“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart
In a recent article by Tim Ferriss taken from his book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, he shared that most people would choose unhappiness over uncertainty and failure no matter how brave they consider themselves to be.
Even Ferriss himself admitted that he spent years being held back by his fears and insecurities until sometime in 2004, while trying to convince himself to take a sabbatical year, he stumbled upon a very simple solution – defining his worse fears and worse-case scenarios then finding workable solutions around it.
In doing so, not only did he realise that his worse nightmare, at most, will have a temporary impact on his life but not to the extent that it is life and death. In fact, it turned out quite the opposite. Not only did he manage to that that 15-month sabbatical that he was so hesitant to take but his business flourished while he was away.
Drawing from his personal experience, Tim shares 7 questions we can ask ourselves when faced with a major or life-changing decision to help us push past our biggest fears and take that plunge!
If you telescope out 10 years and know with 100 percent certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,” inaction is the greatest risk of all.
- Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering.
- Write down what doubts, fears, and “what-ifs” that pops up as you consider the big changes you are planning to make. Visualise them in detail. Would it end your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1 to 10? Is it really permanent?
- What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily?
- Chances are, it’s easier than you imagine. How could you get things back under control?
- What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent, of more probable scenarios?
- Now that you have defined your nightmare, what are the more probable or definite positive outcomes, whether internal or external? How likely is it that you could produce at least a moderately good outcome? Have other people done this before and pulled it off?
- If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to get things under financial control?
- Imagine this scenario and run through questions 1 to 3 above. If you quit your job to test other options, how could you later get back on the same career track if you absolutely had to?
- What are you putting off out of fear?
- Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, that conversation, whatever the action might be — it is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it and do it. As Tim Ferriss says, “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
- What is it costing you – financially, emotionally, and physically – to postpone action? Don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action?
- It is important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction. If you don’t pursue those things that excite you, where will you be in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years? How will you feel having allowed circumstance to impose itself upon you and having allowed 10 more years of your finite life to pass doing what you know will not fulfill you?
- What are you waiting for?
- If you cannot answer this without resorting to the BS answer of “good timing,” the answer is simple: You’re afraid, just like the rest of the world.
Measure the cost of inaction, realize the unlikelihood and repairability of most missteps, and develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: action.