Understanding Our Fear of Taking the Leap
Cockroaches. They’re the ugliest, most disgusting-looking critters, and the thought of one pattering unannounced across a dinner table or flying over my head would send me- like many of you- into a tizzy.
One day, I pondered why cockroaches invoke such fear in most of us…save for the few intrepid souls and those who eat them as a cultural norm. When we scream and squirm, when our hearts jump to our throats, what do we think they can actually do to us?
Introducing: irrational fear.
As unsightly as they are, cockroaches cannot kill you. Cockroaches do not spew poisonous venom when apprehended or gnaw through human flesh and bone for nourishment. Yet, we let our fear get the very best of our worst imaginations…
…much like the thought of taking steps to the life we really want.
I’ve come across many people who want to drop their job and travel the world, or switch to a career that brings them fulfillment. When I personally felt the “tug” to finally move to London- my dream city- knowing I didn’t have it all figured out, I too became afraid of the thought of taking the leap.
But? How? I don’t have… What if…?
In my irrational train of thought, I equated my fear of failure to fear of death, as if taking a chance to live my dreams could somehow lead to my funeral if it didn’t work. Thank God for Tim Ferriss, as I learned that if it’s too much to face your fears, you could at least begin understanding them for what they are.
Below is a “Question and Actions” exercise featured in Tim’s monstrously successful book The 4-Hour Work Week, and it greatly transformed my “dreaming fears” and gave me renewed courage to move forward. If you’re stuck or deathly afraid on navigating toward your dream life, this questionnaire will help you tremendously.
Got a pen or a Word document open? Answer Tim’s following questions:
- Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What doubt, fears, and “what-ifs” pop up as you consider the big changes you can—or need—to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1–10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?
- 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?