Many times we exaggerate our fears; we become so afraid that instead of looking at them in the eye, we run away from them. So, how do we overcome this pattern and equip ourselves to work through them?
One method is to take a pen and paper and write down all the things you fear. Don’t hold yourself back, take as much as time as you need and write everything down. Let them out of your system and onto the paper. Be strong as you go through this process. Some of the fears may be irrational and of the unknown, write them in as much detail as you can. We don’t need to figure out or brainstorm how to tackle these fears. Our job is to simply acknowledge what we fear with absolute honesty. As we do that, the mental fog will start dissolving and things will start getting clearer for us.
Something magical happens when we start acknowledging our fears. We start realizing the absurdity and the baselessness of some of them. Acknowledging our fears set us free. It helps us reclaim our power. It propels us to move forward and overcome barriers to reach new destinations.
Another technique that you may employ is the fear-setting session introduced by Tim Ferriss in his TED Talk, “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals”. Inspired by the tenets of Stoicism, fear-setting is an exercise that helps you go through your fears and evaluate the possible outcomes of action or inaction.
You can think of fear-setting as the exact opposite of goal setting. Instead of making a checklist of what you want to do and how to make things happen, you make a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you are afraid will happen. The former is offense, and the latter is defense more or less.
In a nutshell, fear-setting involves a three page checklist that allows us to face and crystallize our fears and define specific steps that we can take to both prevent them and overcome them in case they end up manifesting in our life. In addition, it empowers us to realize that things are probably not as bad as they appear to be. Chances are that you’ve been putting off one or more important life-changing decisions out of obscure and undefined fears. This exercise gives you the space and time to get focused and create a plan to tackle them head on. It also reorients you to consider the costs of inaction — what future costs are you overlooking by not making those crucial decisions?
Tim Ferriss shared that fear-setting is the most powerful and valuable exercise he does and he engages in it mostly once a month, at least once a quarter. As he puts it, “Fear-setting has produced my biggest business and personal successes, as well as repeatedly helped me to avoid catastrophic mistakes.”