Timothy Ferriss, an American entrepreneur, public speaker and author of several self-help books including The 4-hour Workweek, was on the edge of committing suicide before he had an epiphany, that changed his life, and the lives of thousands he has inspired, since then. Ferriss, who suffered from a range of behavioural issues, including bipolar disorder, has crafted a simple, but nevertheless highly effective approach to tackling problems, that might seem almost insurmountable. Through a series of fortunate accidents, he came up with a system called What if I, or a Fear-Setting module, as opposed to a goal setting programme.
According to Ferriss, the first step to overcoming a challenge or a fear is defining a challenge (s), or a series of these hurdles on a sheet of paper. The second step involves charting out a prevention plan for these said challenges and finding ways to minimise the impact, if at all they do happen to spring up. Step 3 is the repair stage, which is fundamentally, damage control – something’s gone wrong, how does one go about setting it right. Interestingly, on a second sheet, one needs to forecast, what might be the benefits of an attempt or a partial success. And the third sheet happens to be the most critical – it’s here where you map out the Cost of Inaction – emotionally, physically and financially.
It seems like a simple process, but Ferriss compels us to think about our lives in the context of timelines, six months, one year and three years. How our actions, or our inactions go on to govern the course of our lives, is the peg that Ferriss latches onto. The talk also provides insights into the idea of how hard choices make for an easy life, whereas easy choices make for a hard life. Ferriss introduces the notion of Stoicism in this Ted Talk as well, referring to the philosopher Seneca, who he quotes as having said, we suffer more in imagination than in reality. Ferriss tells his audiences that his choice to embark on this Fear Setting exercise helped him take his very first long vacation in four years, which also led to him penning his first book, which went on to become a global bestseller, and eventually contributed to him being one of the most sought after public speakers in the world. For those looking for an instant shot of pep talk – look no further than this little gem of wisdom on the Ted Talks platform.
TITLE: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
SYNOPSIS: Tim Ferriss gets talking on the virtue of stoicism
SOURCE: Ted Talks
For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time.
But you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. Focus on being productive instead of busy.