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Why I loved ‘Fear Setting’ by Tim Ferriss

We all have fears. Some of these are rooted in rational reasons and some of these aren’t but that’s ok. If you’ve ever been afraid of anything, I would really encourage you to watch Tim Ferriss’ ‘Why you should define your fears instead of your goals’ (PS: his story is incredibly moving). Often in today’s society, we are encouraged to think about our goals and ambitions and to always aim higher. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having ridiculously high ambitions for yourself (whatever that looks like for you). However, today more than ever, it’s important for us to also address our fears and the thoughts which hold us back. The beautiful part about Tim Ferriss’ fear setting is that you learn how to prevent the disasters that you can prevent and the rest, you leave alone.

Let’s start, I hope you’re excited. You will need a pen and paper (or a table on Word if you prefer!) and three columns on the page. 

For the first page: 

  1. The first column is ‘define’, the second is ‘prevent’ and the third is ‘repair’. At the top of your page, write down one of your biggest fears or an action you want to take that scares you and in the first column, you can note down all the worst case scenarios which would happen if you took that action. For example, you want to start playing basketball with a team but the thought of this terrifies me. In the first column, you might write down that your fears around this are that you’ll discover that you’re terrible at basketball and won’t blend in with the team. 
  1. In our second column, the prevent column, you write down what you can do to stop these things happening. This might include deciding to take an extra hour of basketball training to work on your skills and challenging yourself to speak to at least one new person each week. 
  1. In the final column, we imagine that the worst-case scenario happens. What can we do to rectify it? You could decide that you will try really hard at basketball for 3 months and if you’re still not enjoying it, then you’ll consider netball. The point of this exercise was to see that sometimes our worst-case scenarios aren’t the end of the road. 

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Our worst misfortunes never happen…most of our miseries lie in anticipation.”

Now we move on to the second page. If you started the basketball training, what would be the benefits of an attempt or partial success? Sometimes we focus too heavily on end goals and not enough on the process. Even if you don’t become a professional basketball player, you might discover a new hobby or make a new friend or realise that basketball isn’t for you, but netball is. The process is full of wins in itself. 

On the third and final page, you write down the cost of inaction. What would happen in 6 months, 1 year or 2 years if you don’t do that thing on your mind. The point of this exercise is to try to think through our fears, it might not sort everything out, but it will help you weigh up whether some actions are worth taking or not.

 ‘There are some things that we simply can’t control and there are some things that we can, the important bit is distinguishing between the two’. 

Written by KB

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