Why you should define your fears instead of your goals | Tim Ferriss

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals | Tim Ferriss

The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action? Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls fear-setting. Learn more about how this practice can help you thrive in high-stress environments and separate what you can control from what you cannot.

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Tim Ferriss | Consider Risky Moves by ‘Fear-Setting'

Goal setting is one thing, but how about 'fear setting'? Tim Ferriss encourages us to ask ourselves “What’s the worst that could happen?” – and not treat it rhetorically. Ferriss' latest book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (

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How do you take risks and manage risks? Well, it starts with defining risk. So people start to manage risk and think of risk and plan for risk without ever defining it in the first place. This is where we get ourselves into a lot of trouble. And many people view me as a risk taker. How do you get comfortable taking so many risks? I don't view myself as a risk taker at all, I actually view myself as an expert or a would-be expert at the very least in risk mitigation. I think of myself as very, very conservative and I think of risk as the probability or the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome, the irreversible is super important in that sense. And the way that I work through different decisions or potential risks is by following an exercise called fear setting. And I do this at least once a month. I do this certainly multiple times a quarter. And it is akin to goal setting. A lot of people focus on goal setting. Well, if you're riding around with the emergency brake on, i.e. small or big fears, and as Tony Robbins, who I interviewed for Tools of Titans might say, Stressed is the achiever word for fear. So if you're feeling stressed same, same. It is fear.

So here's how you work through it so you're more effective and less reactive, emotionally reactive in your decision making and just responding honestly to external circumstances. Fear setting. What does it look like? It's very simple. What I do is free hand this so I use a piece of paper. I'll take a piece of paper and I'll turn it vertical so we have 8.5 x 11. I'll put two lines equally distanced like so so you have three columns. Now, the decision that I am considering making I'll put at the top, the risk. And then in the first column I'll write down all of the worst things that could possibly happen. And the key element here is specificity. Super specific. So what are the worst things that could happen if you made this decision? If you, and this is broad but it could be launch the new product; dedicated a team to a different project; fired half of your staff, whatever it might be. It could be quitting a job; taking a new job; breaking up with someone; proposing to someone, whatever it might be. Write down all of the worst things that could happen with the greatest amount of detail possible. They need to be specific so think of them as sort of the anti-goals. To set good goals they need to be what? Smart. Specific, measurable, achievable, blah, blah, blah I don't know what R is; I can never remember R, T, timeline. Reasonable, I don't know who knows. Rad, let's go with rad. But anyways you don't want this to be rad, but those same criteria you would use for goals you're using for these fears. They need to be specific. All the worst things could happen.

All right. Second column is what could I do to minimize the likelihood of each of those things from happening? What could I do to minimize likelihood of all those things from happening each one in turn? Next column is what could I do to get back to where I am now if these things happen? Again, one by one you go down the list. What could I do to get back to where I am now? And if you're considering say quitting your job and starting your own company, well certainly you could start by moonlighting so that would be one in the column. Maybe you could take a bartending job or a waitering job if everything went to hell in a hand basket to get back on track. And they're are the same type of coping mechanisms, they're the same type of financing options, they're the same type of short-term say remote contracting virtual team options, whatever it might to be as a CEO, as a VP of marketing, as a fill in the blank, whatever the title might be however you think of yourself also you can do this. So fear setting at the top of the page; what you thinking about doing, the risk, the thing that might be risky or that is scaring you and then all the worst things that could happen bullets of by bullet as specific as possible in the middle; what you could do in each case for each bullet to minimize the likelihood of each happening; and then last what you could do to get back to where you are now if each of those happen.

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals Tim Ferriss translated by Amal Ben Youssef

Tim Ferriss on GETTING RESULTS. NEW Goal Setting Worksheet

Get the helper document for Tim's talk here: GOOD STUFF!

After years of healing cancer and degenerative diseases we are given a second chance. What we do with it is up to us. Goal setting (specificity) Gratitude heals overwhelm, Schedule 80-20 analysis, get to positive emotional states. Put together a to do and NOT to do list. Utilize force multipliers. Fear setting. Defining your fears. Focus, aim and take action. Live your life fully. That's it! Bill Z.

Tim Ferriss on The Practicality of Pessimism: Stoicism as a Productivity System. Ep 20

Tim Ferriss, the author of the 4-Hour Workweek, talks about a different type of productivity technique, one based on Stoicism. Tim asks that you ponder this: could defining your fears be more important than defining your goals?

