Growth Strategy #51: Fear-setting

Growth Strategy #51: Fear-setting

I first heard about fear-setting when listening to The Tim Ferriss podcast .  He explained that it was a strategy that he had used to help him achieve his goals, using fear to motivate and drive him to take action.  I gave this strategy a try as an exercise with good results.

Good for:  Finding a way to motivate yourself to overcome fears and take action.
Best completed by: You

Tim Ferriss suggests fear-setting is good for helping people overcome their fears and achieve their goals. It involves taking the time to carefully think through and write down the worst-case scenarios associated with a particular fear or goal, and then developing specific strategies for how to mitigate or manage those potential negative outcomes.

The idea is that by facing our fears head-on and creating a plan to address them, we can feel more confident and empowered to take action.  This reminds me of the pain-pleasure principle developed by self-help guru Tony Robbins.

Tony Robbins suggests that people are motivated to either avoid pain or seek pleasure. This principle is at the root of all human behavior, and understanding it can help you to achieve your goals and overcome your fears.

According to Tony Robbins, people seek to avoid pain for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons include:

  1. Self-preservation: Avoiding pain is a natural instinct that is rooted in our desire to protect ourselves and ensure our survival.
  2. Fear of failure: Many people fear that if they pursue their goals and fail, they will experience pain in the form of disappointment, embarrassment, or self-doubt.
  3. Past experiences: If someone has experienced pain in the past as a result of pursuing a particular goal, they may be more likely to avoid pursuing that goal in the future in order to avoid experiencing that pain again.
  4. Lack of confidence: If someone lacks confidence in their abilities, they may be more likely to avoid taking action in order to avoid the potential pain of failure.

Fear-setting can be seen as a way of applying the pain-pleasure principle to your fears and goals. By thinking through the potential negative outcomes associated with your fear and developing strategies to mitigate or manage those risks, you are essentially seeking to avoid the pain that might result from pursuing your fear or goal.

At the same time, by taking action and working towards your goals, you are seeking to achieve the pleasure that comes from succeeding and reaching your desired outcome.

In this way, fear-setting can be seen as a tool for helping you to align your actions with the pain-pleasure principle, and can be a powerful way to overcome your fears and achieve your goals.

The process of fear-setting is as follows:

  1. Define the fear: Start by identifying a specific fear or goal that you want to work on. Be as specific as possible, and try to focus on a single fear or goal at a time.
  2. Determine the worst-case scenario: Next, take some time to think through what could go wrong if you were to pursue your fear or goal. What are the worst-case scenarios? How likely are they to occur? What impact would they have on your life?
  3. Create a plan: Once you have identified the potential negative outcomes associated with your fear or goal, it's time to develop strategies for how to mitigate or manage those risks. This might involve creating backup plans, seeking out additional resources or support, or finding ways to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes.

Tim suggests that by going through this process, you can gain a better understanding of your fear and what it would take to overcome it. This can help you feel more confident and empowered to take action, and can ultimately help you achieve your goals.

Here's an example of using the fear-setting process, to overcome a fear of public speaking:

"I am afraid of public speaking. Every time I have to give a presentation or speak in front of a group, my heart races and I feel like I'm going to faint. I avoid situations where I have to speak in public as much as possible, and when I do have to speak, I struggle to focus and deliver my message effectively."

In this example, the fear being defined is a specific fear of public speaking. This fear is described in detail, including how it makes the person feel and the specific actions they take to avoid it. By clearly defining the fear in this way, it becomes easier to identify the worst-case scenarios and develop strategies for overcoming it.

Here are some examples of how you might determine the worst-case scenario for a fear of public speaking:

Worst-case scenario: I completely freeze up on stage and can't speak at all. This would be embarrassing and could damage my reputation as a professional.

Worst-case scenario: I stumble over my words and lose my train of thought, causing the audience to lose interest. This would make me feel incompetent and could lead to a poor evaluation of my presentation.

Worst-case scenario: I get so nervous that I vomit on stage. This would be extremely embarrassing and could lead to me being ostracized by my peers.

In this example, the worst-case scenarios for the fear of public speaking are all negative outcomes that could result from the person freezing up, stumbling over their words, or getting overly nervous.

By thinking through the potential negative outcomes associated with this fear, it becomes easier to identify strategies for mitigating or managing these risks.

Here's an example of how you might create a plan for overcoming a fear of public speaking:

  1. Seek out additional training or resources: Enrol in a public speaking course or workshop, or read books or articles on the subject to learn more about how to effectively deliver a presentation.
  2. Practice, practice, practice: The more you practice your presentation, the more comfortable you will feel when it comes time to deliver it. Practice in front of a mirror, or ask a friend or family member to listen and provide feedback.
  3. Use relaxation techniques: Try deep breathing or other relaxation techniques to help calm your nerves before you speak.
  4. Visualize success: Close your eyes and imagine yourself giving a successful presentation. This can help boost your confidence and improve your performance.
  5. Create a backup plan: If you do freeze up or stumble over your words, have a backup plan in place to help you get back on track. This might include having key points written down on note cards, or having a trusted colleague in the audience who can help you get back on track if needed.

By developing a plan that includes seeking out additional resources, practicing regularly, using relaxation techniques, visualizing success, and having a backup plan in place, you can feel more confident and prepared to tackle your fear of public speaking.

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