Fear setting

July 8, 2017


To do or not to do? We have all encountered this moment where the thing we want to do is also what we fear doing. In this case, it was going up Mt Fuji during the off-season. My desire to proceed was equally matched with the fear of the uncertainty and prospect of danger — and frankly, these are the most difficult decisions to make. Fast forward a few hours and I can assure you that I wish I chose the latter as a major storm crashes into the mountain. Safe to say, I turned out okay.

Recently I came across a Ted talk by @timferriss about fear setting — an activity of defining and tackling our fears opposed to our goals. While I believe setting and chasing a target is critical, I also see the value in tackling the things that often impair our ability to do and experience the things we want most.


In psychology, there is the concept of a negative bias. Scientists have found that our brain reacts more strongly to negative stimuli than positive. As a result, our thoughts and emotions are suddenly plagued with the ‘worse case scenario.’ Throughout evolution, our vigilance and sensitivity to danger kept us alive. But when the fear is not mother nature or a ferocious lion, what is the fear?

Tim’s Fear Setting exercise:


1) What are the worse case scenarios — physically, emotionally, financially? 


2) What can be done to prevent — or decrease likelihood of — those scenarios? 


3) What can be done to repair the damage if it happens? How have others dealt with this scenario when it comes true? 


4) What might be the benefits of attempt or partial success? 


5) What is the cost of not doing it? 


6) Rate the worse case and benefits on a scale of impact and whether they are temporary vs permanent



While I did not use this thought process at Mt Fuji, I would imagine the outcome to be the same. The cost of

inaction was too great.


Comment below to share your stories of defining and tackling fear 👇

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