The fear of failure to start

We hear a lot about the fear of failure – of staking our status quo for something bolder and closer to our heart. But we do not speak enough about its opposite – the fear of failure to start.

The status-quo is alluring not just to our own selves, but also to people who are closest to us and who wish us well. Seeing other people in an image different from what we are used to is a source of cognitive strain, which most of us go quite a long way to avoid. Psychologists call this the status-quo bias.

Conventional wisdom holds us back from taking leaps of faith, even when the risk is only illusory rather than real. Failure itself is often perceived as a risk before we embark on a venture. In prospect, we humans are risk averse. However, what people end up regretting the most several years into the future are the changes they did not take – not the ones they did take. Our minds are masterful at rationalizing our choices after we make them. It isn’t as as good at rationalizing our “non-choices”.

The conventional recipe to avoid failure is to hush the little voice in our head, put our heads down and continue doing what we do everyday. The irony is that the surest way to fail at something is to fail to start.

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