Fear-Setting by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss' Fear-Setting exercise from his popular TED talk about conquering your fears. If you are making a big decision, this exercise will help you mitigate the downside and capture the upside.

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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 that of “fear-setting.” It is an exercise that has been developed by author and investor Tim Ferriss, and it originally appeared in his bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek. He later covered it in his 2017 TED talk, which has over 6 million views combined.

As Tim puts it, “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 The 4-Hour Workweek.

In a nutshell, fear-setting is an exercise that allows you to face and name your fears, define specific next steps to preventing and overcoming them, and it forces you to realize that things are probably not as bad as they seem. Perhaps you’ve been putting off one or more important life-changing decisions out of nebulous and undefined fears. This exercise forces you to be rigorous and specific and create a plan to tackle them head on. It also forces you to consider the costs of inaction—what costs are you overlooking by not making those important decisions?


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Al Chen

I build solutions for the Coda community. Former Excel spreadsheet addict.

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