Keep your goals to yourself | Derek Sivers

After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone -- but Derek Sivers says it's better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the Sixth Sense wearable tech, and Lost producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on TED.com, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals | Tim Ferriss

Author of three #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, The 4-Hour Workweek/Body/Chef. Japanophile, tea drinker, tango world record holder, language learning fanatic.

The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action?

Tim Ferriss will be joined us at Google to talk about his career, books, podcasts, and stoicism. Tim was asked the following questions: What has been the most .

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Tim Ferriss Pierda el miedo, aprenda lo que quiera TED talk Subtitulado Parte 1

How to Conquer Your Fears | Overcome the fear of Failure | Inspired by Fear setting with Tim Ferriss

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Let’s talk about how to conquer fear. While I’ve been enjoying making these videos so much, doing it without a full-time income and a baby on the way is certainly scary. There’s also the factor of overcoming fear of failure. What if I’m not good enough?

During times like these, here’s a helpful exercise to do when making decisions that you might try.

Fear Setting TED TALK by Tim Ferriss


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4 Hour Workweek Book


The basic premise is that when you fear into something tangible. Something you can examine closely. By defining the worst case scenarios of going after your dreams, you may see the obstacles in a new light.

Perhaps you’ll find, that they weren’t so bad after all. Maybe, as you do it. You are already conquering fear.

How to fight fear? Get rid of the idea that you should ignore fear. Instead, it’s all about facing it and conquering fear.

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Tim ferriss on fear setting- Fear Week

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Day five of our fear week
Today author, entrepreneur, angel investor, and public speaker Tim ferriss speaks on fear setting in order to attain the goals most important to us.

What I Liked About Tim Ferriss's Latest TED Talk On Fear

In today's episode I'm breaking down Tim Ferriss's most recent TED talk titled Why you should define your fears instead of your goals. In this TED talk, Tim shares a simple exercise he calls Fear Setting which helps him break out of the paralyzing grips of fear, and focus on what he can control in situations. 

In the episode I share a personal example of using this Fear Setting Exercise to weigh the costs and benefits of a fearful situation in my life. 

I highly recommend watching Tim's TED talk, which you can see here:

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TED Talk | Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action? Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls fear-setting.

This video was created from a video from TED ( which holds the copyrights of the audio content of this video.

Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals

Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals
The Lesson: Tim Ferriss has suffered from frequent bouts of deep depression over the course of his l...
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Jocko Podcast 100 w/ Tim Ferriss - Musashi. Warrior Code and Life

Join the conversation on Twitter/Instagram:
@jockowillink @tferriss @echocharles

0:00:00 - Opening

0:01:00 - Tim's recent Silent Retreat.

0:09:12 - Musashi, An Epic Novel of The Samurai Era 

3:03:52 - Final Take-Aways.  The Path.

3:33:37 - Support: JockoStore stuff, Super Krill Oil and Joint Warfare, Origin Brand Apparel, with Jocko White Tea,  Onnit Fitness stuff, and Psychological Warfare (on iTunes). Extreme Ownership (book), The Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual. 

4:02:26 - Closing Gratitude.

Tony Robbins: How to Reprogram Your Brain ( Tony Robbins Mindset )

If you have a desire to change the way you think and behave it is completely, 100% possible. The brain is constantly forming new connections and molding itself into how you're telling it to operate. By practicing self-awareness and staying mindful, as then you can rein in those negative thoughts and destructive habits and start right now being a better, more positive you.

Begin to monitor your thoughts on a daily basis. The beauty of human evolution is that we've developed two selves: the primal one that does and the evolved one that monitors. You are able to observe yourself and your thoughts 24/7. With every thought that raises a red flag, stop for a second and think about it. Was it negative? Destructive? What triggered it? Does it seem logical? Addictive? You will notice a pattern to your thoughts as you begin practicing self-awareness.

Define your thought patterns. After a week or so, take a hard look at that pattern. Maybe most of your thoughts are negative, you are critical of yourself or others, or you experience unnecessary thoughts that aren't important or beneficial to you. For each person it will be different. Once you identify this pattern, you can go about stopping it.

