Do you ever play the “what if…” game? You know the one: What if I do this…but then that happens? What if I do this other thing instead?
More than two decades ago, I decided to forego the doctorate in English and quit my dream job in academics to embrace an entrepreneurial (but largely uncertain) future.
There were lot of “what ifs” that played out in my head.
- What if we don’t get any clients?
- What if we go out of business?
- What if we fail?
- What if all our friends laugh at us?
And of course, those “what ifs” were negatives…because usually when I find myself playing “what if,” I tend to focus on a potentially negative outcome.
Why is it so easy to let my imagination run wild in the direction of catastrophe?
- What if I spend $100 on this makeup, but I end up not liking it?
- What if I try to make a challenging quilt, and I end up ruining a bunch of fabric?
- What if we go on vacation, but we get hopelessly lost at some point along the way?
I can drive myself crazy (along with the rest of the people living in the house LOL!).
But consider this: while the answer to the unasked question is always “no” what is the answer to the “what if” question?
The answer to “what if” questions are usually far more open ended, and —-by their very nature — potentially more positive.
I started thinking about “what if” questions like the fulcrum on a teeter totter.
What if for every potentially negative outcome I can imagine (teeter totter goes down), I also make a point of considering a potentially positive result (teeter totter goes up)?
- What if I start a really challenging quilt, and it turns out to be stunning?
- What if we go on vacation and have an absolutely wonderful time?
- What if I buy the makeup and really love it … and it looks great on me?
Certainly I’m not assured of a positive outcome just because I hope it comes true (if I were, I’d start buying lottery tickets!), but by the same token there’s no guarantee of a negative outcome either.
So the next time you find yourself with a “what if” negative, jump on the teeter totter and think of a positive “what it” to match it.
What if it’s worth a shot?