Our decision-making process is often irrational. Because we usually only have a method of rationalizing the costs and benefits but no technique for rationalizing fear.

For example, assume you want to explore asking an opposite gender out. The benefit, if successful, is being able to go out with the girl and know her better. The cost, if unsuccessful, is shame and time wasted from the rejection. Shame is temporal, exists larger in your imagination. Time? That’s probably 15 minutes of your time. While the gain is a lifetime partner, an incomparable comparison.

But even after rationalizing that the costs are incomparable to the benefits. We often still decide to flight instead of fight. Why?

Tim Ferriss introduces this framework, a few questions we can ask ourselves to visualize our fears and better grasp what we actually fear. He calls it fear setting, and after trying it, it often does help.

The steps

1. Define the question

What if I do X ?

2. Define

All of the 10-20 worst things that could happen if you do decide to do X.

3. Prevent

What could you do to prevent each of these points from happening? Or to lower the likelihood of it happening?

4. Repair

If the worst-case scenario does happen, what could to do to repair the damage, or who could I ask for help?

5. On the Positive

What might be the benefits of an attempt or a partial success?

6. The costs of inaction

In 6 months

In 1 year

In 3 years

An Example: On Youtube

  1. What if I decide to start a youtube channel and post videos once a week documenting my life?
  2. The worst things that could happen are…
    1. I lose time cause no one actually watches it.
    2. I get criticized and canceled.
    3. I don’t excel in my other areas because I juggle too much work and lack focus.
  3. What could I do to prevent or mitigate the above?
    1. Don’t overthink it, set aside limited time, and just do it.
    2. Revise and filter my content before publishing.
    3. Don’t over-perfect my content. Just publish.
  4. If the worst-case scenario does happen, how could I repair it?
    1. Start putting time back to what matters.
    2. Apologize. People are quick to forgive.
    3. Cut down on time spent on youtube, or stop doing it.
  5. What might be the benefits of an attempt or a partial success?
    1. At least I learned, experienced, tried, and have work to show for.
    2. I’ll be able to process and distillate my thoughts more.
    3. It’ll have been fun. 😄
    4. I’ll find a group of like-minded friends who enjoy what I enjoy.
    5. Is a live documentation of my working process.
  6. Costs of inaction
    1. Regret for not trying
    2. Regret for making fear keep me at bay from something I know to be helpful
    3. Constant fear of showing my work due to critique.


I believe this method is beneficial for increasing the clarity of a decision. Granted, it is short-term and is but another support. The only way to truly conquer the fear of doing hard things is to do the hard thing.

Cliche, but just do it.