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Why You Should Never Say No to Yourself and Tips to Help You Overcome Fear of Failure and Rejection

A few weeks ago I got the very joyous news that the practicum requirement for my MPH program was being waived! In case your wondering, a practicum is a work component to a graduate degree program where you put classroom theory to practice and hone your skills. I was elated when the Dean at my school deemed that I’ve done enough work in the area of public health to not need to do this component of the program.


I almost didn’t apply for this waiver because I’ve mostly spent the past eleven years in international development focusing on agribusiness and food production. I thought my public health background had been so long ago that it would probably not be worth the hassle to track down my old supervisors and to try to document my previous work. However, it was challenging to find a practicum that fit into my work schedule and interest so I ultimately decided to try and submit the waiver.

I went ahead and documented the work that I did at The Mercedes Parra Foundation and The National Minority AIDS Council. I called up my old supervisor at NMAC and my partner at MPF to let them know the university would be reaching out to them and to see if they would mind filling out the paperwork. Thankfully, they said they’d be happy to help. Lo and behold my waiver was successful!

Keynote Speaker, “Promoting Gender Mainstreaming in HIV/AIDS Policy Reform”, 2005 African American and Hispanic Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS, Louisville, KY (September 23, 2005)
Photo courtesy of Courier Journal:
Keynote Speaker, “Promoting Gender Mainstreaming in HIV/AIDS Policy Reform”, 2005 African American and Hispanic Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS, Louisville, KY (September 23, 2005)

“You can’t move mountains by whispering at them.”


My father always told me when I was growing up to never turn down myself. Always apply. This advice has served me well in life and this is another example. I could have spent months completing my practicum had I not gotten this waiver.

Remember that lesson, NEVER SAY NO TO YOURSELF! Never assume something won’t work. Always try. If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost anything. However, if you’re successful you just might make your life a lot easier.

Tips to help you take the plunge:

Our dreams help us lay the foundation for where we want to go. However, if you never take the time to create a plan of action around your dreams, you aren’t setting goals, and goals are what you need if you want to turn your dreams into reality.

Be clear about what you want

The number one thing is to be certain of what it you really want in this world. When you are clear about that, it’s easy to develop a laser sharp vision of how to bring your dream to reality.

Face your fear

Often times we say no to ourselves out of fear of rejection or fear of failure. This is the number one thing we have to overcome before we can put ourselves out there when the chances of getting a yes to what we want seem slim.

There are a number of things you can do to over come this and “get your head in the game.”

Create a goal-focused task list.

Write it down!

After determining that your goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) you have to ask yourself, “How am I going to make it happen?”

Being methodical about getting from Point A to Point B isn’t a bad thing when you’re trying to push yourself, especially past a fear of rejection or failure. Nothing fuels anxiety like feeling as if you’re not ready to take on the challenges ahead of you.

If you’re certain that in order to accomplish your goal, you have to check the box, it makes it a lot harder to accept seeing that box unchecked on your task list.

Evaluate Your Resources

Along with this process, you will have to evaluate all the resources necessary to complete your goal journey. Do you have what you need to increase your chances of getting a yes to what you’re seeking?

  • People who could put in a good word for you
  • An online portfolio showcasing your work, like a personal website or LinkedIn profile
  • A great outfit to wow them at the meeting or interview
  • Enough money set aside to make moves
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Conduct a SWOT Analysis for your personal goals

I always suggest doing a SWOT Analysis for your personal goals just as you would in business.

Before you attempt to take on any goal, you must ask yourself do you have what you need to be successful in achieving that goal. A SWOT Analysis is a tool that helps you do just that.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT Analysis a valuable tool that will give you a thorough lay of the land in which you operate. It will give you the knowledge you need to make sure you can properly lay out your goal game plan.

Celebrate your win!

Once you’ve done all you need to set yourself up for success apply! Sit back, relax, let it go. If you did everything you could in the proper way, you’re practically guaranteed to get that yes. (And when you do remember how you almost missed out on and it.) Have a good laugh, cry, hug someone, go out, whatever you need. Just enjoy the high. You deserve it!

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