Why Fear Is The Root Of Procrastination And How To Overcome It

When I started my first online business I struggled with procrastination.

I would start the day out great, fizzle by lunch time, head to the coffee shop in the afternoon for a change of scenery and a pick me up, and hit the bed early with nothing much knocked off my todo list. I ended each day feeling less and less capable of growing a successful business.

To procrastinate is to delay, to hold back and to put off. I was putting off my successful future for the negative thoughts and beliefs of today. 

After much reflection, I realized fear was at the root of my procrastination. Fear usually hides in the dark, hidden away in our subconscious mind where we can't easily identify it.

I was so afraid of failing (and even succeeding) that I couldn't take action. Secretly, I knew if I didn't start I wouldn't have to face potential failure. But when I was honest with myself I realized that if I didn't try I wouldn't have the opportunity to succeed either. 

I had to switch the tapes that were playing in my head. 

I had to go from "What if it doesn't work?" to "What if it does?!"

The process of "I'll never learn all of this." changed to "You are doing great!"

If you are spending your time binging on Netflix and scrolling through your Instagram feed instead of completing income producing activities for your business, you might be suffering from one of the following ailments:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • or a combination of the two


How do you know that you are suffering from the fear of failure? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you worry about what other people will think about you?
  • Do you worry about having the skills to make your dreams come true?
  • Do you worry that people will lose interest in you? In what you are doing?
  • Do you worry that you aren't smart or capable enough to figure out the necessary things?
  • Do you worry that you will disappoint the people that you care about?
  • Do you tend to tell people before you even really get started that you don't expect to succeed?
  • Do you often get distracted by tasks that once they are completed you realize they weren't as necessary as you thought they were?


On the flip side, you may be dealing with a fear of success. We never hear entrepreneurs say "I am afraid of succeeding." It sounds off, counter-intuitive even. But as an entrepreneur that has coached hundreds of small business owners, I see it all the time. 

How can you identify if you are suffering from a fear of success? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you struggle to complete your tasks (either at home or at work)?
  • Do you talk about what you are going to do more than you actually do it?
  • Do you work on several projects at once, never really focusing deeply on one?
  • Does your vision board look exactly like it did five years ago?
  • Do you second guess yourself often?
  • Are you easily distracted?
  • Do you often feel like your work isn't quite good enough?
  • And the big giveaway...when you are on the verge of success, is that when everything seems to go wrong?

Do you feel this way about certain parts of your business?

  • Do you worry that you won't be able to maintain success?
  • Do you feel like you are bad at managing money so if money starts coming into your business you won't know what to do?
  • Or maybe you feel like, as a busy mom and wife, that if you find success you won't be able to manage the added demand on your time?


Your fear of failure and fear of success or even a combination of the two is most likely embedded deep into your subconscious. You probably don't even realize that your procrastination is a result of these fears. 

No amount of goal setting, planning, prioritizing or todo lists will help you get past the issue of putting off your work. Only when you dig deeper can you find where your lack of action is originating from. It's most likely hidden inside your subconscious mind, guiding your behaviors without you even realizing it. 

Grab yourself a journal and commit to letting your mind go and lead you as your answer these questions. 

  1. What would I do if I could not fail?
  2. What is the worst that could happen if I do fail?
  3. What from my life is making these things seem unbearable? What story am I telling myself?

Related Article: 5 Reasons Entrepreneurs and Business Startups Should Journal


The primary problem with overcoming your fear of failure or success is that the fear most likely lives in your subconscious. Many times you are putting off completing the hard tasks (the most important tasks) in your business by doing less difficult and meaningful tasks, such as checking email or scrolling through Facebook. Your subconscious mind is telling you that these things are important even when they aren't. 

Here are two important ways that you can bring the fear out of hiding so you can control it in a productive manner:

1. Own the fear. Fear is a part of being a business owner. Any time we are chasing our dreams and striving to live our life on purpose we will experience some levels of fear and self doubt. Trying to avoid it completely is counter productive. It simply isn't possible. 

Make it a point to find people that are in similar situations as you that you can talk through your fear with. Talking and even journaling about your feelings will bring them out of hiding, out into the open where the trueness of light can reflect the truth on them. When we hide our fears away, they start to grow and feel bigger than they really are. A support system, or your tribe, is an important part of overcoming your fears.

2. Focus on what you can control. Most of what we fear happening is out of our control. In order to take the focus off of the fear you are facing, focus on the things you can control. What tasks and steps can you take control of right now that will keep you moving forward towards your goal?

We can't see what's up ahead beyond the curve of the road. We fear what we can't see, expecting the worst. That's the stuff we can't control. But we can control the next action we take. Focus on what you can control and let the future take care of itself. 

Whether you suffer from a fear of failure or a fear of success or even maybe a little bit of both, you can decide to not let fear hold you back from reaching your dreams. 

Do you struggle with procrastination? Leave me a comment and let me know how you plan to tackle the fear that is at the root of what is holding you back.

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