Define Your Fears!


“We often suffer more in imagination than we do in reality.”

– Seneca

As women, we tend to play out the worst case scenarios in our mind and let them guide our decisions (whether actively or unconsciously) without really thinking them through, often to our detriment.

The process Tim Ferriss outlines in his TED talk on “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals” can help us think about our fears more logically and reflect on the impact of our inaction because of those fears. The tool is something you can apply to all areas of your life and is worth revisiting on a quarterly basis (or as often as you need).

You will need to set aside a little time to work through but I can almost guarantee that the time you spend using this tool will well outweigh the the wasted hours you will spend ‘spinning’, thinking about your worst case scenarios. The outcomes might just amaze you.

“Premeditation of Evils” tool

(The title is a little daunting but don’t let it scare you off. It came from early Roman times and made perfect sense then!)

Step 1:

  1. What if I – List out item(s) you hesitate to do. These are usually the tasks you repeatedly put off and often make you feel sick every time you think about them.
  2. Define – List out the worst possible things that might happen if you act on your ‘What if I’ item(s). Try to list 10-20 possible outcomes here.
  3. Prevent – For each of the ‘Define’ items, write down what you could do to prevent or decrease the likelihood of these things happening.
  4. Repair – If the worst case you listed in ‘Define’ did happen, what could you do to repair the damage? Who could you turn to for help?

What if I:

Define                                   Prevent                                  Repair

Step 2:

Spend 10-15 minutes and write down the benefit of taking the “What if I” action if it was a success (or a partial success).

Step 3:

If you don’t take the ‘What If I’ step, write down the cost of inaction in the next:

  • 6 months
  • 1 year
  • 3 years

“Easy choices, hard life.
Hard choices, easy life.”

Jerzy Gregorak

(Concept leveraged from Tim Ferriss’ TED talk on defining your fears instead of your goals. If you haven’t found Tim Ferriss’ podcast/books/shows yet, I would recommend you check him out. Personally, he has been a great inspiration.)

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