I didn’t realise that Tim Ferriss, writer of the ‘4-Hour Workweek’, had contemplated suicide when he was 19 years old, or that he suffered from bouts of depression. I have a lot of respect for Tim and his book that, in a way, focuses on making life more simple and encouraging people to consider a different type of working lifestyle. One that doesn’t involve spending most of your week at the office.
In this Ted Talk, Tim speaks about a written exercise called ‘Fear Setting’ and analysing the worst case scenarios for things you are worried about doing. By looking at the potential things that could go wrong, you can consider what can be done to prevent or repair these problems.
By writing this out, you can get a more realistic overview of how obvious pitfalls can be avoided or that the worst case scenario may not be as bad as you think. The exercise also includes looking at the benefits of partial success and the cost of taking no action at all further down the line. This process helped him to take a life-changing trip and later write the 4 Hour Work Week book.
There are three parts to the exercise, which should be written out and are described in detail in the video:
1. What if I…?
- Define what you fear and what could go wrong
e.g. go on holiday and miss a tax letter
- Prevent – how can you prevent or decrease the likelihood of this?
e.g. change the address at the tax office, so letters go directly to your accountant
- Repair – if the worst case scenario happened, how could you undo the damage?
e.g. speak to a friend who is a lawyer about how to resolve the situation
2. What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?
3. The cost of inaction – emotionally, physically, financially, etc.
- After 6 months
- After 12 months
- After 3 years
In this way, you are having to think about not only the negative outcomes and how to avoid them, but also the potential short-term and long-term benefits. Tim also mentions stoic philosophy, and how sometimes difficult decisions and conversations need to take place to progress in life.
The Ted Talk video can be seen here:
If you want to find out more about the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ book, you can click on this link.