Are Your Fears Stopping You From Attaining Your Goals (Both Financially and Personally)?

By: Jaymon Meikle

When you sit down to set your goals, do you also set your fears?

Recently, I had the privilege to participate in a workshop with other financial advisors to help us improve in our respective roles.

The workshop was hosted by the Financial Planner Association and led by a fellow advisor named Matthew Jarvis, who is someone that I have looked up to for several years.

In the workshop, Matthew brought up one of the tools that he uses with his team – fear setting.

Fear setting is an exercise that Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4 Hour Work Week, talks about in a TED Talk. I was incredibly Intrigued about this idea and wondered what could be so important – so, I watched the talk that night when I got home. It’s made a huge impact on me and the way I think about the future.

To summarize the talk – even though I highly encourage everyone to watch the whole thing – Tim describes the process he uses every quarter to define his fears.

Step One

Write down the fear. Then, write down what’s the worst thing that could happen if those fears came true. Rank those fears on a scale of 1-10.

Step Two

List the ways that those fears could be mitigated and what it would take to repair things if the worst happened.

Step Three

Think about what the benefits would be if you made an attempt or had partial success with what your fear is keeping you from doing. These are going to be the list of positive outcomes of moving past your fear. Rank outcomes 1-10.

Step Four

List out how things would be if no action was taken. What would your life look like if the fear won out and you did nothing? Describe each of these time horizons in detail: six months, one year and three years.

This exercise is simple in concept but can be difficult to do. It takes a lot of self-awareness and honesty with yourself, and you must allow yourself to take a hard look at the fears that have kept you from taking that next step in life.

Tim uses a quote in his presentation from Seneca, a Roman philosopher:

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

This exercise does an excellent job of showing us what reality could be if we can move past the fears of our own imagination. Going through this exercise myself led to some very interesting conversations with my wife about our future and what was most important to us.

I had never realized how much I let my own fears dictate my behavior. Looking back, this has led to some missed opportunities.

It’s easy to find resources and reasons for goal setting, which I am a huge proponent for – but I now believe that fear setting is equally, if not more, important than goal setting.

Setting realistic and attainable goals can be quite the task, which when done properly takes a lot of pondering of values and what you really want to achieve in the time we have on this earth. But even the most profound and defined goals can be de-railed if fear stands in the way. Use this tool to move past fear and your own obstacles.

Tim admits that this exercise is not a cure-all, some fears are appropriate and no amount of processing will help – but it’s definitely worth trying.

Now, it’s your turn.

What fears are in your path? What haven’t you done because fear has stopped you?

Give us a call and we can help you navigate whatever financial fears stand in the way between you and your goals. Let’s put a plan together today.

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