Fear is natural. But left untamed, it can destroy you.
Did you know you can manage your fears like you can manage a head cold? Introducing Fear Setting, an absolutely essential tool for decoding your fears and generating the motivation you need to reach your goals.
Fear Setting and Why It’s Important
As an avid reader and writer, it’s safe to say that I’ve loved quotes for as long as I can remember. The best part about quotes is that you can feel them before you even understand them. To me, reading a quote is like walking into the kitchen before dinner. You know something’s cooking and you know it smells delicious, but you have to take a closer look or taste to see the individual ingredients.
I’ve had a few quotes scribbled down in my massive quotes notebook for the better part of three years:
Passion lies at the edge of uncertainty
Everything you want is on the other side of fear
Now, while I’m sure certain shades of those quotes have manifested in my life, I had never come across a circumstance where I truly had to embrace them.
To me, it seems that if you want to live a fulfilled, passionate life, you’re going to have to face your fears at some point, especially if you want to avoid making fear-based decisions for the rest of your life. I’ve learned some examples of fear-based decisions include:
Staying at a job because the money is good
Staying in a relationship because it’s comfortable
Distancing yourself from any goal or change by saying “it could never work”
Thinking you’re not good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough to do the thing(s) you really want to do
I’ve learned there is some good news and bad news when it comes to fear. The bad news: it is natural, meaning it will come up whether you want it to or not. I’ve found that it normally comes up exactly when you don’t want it to. The good news: there are ways of managing it and even discrediting it in a way that gives you comfort, confidence, and motivation.
What is Fear Setting?
Before I came across fear setting, my fears kind of had a mind of their own. I personify them here because they truly felt alive. Fear seemed to roll over me like clouds before a storm, hijack my brain for minutes, hours, or days, and wreak havoc on my sense of self, sense of direction, and motivation. After what felt like a literal siege inside of my cranium, whatever goal or vision I was working towards suddenly did not feel as solid, as though the foundations had been undermined. A fear-based mindset felt like one that I could not control. Instead, the mindset controlled me, putting me out of touch with my instinct and sense of reality.
I first came across fear setting when reading Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Workweek. The exercise comes at a pivotal moment in the book, right after you discover that you aren’t happy with your current circumstances and right before you define what it is that you would rather be doing.
This article gives amazing instructions and even a template for fear setting. It’s so good, that I’m not going to try and recreate it in this post. Just visit the post and it will tell you everything you need to know. Shout out to medium.com.
Consequences of Letting Your Fears Win
I once had a friend tell me that he would rather live life with regrets than a wish list. Regrets? Who wants to live life with regrets? He then explained that he would rather regret the things he had done then wish he would have done the things he didn’t.
Hopefully, that makes sense.
When fear takes over, it can derail your plans, your mindset, and your sense of self. Our brains are remarkably complicated organs yet they can also be quite simple. When our rational and fear-based selves are at odds, one side has to win. Without the proper tools or protocols, letting your fears win can make you wind up with a lifelong list of things you never gave yourself the permission to do.
Example: But What if I Fail?
At Year Disrupted, we are, quite literally on the eve of leaving our lives behind. We’re saying “see you later” to the way we’ve lived for years and questioning everything we’ve been taught in terms of success, happiness, and financial security.
I remember when we first made the decision to quit our jobs, grow business online, and set in motion the plans to spend 2020 traveling the world while generating income. It was such a relief, an exciting, momentous occasion. Finally, I thought, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. Remember when I said fear visited at unwanted times? Just as I needed that initial excitement, confidence, and momentum to support me through the logistical and emotional next steps, boom. Fear.
What if I Fail? What if I can’t do it?
This was a big one because so many individual fears conspired to make this one, individual fear. When I started to decode this thought, I found several components underneath.
But what if I fail?
What if my business isn’t successful?
And what does it even mean for my business to be successful?
What will future employers think of this huge gap in my resume?
How will I explain myself to friends and family who are rooting for me?
What if I don’t have enough money?
What does enough money even mean?
When I decoded this fear, I realized that many of its components were as though I had already failed. For example, explaining the gap in my resume to my future employer is living in a reality that is SO far away, that the world might be over by then. Plus, if everything goes according to plan, then I will not need to even worry about that.
What if I fail? There were so many vague questions that lead to such a damning belief. It was hyperbolic and dramatic, but did it even mean anything legitimate?
What if I succeed? This mindset seemed much more definable and exciting. Taking fear-based steps to prevent hypothetical situations that may or may not happen would mean continuing to live a deferred life plan.
What if I succeed? This question involves more agency, more creativity, and vision. It can be harder, but it’s more fulfilling. I get to decide what it means to succeed instead of fearing the vague meaning of failure.
I wish I could say that fear was a one-time villain that I had permanently vanquished once and for all. In reality, fear continues to pop in every once in a while, even though every logistic is already set in motion for this plan. I’ve learned that the brain hijacks are far less frequent and intense. It’s a habit and a practice, much like going to the gym even when you’re tired. If you’re ready to try something new or just live your life with more of an abundance mindset, give fear setting a try and let me know what you think!