5 Steps to Overcome Fear of Failure and Do Your Own Freedom Experiment




Today I did something completely out of character. I did something that I’ve never dared to do before. I did something I’ve been really scared of. I did something I have previously avoided.

I went to an exam I haven’t studied for at all. I’ve set myself up for failure. And it feels good.

I have a history of exam anxiety. I have a history of withdrawing my exam registrations, not showing up on the exam day and even thinking I’ve failed when I actually got an A. It’s been a mess and it has given me a lot of trouble.

So this semester, to gain some credits, I signed up for an exam I didn’t have time to study for. I decided to let go of any expectations. If I fail, at least I have tried. If I don’t try, I don’t have a chance at all.

I re-defined success. I decided that I would be satisfied as long as I went to the exam hall and handed in something.

And so I did. This morning, I went to the exam and I didn’t feel afraid at all. And when the elevator stopped between two floors on my way up to the 6th floor exam hall – I laughed. Any other exam and I would have had a panic attack and cried. Luckily, the elevator started again immediately. But it didn’t really matter. This time, I knew that I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. And I knew that by showing up, I had already succeded.

I only sat there for half the given time and I handed in 17 pages of absolute bullshit. I just wrote whatever came to mind that was vaguely appropriate for the subject.  I did my best there and then. By now I have absolutely no idea if I passed, but I don’t really care. I have already succeded in conquering one of my greatest fears of not being good enough. I re-defined good enough. And it feels absolutely liberating.

It was a small Freedom Experiment.

I have used the same appoach to attract sponsors to my blog, clients for my business and submitting my photography portfolio to universities. It’s a tried and tested approach to get exciting things done and have lots of fun. Try it yourself by following the steps below. Enjoy!

5 Steps to Overcome Fear of Failure and Do Your Own Freedom Experiment

1. Identify something you want to do, but are afraid of doing

This could be anything from writing a small e-book, selling your first home-made product online, starting your first website or blog, submitting an article for a magazine, appologizing to someone or inviting someone out for a date – to bungee jumping, quitting your job or applying for a scholarship or university course. Be creative and decide on something you’re excited about, but a littel scared to do.

2. Evaluate the consequences and alternative actions

Realize that if you don’t try, you’ll never gain. This one is crucial – if you don’t go for it, the result would most likely be the same as the result you’re afraid of (which is often rejection or regret). Truth is, you have a lot less to loose if you never try.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

3. Re-define success

Define success as accomplishing what you set up to do and doing your best. Write that book, submit that article, put that creative baby out in the world. Just ask that editor, cute boy or potential customer. Do your part of the job and let the rest go. If you define success this way, and do your best, there is no way you could fail.

4. Do it for fun

Focus on why you want to do what you’re afraid of. Because it’s fun, right? (If not, make sure you really want to do what you think want to do.) Imagine that you could not fail. Would you enjoy doing what you’re doing more? It really helps any Freedom Experiment to do it for the heck of it. For the fun of it. To have a good laugh, to make a mess of yourself or for testing out something. Treat any project this way, and I’ll guarantee you that you’ll enjoy it more and I bet you’ll even succeed more frequently!

5. Re-evaluate possible consequences and make it a short-term commitment

There is almost no decisions in life that can’t be undone. I promise you won’t be stuck with a bad decision forever. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have to call your boss and ask to get that job back, appologize to someone or take that website back down. It might hurt, but it’s not the end of the world. Take a look at what you’re afraid of and see if your decision can poosibly be reversed. If not, and you still absolutely don’t dare – see if you can make your experiment smaller – like taking a two month temporary leave from work, move somewhere for a shorter period, make an agreement with someone for a small time period etc. Be creative and remember:


Have you made your own Freedom Experiment yet? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlotte May 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Thankyou so much for this. It is what I needed to read at the right time, considering I have two exams in the next few weeks and am unprepared for both. I’m going to try and go into them both with the same free spirited mindset that you did today. Takk :)


Rebecca May 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I love this. I officially make ‘redefining success’ my new goal for this year! Wanting to quit my respectable job has caused me to question myself BIG TIME. I constantly worry that I’ll be letting people down. But just because I’m leaving something that other people think is the definition of success, doesn’t mean I won’t be successful in very different (and equally wonderful) ways.

Also, that Mark Twain quote is one of my favourites :)


Jessica May 12, 2012 at 4:59 am

So proud of you, Marthe! This is so inspiring. :)


Kat Chetram May 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

Thank you so much for this!



mari kolbeinson May 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Takk nok ein gang marthe!

..Og(!) eg e stolt øve deg


lily o. June 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

This is very inspiring! It’s so great I read this in a monday morning! Now I have the whole week to put it on practice!!!
I liked it so much that i want to share this words with everyone I know!
So, if you don’t mind, can I translate to portuguese, and share it in my blog? Of course I will give you all the credit.
As soon as I post there I put the link here for you to see.
Thanks for the inspiring words <3


Sarah July 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

Thank you thank you thank you!
For this article and everything else you write about on this site.
I love what you’re saying here and will try to apply it in my life.
Thanks again…you’re making a difference :)


Nicole July 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I always see myself as a failure. I had been through everything you had described before an examination started, I would panic and cry. Recently as I started college, my new friends were unable to get used to me rambling and worrying all the time so I was always seen as the low self esteem person who worry just about everything in a her life. After reading your article, i have re-defined my term of success, I started enjoying the process of achieving my re-defined success and the worries eventually stops. You have no idea how many hearts and souls you’ve touched as i was always reminded of this phrase “it takes one person to start making a difference”. Thank you.


Chrissie May 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Thank you. I use this and some other posts on my fear of going to the gym. Even calling them to make an apoointment for a first get in touch meeting scares me so much. All these beautiful, healthy staff-people. lord help!!! I’m trying this … I have been trying this for at least… like, 5 years?! So I printed some stuff and am now making an plan of action poster with quotes, steps and so on from your articles. You really help me. <3


Reghuprasad R July 28, 2015 at 10:55 am

Awesome one….i never read before such an inspirational article like this …
Thank uu..for the real one which I seak for long time…:)


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