Fear Setting

by Kaizen on August 17, 2017

One of the primary components of unfettering is setting goals / priorities. What do you want for yourself? What matters most?

Tim Ferriss has an interesting twist on this concept, which is an exercise called Fear Setting. Tim credits this exercise for everything he has achieved in his life as well as all the disasters averted. It is rooted in a quote from Seneca …

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

Tim says, “Typically, people don’t overcome their fears because the fears are nebulous and undefined.” The Fear Setting exercise forces you to do just that — to make your fears explicit and clear.

You begin the exercise by putting on top of a piece of paper the action that you fear taking—it could be starting a new business, asking for a raise, ending a relationship, transitioning to a new career, adopting a child, taking an extended sabbatical, etc. Next, you need three columns: Define — Prevent — Repair.

  • In the Define column, outline on each line a potential worst case scenario. You can easily have 20 or more here. Be specific.
  • In the Prevent column, write exactly for each bullet point what you could do to prevent the worst case scenario from happening.
  • In the Repair column, note how you can get back on your feet if the worst case scenario comes to pass. Who would you need to talk to? And be aware that often someone less smart and less driven figured and solved this out … so why not you?!

What is important, Tim says, is to realize that a lot of times we are fearing a temporary setback that would have a negative impact, on a scale of 0-10, of maybe negative 1 to 3 … but the upside of taking action would be a potential positive life-changing 8 to 10. The math then dictates … set the fear, feel the fear, and proceed anyway.

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