Successfully Conquering the Fear of Failure When Returning to School

This is guest post by the wonderful Lucy Rose. Thank you, Lucy for writing this for me.

The fear of failure plagued 31% of 1,083 adult respondents of one survey by the social network Linkagoal. For adults looking to return to college and get their degree, however, the fear of failure may hinder your motivation and positivity, and may even keep you from attaining your long term goals. Whether your wish is to attend graduate school or simply to finish earning your undergraduate degree, here’s how you can conquer your fears to stay positive throughout your educational endeavours.

Celebrating all milestones

While many may fear failure when it comes to bigger aspects of their educational journey (such as failing to graduate on time), focusing on celebrating the smaller milestones is just as important when maintaining positivity through your studies and will help in conquering your fear along the way. This includes celebrating and acknowledging things like having a successful study session that leads to a good result on an exam, making the dean’s list, or even simply getting through a particularly challenging semester or year. As a result, you can drive your positivity and continue to stay motivated in meeting your ultimate educational goals, while making a major feat seem much more manageable.

Reducing stress from the start

The fear of failure can often prevent us from reaching our goals by having a negative effect on mental health by inducing stress, with common effects of stress on mood including a lack of motivation or focus, irritability, sadness, depression, and anxiety. Throughout your education, you may find that fear of failure prevents you from doing many different things, like enrolling in challenging courses, changing your major, or studying properly due to the immense amount of stress it may bring.

It’s important to keep in mind that fear and the stress it brings can also affect your education before it begins. For instance, the fear of failure may prevent you from applying to graduate school, or from signing up to take any prerequisite testing. Thankfully, you can effectively combat pre-grad school stress by prioritising your mental health. Eating healthy meals and making time for an activity you enjoy that keeps your mind and body healthy (such as getting active via exercise) can ensure you have a positive outlet to reduce stress while staying in the best shape possible.

Identifying goals — and meeting them

When experiencing a fear of failure, identifying your long term goals is ideal to look at for motivation and positivity when things seem nearly impossible. Determining why you want to go back to school is a great place to start — whether you’re driven by a broadening of job opportunities, a higher salary, or simply expanding your expertise. As such, creating a structured plan and focusing on one goal at a time that will help you attain these long term plans is a fantastic way to stay positive and work through your fear. For example, if one of your goals is to pass exams with good marks, then creating a solid study plan will help you meet this goal. And, once a good habit like studying becomes routine, you’ll no longer have to use as much willpower to maintain it, allowing you to focus on another goal and plan — such as taking a particularly challenging course the following semester.

For adults looking to continue their educational endeavours later in life, the fear of failure can very well lead to stress, and can even prevent you from meeting your goals. However, by reducing stress through prioritising your mental health, identifying your goals, and celebrating small victories, you’re sure to maintain your positivity and combat the fear of failure as you study.

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Carl Pullein

Carl Pullein

I help people learn to manage their lives and time better so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of.

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