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Time to Take Action with Tim Ferris' Fear-Setting Exercise

Define your fears instead of your goals to overcome inaction.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. — Seneca the Younger
You already set goals—from your career achievements to your athletic progress, you have milestones to hit, and you relentlessly pursue them. But while goal-setting is widely popular, one of the most important and overlooked exercises is "fear-setting." Tim Ferris developed an exercise that originally appeared in his bestselling book . He later covered it in (below), which has over 6 million views combined:
Fear-setting has produced my biggest business and personal successes, as well as repeatedly helped me to avoid catastrophic mistakes.
For instance, it led Tim to take a 15-month break to travel around the world, which led to the creation of .
In a nutshell, fear-setting is a powerful exercise that allows you to define and face your worst fears, outline your next steps for preventing or conquering fears, and face the consequences of not taking action. You'll likely see that things aren't as bad as they seemed. With fear-setting, you must consider the cost of inaction—the costs of not making those important decisions—and create a plan to tackle those decisions head-on. You'll likely discover that things aren't as bad as they seem.
This Coda fear-setting template includes step-by-step instructions to help you navigate your challenges and fears.
Step 1:
What if I...? Imagine the worst-case scenarios after identifying your big decision.
Step 2:
Strategize ways to prevent the worst-case scenarios from happening.
Step 3:
Are there ways you could repair the damage caused by the worst-case scenarios?
Step 4:
Take a conservative look at the upside of making your decision.
Step 5:
Define the costs of keeping still and not changing.
Step 6:
View a summary of your worst-case scenarios and benefits and quantify the impact.
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Watch a tutorial on how to use this template

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Fear-setting FAQs

What is fear-setting?

Tim Ferriss' fear-setting is an exercise to help bring perspective to goals. In a nutshell, it is making a checklist of your biggest fears and possible outcomes of inaction. You can use fear-setting to visualize worst-case scenarios that could happen if you maintain the status quo.

What are the three steps to fear-setting?

Tim Ferris established three stages of fear-setting:
Defining fears
Predicting the benefits of an attempt to take action
Calculating the costs of not taking an action

When should you do a fear-setting exercise?

Broadly speaking, fear-setting facilitates professional and personal development. The exercise is highly beneficial for anyone who needs help with decision-making and prioritizing goals. It helps you combat your worst fears, work towards learning new skills, and thrive in high-stress environments.
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