LIFETOOLS

TED: Define Your Fears, Not Your Goals

  |   13:21

The hard choices — what we most fear doing, asking, saying — are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action? Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls “fear-setting.” Learn more about how this practice can help you thrive in high-stress environments and separate what you can control from what you cannot.

In simple terms, this is visualizing the worst-case scenarios, in detail, that you fear and that have preventing you from taking action, so that you can take action to overcome that paralysis.

Ferris says “I found a quote that made a big difference in my life, which was, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality,” by Seneca the Younger, who was a famous Stoic writer. That took me to his letters, which took me to the exercise, “premeditatio malorum,” which means the pre-meditation of evils. In simple terms, this is visualizing the worst-case scenarios, in detail, that you fear and that have preventing you from taking action, so that you can take action to overcome that paralysis. My problem was monkey mind — super loud, very incessant. Just thinking my way through problems doesn’t work. I needed to capture my thoughts on paper. So I created a written exercise that I called “fear-setting,” like goal-setting, for myself.”

He describes in detail how to use this fear-setting process and explains “I can trace all of my biggest wins and all of my biggest disasters averted back to doing fear-setting at least once a quarter. It’s not a panacea. You’ll find that some of your fears are very well-founded. But you shouldn’t conclude that without first putting them under a microscope. And it doesn’t make all the hard times, the hard choices, easy, but it can make a lot of them easier.”

Tim Ferriss is an early-stage tech investor, best-selling author and podcaster.

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