Create a space between your thoughts and actions. This cycle is a cycle, sure, but it can be slowed down. When you start feeling that pattern creep up, stop and breathe. Try not to be reactive. How would you prefer to react? What positive thought can you put in your head instead?
For example, let's say you're watching TV and you see an ad with a beautiful woman. You think to yourself, I could never be her, or I could never get her. Stop for a second, and finish that thought better. Think, But I have good qualities x, y, and z, or I'm going to use this as motivation to start working out and feel better about myself, because I've decided to seek out happiness, not negativity.
Realize that for all your actions and thoughts you are getting some reward. Worrying constantly? You probably feel like you're covering your bases or not getting your hopes up. Deflating your sense of self? It probably feels safe being down in the dumps, so your hopes can't crash down around you. Think about what you're getting out of your thoughts? Is what your getting really worth it?

Be mindful of the words you use in your mind and what you say to others. Your words can hurt people – including yourself – and this can only have a negative impact upon yourself and your resulting behaviors and thoughts. If they seem to crop up, tell yourself to stop. Just stop. Divert your attention to something more positive that keeps you on track.


Choose your reactive behaviors. As a child you are told to think, behave and to adopt certain belief systems which often shape the type of person you become. Some fears and insecurities you developed can also be carried through into your adulthood. Often, we get stuck into action-reaction patterns, not realizing we could interpret the situation and react any number of ways. When you have a negative reaction, this is an opportunity to assess it. If something infuriates you, why? Would other people you know react the same way? How would they react differently? How would they react better?

Develop new thoughts to create these new, positive habits. You've identified your bad thoughts, you've stopped them, and you've replaced them with good ones. Now you just have to be persistent and repeat these new thoughts as often as possible. It will become habit, just like your old thoughts became habit. As long as you stay mindful and thinking it's possible, it will happen. That's what brains do.

American Dream U: Tim Ferriss - Stoicism and Fear of Risk

While speaking at American Dream U's Vetracon event, Tim Ferriss reminds us to not fear risk instead, disarm it and it will no longer hold the power of fear over you. Watch this video in its entirety plus our full video library by signing up for the free MVP membership:

Tim Ferriss on Mastery: Start with End Game and Make Space for Creativity

Amid all the powerhouse, brilliant minds Tim Ferriss has interviewed for his podcast and new book Tools of Titans, one idea kept springing up: creating empty space. A second concept, by contrast, came up only once, through conversations with Joshua Waitzkin, an American chess player who takes an ‘endgame’ approach to every pursuit he undertakes. Ferriss explains these two concepts in detail, why they’re so vital, and how they can be applied across many fields.

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Transcript - One of the concepts that comes up over and over again with prolific creative minds that I've interviewed for the Tim Ferriss Show or for the book Tools of Titans is creating empty space. And one of the guests Josh Waitzkin, who never does any media, can I curse on this? He always texts me with profanity laden SMSs because I'm the only one who can pull him out of his cave to do media. But he is best known perhaps as the chest prodigy, and I'll explain why I put that in air quotes, besides how funny it looks on camera, that formed the basis or who formed the basis for Searching for Bobby Fischer, both the book and the movie. He was a very well known chess player and continues to be an incredible chess player. But he has applied his learning framework to more than chess. So he was a world champion in tai chi push hands, he was the first black belt in Brazilian jujitsu under the phenom probably the best of all time Marcelo Garcia, who trains in New York City and he's a nine-time world champion something like that. And he's now tackling paddle surfing and he can apply it to just about anything. He works with some of the top financial mines in the world, hedge fund managers and beyond, the best of the best; top one percent.

So, why? What are the principles that he shares? One of them is creating empty space, cultivating empty space as a way of life, and these are all tied together so I'll mention another one. Learning the macro from the micro and then beginning with the end in mind. And these all work together. So I'll explain in fact the last two first. Josh learned to play chess or I should say more accurately was coached by his first real coach in the opposite direction when compared to most training and most chess books. He was taught in reverse. What does that mean? He began with the end game and with very few pieces. So they cleared all the pieces off the board, instead of starting with openings, meaning what do you do first the first five to ten moves, he started with the ending game with king and pawn versus king. What does this do? Well this forces you to focus on principles like opposition, creating space, zugzwang, which is a principle of forcing your opponent to do anything that will destroy their position or anything they can possibly do will worsen their position. And these types of principles that you learn when there's an empty board with a few pieces accomplish a few things. Read Full Transcript Here:

Get Motivated & Change Your Life - How to Define and Reach Your Goals

The legendary Earl Nightingale shares The Strangest Secret to help you change your life for the better.

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