Is Fear of Failure Making You Procrastinate?

Are you a chronic procrastinator?

While everyone puts things off from time to time, if you find yourself constantly pushing up against deadlines, you might be using a procrastination habit to cope with a fear of failure or low self-esteem.

Research correlates higher levels of fear of failure with higher rates of procrastination. In other words, if you’re worried you won’t do well on a task or assignment, you’re more likely to put it off. Somewhat related, low self-esteem has also been shown to be a predictor for procrastination behaviors.

You can reduce feelings of anxiety related to fear of failure and low self-esteem, by making small changes to your lifestyle. Ridding yourself of negative thoughts and feelings can help stop the patterns of procrastination you may have developed. Here are a few great ways to get started.

  • Exercise: Exercising can release feel-good hormones that relieve stress and boost your mood. Many people enjoy taking a run or bike ride to clear their mind of negative thoughts.
  • Improve your posture: Improving your posture can be a subtle way to enhance your self-confidence, giving you more belief in your thoughts and abilities.
  • Meditate: Relaxation methods such as meditation are a great way to relieve stress and learn to be in the moment. This is especially helpful for people with anxiety who may fear impending failure. By controlling your breathing and clearing your mind, you can focus on the tasks in front of you rather than concerns for the future.
  • Perform mental exercises: Arguing with yourself when thinking negatively can be a useful tactic when battling low self-esteem. If you think that you are going to fail an upcoming test, take a minute to challenge that thought. “But you have been in class every day and studied last night,” is an example of a positive thought to counteract the fear. This exercise can teach you not only to be a critical thinker but to believe in yourself.
  • Sleep: Getting adequate rest is essential when performing any task, let alone tackling an entire work week. A lack of sleep can cause irritability, sluggish behavior and concentration issues. In order to produce your best work, try to go to bed at a decent time – ideally 8 hours before you wake up.
  • Reduce your use of stimulants: Caffeine and tobacco use can create higher anxiety for those who already suffer. Cutting down on your intake of stimulants is important to keep your body and mind in peak condition.

Do you experience procrastination? Tell us about a time you’ve delayed an event or project in the comments below.

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Photo credit: XiXinXing

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  1. My constant procrastination has me not knowing who I am and what I am doing at the age of 55. Procrastination keeps me from being my best self. I have lost confidence in myself over the years for fear of being a failure. I am so unhappy with myself that I just stop trying making me even more unhappy.

    1. Hi EH, If you’re a BCBSM member, you always have the option to call the number on the back of your ID card to speak with a mental health professional. We also have a blog you can read on how to help your mental health, if it’s of interest: We hope this is helpful. -Taylar

  2. HOW! Do I make myself start? I plan, lay it out, think about how great it can be, THEN I WON’T START! I’ll make an attempt to start but I get sidetracked by a related thought and start doing that, or family members need my help. I have sewing projects I started in the 90’s. Major change, after 45 years I became a widow. This is the HARDEST thing I have ever been through in my life. I’ve been purging and planning a sewing class at my Church. I need a guide sheet to get me through this. Always HATED MATH! Discalulia. I always put off studying even though I new what would happen. But sometimes when it was about something that fascinates me there is no procrastination. WEIRD!

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