Do you sometimes play the “What if…” game? (Also known as “If only…”)
What if you’d taken a different career path. What if you had a different life partner. What if you’d learned to play golf. If only you’d made a different choice about…whatever.
I play that game—most of us do—and it used to be a grim exercise. Because it’s easy for our brains to see only the bright future we might have had—and conversely, only the rut we’ve landed in from not having made a different choice. It was enough to make me slump my shoulders and wring my hands.
Lately, though, instead of feeling down in the dumps about my what ifs, they energize me. What changed? I took them out of past tense and put them squarely in present tense. My “What if I had” thoughts have evolved into “What if, right now, I…”
Let me give you an example.
I accompanied a friend to a fabric store a couple of years ago, and I was wowed by the creativity and possibility I saw down every aisle. This looked like fun. Darn! “What if I’d paid attention when my mom tried to teach me how to sew?” Finally a better question popped into my brain: “What if I learn how to sew, right now?” I joined an ongoing sewing class, and now I’m having every inch of the fun I envisioned that day in the store.
Second example…Microphones used to give me a severe case of nerves and a seriously squeaky voice. I stopped lamenting that sorry situation and decided to focus on, “What if I just learn this skill that doesn’t seem to come naturally?” I got some training, practiced, (realized I wasn’t going to die of fright) and…now I host a four-hour weekly classical music program on our community station. And people tell me I’m a natural. Little do they know….
Many people come to coaching because they want to make that shift—from lamenting past decisions and actions (or non-actions) to making (and following through on) decisions they can make today.
My present “What if” is “What if I’d jumped on the social media bandwagon five years ago? Wow, I’d be an expert today! Too bad I didn’t do that.” Then I ask myself the better question, “What if I jump on that bandwagon today?” With a little effort, it won’t be long before social media marketing is one of my strengths instead of one of my dreaded tasks. I’ve hired a social media coach, and I’m on it!
What’s your “What if?” I would love to hear from you.
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