Today we will be doing another technique that I have borrowed. This time, the technique is called fear-setting, and comes from Tim Ferris’s book The 4-Hour Workweek, which I highly recommend.
I timed this exercise to come right after yesterday’s starting from zero technique for a good reason.
The starting from zero technique is extreme, and a lot of people are probably afraid to take the mental leap necessary to do the exercise properly.
By the end of today, that type of thing shouldn’t be a problem anymore!
After all, risks are only scary before you take them.
“Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.” This quote from the book is a profound one.
From observing those around me, I can see the truth in that statement. It seems so absurd that this would be the case, and yet, so many people seem to follow predetermined paths that were set for them that they don’t even seem to enjoy at all!
The essence of fear-setting is to transform that unknown into a worst case scenario.
If there are things that you have always wanted to do but were too afraid to start doing it, figure out what the worst possible situation would be if you decide to do it.
Usually it won’t be nearly as scary as the unknown potential results of your actions.
In order to conquer fear of the unknown, we must turn it into something known.
Think about all the things you decided you wanted in your dream life yesterday.
We’re now going to try and define what might be stopping you from taking the plunge and just doing it.
For the following questions, write down as much as you can, and don’t think about your answers too much. Just go with your first thoughts and put everything down.
1. What is the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you were thinking of doing?
If you started doing the actions necessary for accomplishing your dream life, what is the most awful failure that could possibly happen? Would there be any permanent impact?
Put as much horrible, horrible detail in as you can. How likely is this worst case scenario to happen?
2. What steps could you take to repair the damage?
Even if they are only temporary solutions, how would you manage to get your situation back under control?
Although you may need to be creative, it’s very likely that there are somewhat easy or simple ways to repair any damage.
3. What are the outcomes of more probable scenarios?
How likely is that that you could produce at least a moderately good outcome?
What are the temporary and permanent benefits you might gain, both internal (such as confidence) and external, from these more likely scenarios?
4. What is it costing you to postpone action?
Oh, what an important question to ask yourself!
We rarely consider the financial, physical, and emotional costs of NOT doing things.
But this is just as important as measuring the cost of action!
If you don’t do these things you want to do, where will you be in one, five, or ten years? What will your life be like?
As Ferris says, “If you telegraph out ten years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome, inaction is the greatest risk of all.”
Once you’ve gone through this exercise, you will have a much better feel for what it is that has been holding you back. You should also see that what you have been afraid of was hardly warranted at all!
Move on to Day 22: Conquer Your Fears.