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How “Fear-Setting” Can Change Your Life After 60

By Elizabeth Dunkel January 28, 2019 Mindset

For the last few years, I’ve been paralyzed by the fears I create in my mind about moving away from a place where I’ve lived for 28 years.

I presently live in Merida, Mexico, a place many boomers are retiring to. It’s a hot, tropical paradise with a low cost of living. But I need a change, and I’m thinking of going in the opposite direction: to a cold, northern city.

Am I crazy? I ask myself. So, I haven’t budged yet because I’m petrified by the ‘what if’s’ and the possibility of regrets and seemingly countless fears that I cook up at all hours of the day and night.

Will I miss my current home? Can I afford to live in the U.S.? Will I be lonely? Will I make friends? Will I regret the move? Am I too old to move and start a new life? Will I run out of money in a more expensive country?

But Then I Learned About Fear Setting

We all know about the importance of goal-setting. It’s when you write down a list of things you’d like to accomplish; targets for the future to work towards. Goal setting is fun and crucial if we want to move ahead.

But more important than having goals, is how our fears often stop us from reaching them! Fear is crippling and is the reason we often never achieve our goals.

So, when I heard about ‘fear-setting’ this week, my ears pricked up immediately.

Meet Tim Ferriss

Fear-setting is a concept invented by Tim Ferriss. He’s a multi-talented thought leader and entrepreneur and author of many books, including The Four-Hour Workweek and his newest, Tribe of Mentors. Tim also has a popular blog and podcasts, where you can find out all about him.

Tim says, “Fear is the reason we don’t reach our goals.” So, he developed an exercise called fear-setting, and you can download the pdf here. It’s not complicated at all. In fact, it’s so easy, you’ll wonder, as I did, why you never did it before.

Ferriss says, “It is the most powerful exercise I do. Fear-setting has produced my biggest business and personal successes, as well as repeatedly helped me to avoid catastrophic mistakes.”

What Is Fear?

First, Tim’s definition of fear is: “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome.” The important word here is ‘irreversible.’ There are very few things in life that are irreversible. And if something is irreversible, it’s a good risk to stay away from.

Fear also doesn’t exist. Take a look at this acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real, i.e., FEAR. We project our fears onto a future that hasn’t happened yet. We’re afraid of things that might never happen!

Start Fear-Setting by Writing a List of Your Fears

Take a piece of paper and make three columns. At the top of the page you write: Define. Prevent. Repair. Then, under Define you write down each fear specifically, in a list. You want details. Then you write what you can do to Prevent each fear, and finally, what you can do to Repair the fear if it happens.

Once you face each fear and quantify it, once you analyze how you can prevent that fear from happening – and what to do if you must repair the situation – things don’t seem so impossible or drastic.

We can stare the fear in the face and take the power away from it. What monsters we create in our minds! And these monsters stop us from accomplishing our goals.

What Is the Cost of Not Acting?

After I realized I could totally deal with my fears head on, I needed to look at the cost of not acting: of not moving to a new home in the first world. Oh my! The costs were steep: I would experience depression, anger, regret. These are costs I’m not willing to pay!

I faced my fears and wrote down solutions. I looked at the cost of not acting. It all helped me to realize I can handle this move – and what’s more, do it joyfully with a great sense of adventure and success! This is the right thing for me to do. My house is on the market and I’ll keep you posted!

How do you handle your fears? How do your fears handle you? What kinds of things has fear stopped you from doing? Do tell us how you’ve overcome your fears to reach your goals. Please join the conversation below.

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The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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