Are You Using Fear-Setting to Help You Reconnect to Your Courage?

Wow life works in mysterious ways! Yesterday I watched a TED Talk by Amanda Palmer on the Art of Asking as I was researching for a client. I shut down my computer (i.e. by closing the screen) and then went to Carols by the Beach with my sister and husband. Then this morning when I got up, I opened the computer and a TED Talk started playing (yes I was connected to the internet). Wow…

The TED Talk was by Tim Ferriss on why you should define your fears instead of your goals. As it was playing, I watched and took the information on board. My response – I really liked it and implemented in straight away as I have been completing my own End-of-Year Ritual!

As some people know, I have a fear list as well as a be/do list and the fear list was created for similar reasons – I believe fear holds us back from living the life we truly dream of more than anything else. So let’s start with what is fear and then move on to fear-setting.


What is Fear?

Maybe you have heard –

  • FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real
  • FEAR – Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise
  • “…an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” – Google
  • “…an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events.” – Wikipedia
  • “to be afraid of (something or someone)” or “to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • “An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” – Oxford Dictionaries
  • “A very unpleasant or disturbing feeling caused by the presence or imminence of danger.” – The Free Dictionary


What is Fear-Setting?

Fear-setting is a reflective exercise designed by Tim Ferriss that helps you make decision more clearly by seeing what fear is holding you back and distorting your thinking. You can read more about the background (i.e the why of fear-setting) on his blog here and watch his Ted Talk below.

Disclaimer: before watching the Ted Talk, if you are going through a challenging time with your Mental Health, please get support and there is a list of resources available here.


How Can I Use Fear-Setting in My Life?

After watching the Ted Talk, you will know fear-setting is based on visualising the worst-case scenarios in detail that you fear is preventing you from taking action, so you can take action and overcome paralysis. Fear-setting is the written exercise Tim created to transform this paralysis.

The exercise consists of 3 pages and is as follows –

Page 1 – What if I…?

  • Identify – What is causing you fear? What is causing you anxiety? What are you putting off? For example – asking someone out, ending a relationship, starting to transition in to a new career/business.
  • Column 1 – define – identify all of the worst things that could happen if you choose to take the action. Identify at least 10-20 things. Once you have these, then go to the prevent column.
  • Column 2 – prevent – what could I do to prevent each of these worst things from happening or decrease the likelihood of these things from happening? Then go to repair.
  • Column 3 – repair – if the worst case scenarios happened, what could I do to repair the damage a little bit or who could I ask for help?

Something to keep in mind for this page is, has someone else already figured the things out in column 1?


Page 2 – What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success? For example – might you build skills or increase confidence. Spend 10-15 minutes on reflecting on this question.


Page 3 – the Cost of Inaction (i.e. physically, emotionally, financially, socially etc.). For example – if I avoid this action or decision and actions and decisions like it, what would my life look like in 6 months, 1 year or 3 years time?


That is it, that is fear-setting!

Over to You…

Now you have clarity on your fears, what choice are you going to make? Remember, your life is your responsibility and consistent, conscious, courageous action is what transforms it!


If you are ready to take yourself on the adventure of getting to know yourself (your true self), why not join the Toolkit? A place where I share tools, inspiration and ideas to live a courageous and openhearted life.



  • Mark

    Reply Reply February 8, 2019

    Thank you Jane. Have been in a period of transition for much longer than I had hoped and it’s all been because of fear. Having this process to work through will be a lot of help. I look forward to watching the TedTalk and implementing this.

    Thank you again

    • Jane

      Reply Reply February 10, 2019

      You are welcome Mark! The thanks goes to Tim though for creating it 🙂

  • Mariyah

    Reply Reply January 2, 2019

    I love this write up, I find it very useful and inspiring.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply January 2, 2019

      Glad you found it useful and inspiring Mariyah! Have a wonderful year 🙂

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