Fear Setting

Have you ever not done something because you were worried about what might happen if you do? Fear of how your decision will affect your future life which in turn keeps you from doing anything new or different in your life? We are all guilty of it at many points in our lives and we will continue to do it, but where the problems come is when we don’t progress our lives along because we are too afraid of the possible negative outcomes. We are all guilty of leaning on fear at one point in our lives or another. Where the issue lies is when we cannot progress through the fear.

Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur, author, investor and lifestyle guru (all according to his website).  I was first exposed to him watching a TedTalk online. I don’t know what I have typed in for him to pop up, but I am so glad I did.  The TedTalk I watched was of him discussing why we should define our fears and not our goals. The focus of his exercise is for possible business enhancement and personal/business decisions. I feel like it can apply greatly to our individual lives, helping us reduce the stalling anxiety we may experience. Situational examples could include avoiding being around a lot of people, quitting your job, thinking about starting therapy, confronting someone on an issue, or even going on a vacation. The exercise can be used for large and small decisions or struggles we are going through. One of the quotes that Tim Ferriss discusses in his Talk is:

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

There have been many times that I expect things to be just horrible going into and afterwards realizing I put too much time and negative energy into what I imagined it COULD be like versus what was realistic. 

Fear setting is an exercise containing some pretty helpful tools. Tools that can help clear some thinking space when it comes to some of life’s choices. This process I think can be ideal for many situations and we might be able to help ourselves get to the places that we are wanting to be if we address the fears to getting there, versus the goals itself. Anxiety and fear have important places in our lives (if you remember me writing about Inside Out previously, Fear is one of the characters [emotions] in the movie and he is tasked with identifying what things could happen on Riley’s first day of school, first step in fear setting), but they are not meant to keep us from experiencing life. 

The first main steps in fear setting are the following:

What if I……?

Define: What is the worst that could happen if you take action? Get specific and define your worst nightmare and rate them 0-10 for impact.

Prevent: What specific actions can you take to reduce the likelihood of these situations happening. Consider big and small actions. 

Repair: If this situation does happen , what would you need to get back to where you are? ( or to get back on the ‘right track’).

The next two questions are important for growth

  • What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?
  • What are the costs of inaction? (Emotional, Physical, Financial, etc.) 6 months, 1 year, 3 years. 

As Tim Ferriss says :

“Some of your fears may be very well founded, but you shouldn’t conclude that until you put them under a microscope”. 

I don’t want you to think that we should just be crazy fearless and throw everything including safety out the window. But, I do want you to start thinking about how some minor discomfort while we are making changes in our lives is normal and we can reduce some of that discomfort just from doing a little planning. There are negative and positive outcomes to every situation and the goal in planning is we get the right mix of the two in order to be living the life we are envisioning and working towards.

Take a Look at Tim Ferris on TED:

“Training yourself to separate what you can control from what you cannot control, and then doing exercises to focus exclusively on the former. This decreases emotional reactivity. “

  • Tim Ferriss, TEDTALK: Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals

Tim Ferriss has a lot of interesting ways of looking at things to become more productive. Some are discussed in this book: https://amzn.to/3DjJ1AK

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