I am a big fan of the work of Tim Ferriss and recently listened to his excellent TED Talk on ‘Fear Setting’. The following text provides a very simple summary of his Fear Setting process. The purpose of which is to help you to define and evaluate your fears in a more detached way and to properly develop perspective on them. Note that Tim makes the point that the things that we most fear (often linked to very hard choices) are in many cases exactly what we need to do.
Step 1 – What if I…
Start by defining what you fear by completing the following sentence ‘what if I…’. This could be anything and examples might include ‘What if I started a new company’, ‘What if I quit my job’, What if I took on that new high profile role in my company’.
Next, under the heading ‘define’ list all of the worst things that could happen if you take that step. Then under ‘prevent’ list against those items what you could do to prevent their likelihood…even if only a bit. For the third list, under the heading ‘repair’, list what you could do if those items happened or who you could ask for help. This process will help you to understand the fear better and how it might be remedied.
Step 2 – Benefits
The next part of the process is to list the benefits of an attempt or partial success of taking on the fear. Will it help you to build confidence, develop new skills? This will force you to consider the other side of the equation and what you might achieve/how you might grow.
Step 3 – Cost of inaction
The final step is to consider the cost of inaction. What might my life look like if I don’t do this – emotionally, physically, financially etc.). It is helpful to consider this over multiple time periods such as 6 months, 1 year, 3 years. We often don’t consider the cost of remaining in the status quo.
Step 4 – Keep doing it
Tim advises that this exercise should be completed at least once a quarter. He also reflects that any significant advancements that he has made in recent times have been an outcome of this process.
If there is something holding you back from doing what you feel you should do, why not give it a go…