(This is part of our larger fear series. Find out more about what is fear, what fears we have, and other ways to overcome our fears here)
"Most of us end up choosing unhappiness over uncertainty" - Tim Ferriss
We have all had goals we set which we did not achieve. What stops us?
Often, it isn't that the goal itself that is unachievable. What stops us, perhaps before we even take action, is our own fears and anxieties. Neurobiologically, our brains have evolved to be attuned to threats to our survival (there is a short cut between the area of your brain that processes inputs and the amygdala - responsible for fear and anxiety; the amygdala is hence able to make very quick judgments, but these are sometimes incorrect - find out more in the "Our brain does what??" page.
Making any changes to our lives creates uncertainty, which our brains perceive as a possible threat to survival - we don't know what would happen and we could fail. In this way, fear isn't by itself a bad thing - it serves to warn us of potential danger. The problem is - the potential for danger doesn't mean it will necessarily happen, or that it is as bad as we think. This is where for matters that important to us, we have to take the time to examine our fears and make sense of them. Without doing so, our brains will simply take these fears to be true, and start coming up with reasons why we should avoid these changes or instil enough doubt to prevent us from taking action.
Fear-Setting is the means to help us balance between our natural reaction of fear and critically examining if thee are valid. Failure is always a possibility - but fear-setting challenges us to answer more useful questions:
What is the worst that could happen, and is it really that bad if the worst happens?
What are some potential points of failure and what can you do to prevent them?
If failure happens, are there things you can do to mitigate the impact?
While taking action has its cost, what is the opportunity cost of not taking action
Tim Ferriss is a best-selling author (in particular, I recommend the 4-Hour Work Week and Tribe of Mentors), host of the popular podcast "The Tim Ferriss" show, an entrepreneur, and an investor and advisor to companies like Uber, Evernote, and Facebook.
You can read Tim's full blog on fear-setting here
You can also go through Tim's fear-setting worksheet below:
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
— Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister