Fear-Setting: Heard of It?

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When I was in Grade Six, I switched schools. Along with the social awkwardness of being the new girl and trying to make friends, I was introduced to the anxiety producing world of exams. 

I didn't know what happened to the kids that failed their grade 6 history exam, but I knew that I did not want to find out. 

As you can imagine, this fear of failure would send me into an anxious tailspin the night before any exam. Too worried to study, too worked up to sleep, I would turn to my Mom in panic, admit that I wasn't prepared and warn her of the catastrophic results that were surely to come. 

She would sit me down, pull out her calculator and say the worst case scenario is that you go in, write your name and can't answer a single question. If you get a 0, you'll end up with this final grade in the class. If you get 50%, you'll end up with this and so on and so on. By the end of our time together, I'd have realized that the world was not going to end if I failed my Grade 6 History midterm (which I never did).

Shockingly, life would go on. 

That right there is fear-setting. I just didn't know it at the time. So I had to laugh last week when I was listening to Marie Forleo interview Tim Ferriss and he started to explain the importance of letting your mind go to the worst case scenario.

If you took that risk, made that leap, ended that relationship, started that business, what is the worst that could possibly happen?

Then you write it down. Because here's the thing, we all know goal-setting. It's great. It's a powerful tool that helps us get crystal clear on who we want to be, where we want to go and how best to get there. But there's one big problem - it ignores the tricky little beast that often shows up whenever we're faced with a decision that could change our lives forever or chasing a dream we really, really want to accomplish.


How many times has fear stopped you in your tracks? The fear of failure, judgement or of not being good enough. I know for me, the answer is more often than I'd like to admit. And that's where the power of fear-setting comes in.

It gets the fear out of your head and onto paper where you can actually do something about it. 

You get crystal clear on the horrible things that could happen and somehow by doing this, they no longer seem as frightening. Then by understanding the fear, you define what steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of what you most fear actually happening. Finally, you reflect on what you could do to repair the damage if the worst case scenario actually does occur.

In my experience, it's always the scariest dreams that you need to chase and the hardest decisions that you need to make. Through fear-setting you come to a powerful realization: 

the cost of not making the leap is a hell of a lot higher than the fear of what might happen if you fail.

If fear-setting is something that seems of use to you, check out this TedTalk by Tim Ferriss.