What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? What is your dream? Students are asked these questions throughout their education. However, once you’ve clearly outlined your life purpose, it’s easy to think the hardest part is over. It isn’t. Figuring out what you want is only part of the picture. Figuring out how you want to get there is the other.
Too often, fear is what holds us back from living the life of our dreams. In Tim Ferriss’ electrifying TED talk on defining your fears, he recounts something the famous stoic Seneca once said: “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” This is why Ferriss, hugely successful entrepreneur and writer of bestselling book “The Four Hour Workweek”, created something he calls “Fear-setting.” Fear-setting is a three page exercise he does once a quarter, and is what he attributes all his biggest successes to. Here’s how it works.
On page one, list “What if I…” Here’s where you write down whatever is causing you fear or anxiety. (i.e. starting a business, choosing a non-traditional profession, starting a relationship, etc.) Then next to each fear, you’ll map out three bullet points. First, “Define.” Write out all the worst-case scenarios of what could happen. Second, “Prevent.” Write out all the ways you could prevent those worst case scenarios from happening. Third, “Repair.” Explore if other people have faced the same fears and found a way to conquer them.
On page two, answer this question: “What might be the benefits of attempt/partial success?” This gives you a chance to view whatever you fear under a positive lens.
And on page three, list what Ferriss calls: “The cost of inaction.” Ferriss puts it like this: “If I avoid this action or decision-- or actions or decisions like it-- what might my life look like in, say, six months, twelve months, three years?” Think not only of financial costs, but emotional and physical costs as well. Then brainstorm what these costs might look like at six months, one year, and three years.
Doing this exercise won’t always show you your fears are baseless. Ferriss says, “You’ll find that some of your fears are very well founded… but you shouldn’t conclude that without first putting them under the microscope.”
Ferriss concludes his talk by saying: “I encourage you to ask yourselves where in your lives right now might defining your fears be more important than defining your goals?”
What do you think? Do you think defining your fears is important? What was one instance where you recently did something that scared you and it paid off?
Did you learn something from today’s post? Share it with someone who could benefit from it too!
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