Now if you are wondering wha it is writing exercise to let you prevent self-paralysis or inaction that often grips us by the leash because of the unknown, the changes and the uncertainty of a situation.
In his Ted Talk he delivered as to how fear setting could be done, in three simple steps in 3 pages of paper and the Philosophical Foundations of the Activity.
The Big Idea
Tim Ferris how to fear setting was attributed to one of the darkest time of his life where he once decided to take his own life but thanks to fortunate coincidences or if you like you could call it faith, he stumbled upon the Philosophy of Stoicism.
Zeno of Cithium is known to be the founder of this Philosophy, in does lectures on his porch also known as a “Stoa” hence the name was coined as Stoicism.
Stoicism as defined in the dictionary usually define as the endurance of pain and hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. Basically just surfing through life without trying to make any reactions but trust me when I say it is so much for that.
After reading through about Stoicism he was led to the Letters of Seneca the Younger a famous Stoic writer; in the book he found a quote that made a difference in his life. The quote being:
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” -Seneca
As Tom has said from his Ted Talk, this Philosophy is applied in different aspects of life of the Ancient Greeks but for our purposes, it is the ‘preditato maloreum’ the premeditation of evil. It is the vizualizations of the worst case scenarios that you fear and preventing you take actions.
How to Fear-Setting
So, Tom Ferris how to fear setting was made because he had problems but just thinking over it is not enough because of the monkey mind which was too loud to be able to articulate solutions just by imagination.
He devised it in a very simple written format that consist of 3 pages.
- Defining and Preventing of Problem
- Repairing the Problem
- The Cost of Inaction
Step 1: Defining the Problem
This the first part of Tom Ferris how to fear setting written exercise. First you would need to divide a piece of paper into 3 parts: Define, Prevent, Repair.
Defining the problem is 50% of the solution and as Yoda says, “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
Facing your fears is one of the most difficult things you could do but it is also what makes us stronger and developed as we go through various stages of our life.
What you would need to do for this is to supply this question, “What if I…?” on the Define column, with any of the problems that you have been running away from or causing you deep distress and anxiety.
Tom suggests that you list about 10-20 problems that you can think of in any areas of your life.
Now if you are feeling a bit antsy as you do this, do not worry it is a normal reaction so if I may suggest some anxiety relievers here.
To give you an example problem, say you have been having problems lately about your anxiety or stress levels, you might be thinking this might just cause you to burn out slowly but surely.
Step 2: Preventing the Problem
We need to get to the second column, Prevent. After mulling over the possibilities of your problems, what could you do to prevent this from actually manifesting or happening in your life.
Alternatively at least decrease the likelihood that it could happen even by a fraction or a bit. Now back to the issues I gave in step 1, your burn out situation because of stress and anxiety.
To prevent it you thought of doing self-examination maybe of the symptoms or things you have been feeling lately. By doing so you just saved yourself from the downward spiral of not listening to your body.
You could ask questions about how you were feeling, the commonest symptoms is lack of vigor, slugginess, drowsiness, depressive state of mind and over reactive.
Step 3: Repairing the Problem
To the third and last column of Tim Ferris how to fear setting, it is all about giving a total or partial success from your attempts to give answers to your problem.
You might develop a skil, change your perspective, make steps and execute them, build confidence, or what might be the benefits from your attempts.
Essentially we are focusing on the upsides that you would reap from sowing the seeds of your decisions. Take at least 10-15 minutes to really think about it, apply and visualize how it could positively bring change to your emotional, physical or financial, etc. aspects of your life.
We are really trying to hammer down and show to your psyche that you might just be overthinking all of this. Your vivid imagination is taking over again and you are going to take control again not your emotions, not other people, not your environment but you.
Step 4: The Cause of Inaction
As the title suggest you guest it, this is all about the things that might just happen because you let yourself choose inaction over doing something else.
DO NOT SKIP THIS! This might just be the most important step because you will take into perspective the consequences of your decision to skip through and not look the thing you fear directly in the eye.
We have an astounding ability to see through the different possibilities that our actions can ensue, evident from our overthinking and forward thinking.
You would need to divide the page into 3 columns, this time you would need to label each by a set of timelines.
Preferably something relatively within the period of over a month to over three years because it becomes blurry when you passed by those points.
Our consciousness is quite amazing to think of the different things that an event could make up of, that is why compared to the animals and living things around us we are more advance.
Use this valuable gift, do not let your automatic/default thinking drown out your active choices.
At the end of the talk, Tim, shared a inspiring story about Jerzy Gregorek a 4 time World Champion in Weighlifting and published poet.
He had a rough past after being part of the Solidarity Movement in Poland they were chase over by the government as they were being violently oppressed.
He lost his job as a fire fighter; his mentor, a priest was kidnapped, tortured, killed and thrown into a river.
So they flee the country, after many times of hopping to one country to another he and his wife found their way in US without anything; ended up sleeping on floors.
But now he is living in California, a very nice place and he is living a very successful fulfilled life.
One time Tim emailed him about Stoicism, he replied with 2 pages of Philosophy. He pointed out it is one of the biggest factor to all the things he believed in and all the inflection points in his life, Jerzey would credit this Philosophy.
He ended the email with two things, first, he couldn’t imagine a life more beautiful than that of a Stoic.
The last his mantra and the thing that he applies to everything:
“Easy choices, Hard Life, Hard Choices, Easy Life.” – Jerzey Gregorek
Fear is a figment of the mind, the reactive property to something unknown or unexplored territories. To have the courage to explore and unlock the path going to the unknown are the ones that became successful from their journey.
The activity may at first sounds like something ordinary, but shouldn’t we all give it a shot?
Do it at least once a month, start it now and comment below how it made you feel afterwards. I would love to hear some of your experiences and insights.
One more thing, if you want you could use this template made by Marvin Russel from the Medium.