Is Fear of Failure Making You Procrastinate?

Dr. Angela Seabright
Kersten Kruse

| 3 min read

Image of a young woman bored at her desk
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.
  • 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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