TED Talk: Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals


Is fear stopping you from taking action? In this TED Talk, best-selling author Tim Ferriss explains that this can be resolved with an activity he calls “fear-setting.” In fact, he argues that defining your fears may be more important than defining your goals.

What You’ll Learn

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Define stoicism in the context of leadership principles
  • Recall why stoicism is a superpower in high stress environments
  • Know the purpose of and how to perform the 3-part fear-setting exercise

Watch the Video

Dig Deeper

After watching the video, reflect on the following questions. Jot down your thoughts. Consider sharing this video with a colleague or a work group for an insightful discussion.

  1. In your own words, define stoicism. How does stoicism help one thrive in high stress environments?
  2. Name one leader you know who exemplifies stoicism. How does he/she demonstrate this quality?
  3. How well do you exemplify stoicism? How can you improve this trait?
  4. Apply the 3-part fear-setting exercise to a fear in your own life. Reflect on the results.

Write a Review

  1. Being someone who tends to think in ‘worst case scenarios’ most of the time, this exercise feels very important in helping me go from fear to reality. Voicing the fear and thinking through the process might help me get it out of my way as I work toward a goal I have in mind.


  2. Stoicism is a way of thriving in a stress environment. Logically define your fears, methods to prevent the worst from happing, and interventions to repair the damage if it really does happen. I usually do this internally and automatically. Great leaders, such as leaders of nations or organizations, exemplify these traits.


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