Fear Setting: A Checklist Template for Defining Your Fears

Did you catch Tim Ferriss’ recent Ted Talk, “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals”? As an entrepreneur it home because I’m constantly making checklists to manage the constant chaos in my life. Of course, within those checklists are several lists with personal and professional goals and milestones. But there is one list I do not have, and that is what Ferriss calls “Fear Setting”.

In this Ted Talk, Ferriss explains how to handle life’s difficult choices, and the results from either taking action or not taking action. Ferriss shares this thing called “Fear Setting” as an important tool that will help us overcome the fear of making difficult choices.


According to Google, Stoicism is “the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint”.

When I think of Stoicism, I usually think of great athletes, although the philosophy is consciously practiced by business leaders, successful entrepreneurs and anyone faced with adversity.

Athletes and coaches are a great examples of stoic individuals because they are constantly facing difficult decisions on TV and in the spotlight.

Take Tom Brady, quarterback for the world champion New England Patriots. When he steps back to pass, 300 pound athletes are charging in every direction solely focused on crushing Brady before he throws the ball.

Whether Brady is crushed, throws and interception, or an incomplete pass, he remains stoic. He practices staying mentally tough without emotion or complaint so he’s better mentally prepared for the next play.

Brady’s head coach, Bill Belichick, is probably the definition of stoic. I mean, have you ever seen the man smile or show any emotion at all why going to war on the football field?

How many NFL championships have they won together….5?

Fear Setting

In Ferriss’ words, Fear Setting is “An operating system for for thriving in high stress environments. It’s a way to visualize all the bad things that could happen to you, so you because less afraid of taking action.

Think of Fear Setting as the opposite of goal setting. Instead of making a checklist of what you want to do, make a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you are afraid will happen.

Fear Setting Templates

Click to download the free Fear Setting Template

Page 1: Fear Setting

Define — What are the worst things could happen?
Prevent — How do I prevent each from happening?
Repair — If the worst happens, how can i fix it?

Page 2: Fear Setting

Page 3: Fear Setting

Here are the lists and a free template to save or download.
• 6 months
• 1 year
• 3 years

Now, for a brief moment, imagine doing and saying the things we avoid.

Are you afraid of quitting your stressful job?
Are you afraid to speak your mind to a friend or spouse?
Are you afraid to ask for a raise you deserve?
Are you afraid to take a year off life?
Are you afraid to ask for forgiveness?

Often times, these are exact things we need to do for us to be more happy and successful. This is why Fear Setting is important.

Please feel free to save a copy of each template above or download them as a PDF.

Hard choices = Easy life

While I’ll let you watch the Ted Talk and learn the details of Jerzy’s story, you should know that Ferriss considers Jerzy to be on of the top 10 most successful and happiest people he has ever met.

After facing extreme hardship in his life, and coming to America with nothing, Jerzy now enjoys a life of success and happiness. Jerzy had a few brilliantly spoken words that made a profound impact on Ferriss. I will leave you with his words, and of course encourage you to check out Ferriss’ Ted Talk.

“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.” ~ Jerzy Gregorek

2 startups. 2 successful exits. Head of Growth @SureSwiftCap • Moonlighting as CEO of http://Checkli.com.

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