Blog #12 – “Fear Setting:” The Powerful Tool From Tim Ferriss’ 2017 TED Talk

April 30, 2017.
A Sunday.

You know when you have that big idea and you’re wondering whether you should pursue it or not? And maybe, just maybe, you’re a little bit afraid to do it? I had the pleasure of attending the first day of this years’ TED Talk in Vancouver, live in a cinema in Gothenburg. And I’m so glad I did, because the tool Tim Ferriss presented is a potential life-changer.

(In a hurry? Scroll to the bullet-points!)

First of all, is fear really a factor?

Yes, for most of us. All the time.

Because we’re wired to look for how things could wrong and not for how things could go right. It’s how we have survived as a species all these years. It’s the safe way, and as long as just a few of us are completely fearless (you know those guys jumping out of airplanes while wrestling burning tigers and they have sunglasses and a camera wtf), progress for the community is secured.

But the way I see it, we’re done with just surviving. And for those who share that feeling progress is necessary – and on the other side of fear.

Thing is that most of the time we’re not really aware of the fear. It’s very sneaky. Unless you’re 10 000 feet in the air, high-fiving a tiger before the plunge, you won’t get a big flashing YOU ARE AFRAID NOW in your minds’ eye. Truth is, most of the time we just get a little tired. A little slow. A little hesitant.

That’s how fear is working you to its boring purpose of not getting you killed.

And this is how you beat it:

Fear Setting

A sort of opposite to goal setting, which works just as well for keeping the momentum going as it does for making those big decisions.

Phase one, the “What if I…?”

• You start by identifying what it is that you want to do, like starting a company or saying “hello” to that one Tinder-match that actually feels special

Define all the bad things you think could happen, like the business failing in the first week or the Tinder-person not responding to your insanely creative “hello”

• Write down the things that you can do to prevent all those bad things from happening, like making sure you have a marketing plan in place, or taking the time to write a thoughtful message to the Tinder-person

• Write down how you could repair the damage if none of the preventive actions worked, like identifying exactly how your business could implode in just one week (and making sure that impressive feat will not happen again), or recognizing that there are other flames in the fire that are perhaps a better match – after all, the perfect match would have responded

Second phase is asking yourself:

“What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?”

This is the why you should do it in the first place. For instance, the benefits of starting a business and not crashing in the first week could potentially change your entire life, and in ways you can’t even imagine. Just like that first hello.

Third phase is asking yourself:

“What is the cost of inaction?”

Emotionally, physically, financially. And to put it in perspective, look at six months from now. One year from now. And three years from now.

Now ask yourself again, “What if I…?”

A bit of trivia, this exact method was used by Tim to decide whether he should take a break from his stressful startup and go to London for a month. He decided to go. And came back, after having travelled the world for a year and a half. What is more, that trip ended up becoming The Four Hour Work Week.

Which changed everything.

Question is, what are you afraid of?

Thank you for reading,

Photo credit: Bret Hartman / TED


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