Fear Setting vs. Goal Setting – What’s Holding You Back?

 In Goals, Negative emotions

I stumbled upon this TED talk by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week. Instead of just defining our goals, he suggests we should define our fears. What’s getting in the way of achieving your goals, your dreams, your happiness, and your ultimate success?

It could be asking for a promotion, starting a company, or asking someone on a date. It could be deciding to go back to school, to end a relationship, or to change course in your career. It could be setting boundaries and saying no. It could be taking time for yourself.

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine any way.’ Either way, nothing happens.”
— Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia

Whether you’re a pessimist who assumes things will go wrong or an optimist who thinks that things will eventually get better, inaction does not move you towards a better life.

Tim has a process he uses to help him with his fear-setting process.

The idea is to fully acknowledge the worst possible outcome of your potential action. To dig into the details on paper so you know them inside and out. What would that look like? How bad would it be? Would you survive? Could you recover?

Then the focus shifts to the potential upside of taking action, even if you don’t fully achieve your desired outcome.

Here are the questions in Tim’s fear-setting practice:

  1. What are the worst possible things that could happen if I take this action? Let all ideas flow, no matter how unlikely or silly.
  2. What could I do to prevent or decrease the chances of these things happening?
  3. If the worst-case scenarios happen, what could I do to repair the damage, even a little bit? Who could I ask for help?
  4. What might be the benefits of an attempt or even a partial success? Consider things learned, skills improved, confidence gained, etc.
  5. If I avoid this action, what would my life look like in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years? Include emotional, financial, & physical details.

I would love to hear how this works for you!

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