Fear Setting

I was inspired to do this ‘fear setting’ exercise by Tim Ferris. His recent TED talk that inspired me is further explained in this blog post of his.

Here are his six questions and my six answer regarding what action I want to take and what fear is holding me back.


“1. Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What doubt, fears, and “what-ifs” pop up as you consider the big changes you can—or need—to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1–10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?”

I am considering getting loud and fully behind my message. Being certain and behaving like I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Really inviting people to join me in my efforts, now!

The worst would be that the only thing that comes back is negativity. Nobody passes my content on, and everyone who sees it is pissed, bored, offended, or confused. Nobody wants to work with me, and my attempts just come off as spammy junk. The only ones who care are the ones that are offended. The fascists from the left and right all come down on me. Basically everyone I communicate with likes me less, and my attempt is detrimental to both my own reputation and to the messages I tried to represent. I could get emotional and get made fun of.

This wouldn’t be the end of my life, it would just require the start of a new one. Except if big brother comes out swinging suddenly, I might be the first on his list. Well maybe like the 10th. I’d still be part of a really big group, and not the first of many’s concerns. What it could otherwise mean is a loss of reputation. I’d learn a lot from trying though. I’d probably learn to give even fewer unnecessary fucks, and I’d learn a lot about what doesn’t work, presumably some about what does. I am blessed to have people who will love me no matter what, and I can always try again in a new community.

It is likely that I get some negative response, but very unlikely that I don’t get a lot of positive responses. I know this because I’ve already seen results of my actions in smaller amounts, and there is often an incredible promise. I’ve already seen the results of my actions when I was far deeper consumed by fear, and it can only get better from there.


“2. What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily? Chances are, it’s easier than you imagine. How could you get things back under control?”

The way I’d get things under control is by quitting what isn’t working. I’d always be able to make a basic living, and I’d be able to fall back on some passionless but quite safe way to spend my time. I can always examine what I’ve done, and try it again. People will forget readily I think, as long as I’m not trying to harm them personally, which is never an issue. I think the worst of what I’d do is make people uncomfortable, and any of those relationships could probably be readily restored if necessary by some personal attention and service. I could use the opportunity to be even more vulnerable, honest, and trustworthy by saying, so here’s what’s been happening and why I’ve been the way I’ve been.

If I simply get no attention, then nothing really happens. My ego gets hurt again. I just get to try in different ways.

By trying harder, I’d make it easier for myself to keep trying harder. I’d have a tremendous amount of new freedom to try things, no longer having to protect any reputation.


“3. What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent, of more probable scenarios? Now that you’ve defined the nightmare, what are the more probable or definite positive outcomes, whether internal (confidence, self-esteem, etc.) or external? What would the impact of these more likely outcomes be on a scale of 1–10? How likely is it that you could produce at least a moderately good outcome? Have less intelligent people done this before and pulled it off?”

More probable scenarios include me getting a lot of really positive responses, and coming into my own as a thought leader. If I’m hungry for something, others probably are too. My own confidence would grow, and support would be found. This would be absolutely tremendous for me- a 10. It is extremely likely that I can pull this off to at least some extent.

Many much less intelligent people have pulled it off. The certainty is free, seemingly independent of intelligence or merit. This consideration greatly increases my felt likelihood of success.


“4. If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to get things under financial control? Imagine this scenario and run through questions 1–3 above. If you quit your job to test other options, how could you later get back on the same career track if you absolutely had to?”

If I was fired from my job today… well I wouldn’t, because I don’t have one. I’m already sort of at financial rock bottom- the worst would be having to go deeper in debt and wait longer to pay it off. I’m already trying things in an unconventional way, it’s all downhill from here really. There are tremendous opportunities for financial stability that are and will continue to be available.


“5. What are you putting off out of fear? Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, that conversation, whatever the action might be—it is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it. I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear. I got into this habit by attempting to contact celebrities and famous business people for advice.”

What I am putting off out of fear is acting like an authority in my actual areas of understanding, and even more so trying my hardest to build a team.

Alright. I will reach out today for a business partner. I can take this action every mother fucking day.


“6. What is it costing you—financially, emotionally, and physically—to postpone action? Don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action. It is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction. If you don’t pursue those things that excite you, where will you be in one year, five years, and ten years? How will you feel having allowed circumstance to impose itself upon you and having allowed ten more years of your finite life to pass doing what you know will not fulfill you? If you telescope out 10 years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,” inaction is the greatest risk of all.”

Inaction is costly. It keeps me performing far under my potential. It keeps me in a place where I’m not explicitly needed, and I have the space to do less important shit, bad habits. This could be drawn out for a long time. I will see sadness and suffering which I’ll know I could have transformed.

It is very possible to remain in this state of a rogue character, with inconsistent action, and flashes of brilliance that don’t allow you to see more. With financial troubles, and some bad habits, often low energy. This can go on for a long time. I can see people less intelligent than me moving crowds in ways I know I could improve on.This will lead to certain regret. This is the greatest risk of all. Not growing would lead to insanity.


“7. What are you waiting for? If you cannot answer this without resorting to the previously rejected concept of good timing, the answer is simple: You’re afraid, just like the rest of the world. Measure the cost of inaction, realize the unlikelihood and repair-ability of most missteps, and develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: action.”

What am I waiting for? The kind of approval that guarantees success. Getting picked up by the crowd before even starting the game, much less actually winning it. Being absolutely sure I have approval, that I won’t hurt people’s feelings. The cost of waiting is that feelings are already being hurt in our human condition, and I could be helping more.

I think I’m also waiting for emergencies to throw themselves upon me, knowing I show up at my best when I have to. The cost of this is being much less prepared when emergencies actually do come, and having to do my best with no preparation. The emergencies are already there in reality- socially, politically, and environmentally.

Action means: What is the connection I most need to make? Reach out. What’s the message I most want to share? Share it.