Have you ever found yourself faced with a decision that feels not only overwhelming, but crippling?
We all have defining moments in our lives that force us to reconsider the status quo. Sometimes, what stops us from making the right (but HARD) decisions is the fear that we’ll fall flat on our faces and, ultimately, that we won’t be able to recover from the failure. Fear stops us dead in our tracks. So, we retreat from the edge of uncertainty and choose comfort over courage.
The amygdala (reptilian brain) takes over like an overprotective big brother, signals that your livelihood is being threatened, and shuts everything down. You begin rationalizing your inaction. After all, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right?
What if you had a framework for examining your decision through a different lens? What if you could circle-back to the big brother and question his assumptions upon which he based the need to protect you? What if through examining the decision with precision, you could override the fear, altogether? What if you could choose the difficult path and live to tell the tale?
You’ve likely heard of goal-setting, but maybe you’re new to the concept of fear-setting. One of my favourite podcast hosts, Tim Ferriss, describes the process in his Ted Talk. Sometimes, when you’re faced with that jump of the cliff moment of a big decision, fear-setting can be the answer you need to bring clarity to a situation, allow you to make a decision without second-guessing it, and to ultimately, choose courage over comfort.
The framework recently helped me to make a big career decision that, initially, had me shaking in my boots. Once I examined my fears head-on, I was able to make the decision without doubting myself.
So, if you’re faced with a big, bad decision related to any aspect of your life, try it out sometime.
You’ll need three pages in a journal or on your computer:
Page One Define and name the Fear: What if I ____?
Create three columns
1. Define Fear: What is holding you back?
- Make a list of the worst things imaginable associated with the choice (10-20 things)
2. Prevent: What are the preventative steps one could take to avoid the worst things imaginable?
- List them all!
3. Repair: If the worst case happens, how do I come back from it?
At the bottom of the page, reflect on the following: Has anyone less intelligent/less driven figured this out? Chances are that they have, and so can you!
Page two: What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?
This helps you to create a framework through which even partial success relates to a win. Often this comes down to an increase in:
- Connection with those you love
- Creating boundaries
- Growing your business
- Growing your family
- Meeting people
- Practice for the big projects
Page three: What are the costs of inaction, emotionally, physically, and financially?
Inaction can be a regret-maker. It’s likely that envisioning the costs associated with inaction will be the magic sauce that tips you over the edge, that enables you to stand behind that hard decision, that allows you to invite the fear.
Break down the costs using the following time-increments:
- 6 months
- 1 year
- 3 years
- 10 years
Next, ask yourself: What is the cost of the status quo? What might my life look like in:
- 6 months
- 1 year
- 3 years
- 10 years
I hope you found this framework useful. I always love to hear from my readers, so feel free to message or email me:)
Bottom line, easy choices usually result in a hard life. If you’re able to front-end load your life with hard choices, I believe it’ll lead you to an easier, more fulfilled life.
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