February 26, 2024

A Short Guide to Examining Your Barriers and Fears

Following on from a previous post about directly detailing the worst case scenario if we don’t succeed at something (and then realising that it usually isn’t anywhere near as bad as you think it will be), I put together a small guide to help people  do this exercise which is inspired by Tim Ferris’ slides  for his TED talk on the subject.

Tim has his own notes at the end of his article that are excellent and cover similar topics, but I’ve focused the concept a little bit more specific to goals you want to achieve and included some more personal ideas and thoughts. I hope that it will be of some use to you!

Guide to Examining Your Barriers and Fears

For each goal:

- What’s the worst thing(s) that could go wrong by trying to achieve this goal? List them all.

- If these scenarios happened, what could you do to fix things or get your life back to where it was? How long would that take? Are these worst-case scenarios permanent? For example, if you started a business and it failed spectacularly, losing billions of dollars for everyone involved, does that mean you’ll never find another job again? (the answer to that is no, just to be clear!)

- Why are these particular scenarios your worst-case scenarios? Are they due to fear? Shame? Maybe it reminds you of a past you want to forget? Maybe something else? Think about the underlying emotion and try and identify where it comes from.

- How can you reduce the possibility of these things happening - 'not trying to achieve the goal' is not an acceptable answer!

- How likely are these worst-case scenarios to occur - be realistic! What other scenarios are more realistic?

- What are the upsides of achieving your goal - do they outweigh the potential risks of failing?

- What’s the cost of not trying to achieve the goal? I always think of the line ‘it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ when I’m unsure about whether to do something. Is it better to have tried to achieve your goal and failed than never to have tried in the first place? Will you regret not trying in later years?

I wanted to include a small note at the end on this process. Like everyone on this planet, I’ve had my own share of struggles and some of my ‘worst-case’ scenarios actually came to pass. And just like Tim (and I) have written, they were neither permanent nor as bad as I’d feared. So go ahead with achieving your goals, what’s the worst (no pun intended) that can happen!