Making ‘What If…” Work for You

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

-Mark Twain

Ever have an idea that lit you on fire, had you up at night taking notes, energized you, filled you with desire or made you want to share it with others? With notes in hand you begin a plan and suddenly it seems more complex and you need to know more before you start. As time goes on, your passion dwindles and your inspiration becomes more of a goal than a desire. You start asking yourself if you can and should do this.

So why is it so hard to get started? For me, it’s especially big projects that I struggle to start, like writing a book. It’s a huge undertaking  and investment of hundreds if not thousands of hours. What if I get partially through and realize this idea is crap? What if I never finish? What if it doesn’t serve anyone?

What if… the big starting delay.

What if = fear

A wise woman once told me this about what ifs, “You have 2 choices, follow it all the way down or ask yourself what if the opposite is true.”

Follow it all the way down.

  • What if I write that book and realize that idea is crap? Then I will have to start something else.
  • What if you have to start something else? Then I’ll have to do some soul-searching on where I am and what I need to do.
  • What if you have to do some soul searching? Then I won’t feel productive.
  • What if you don’t feel productive? I’ll feel useless and question my worth to my family and community.

See the truth is I am putting all my worth on what I produce. If we follow the what if down enough, I’ll see that what I really need to do is address my truth about whether my production is my only worth. This exercise allows us to see our underlying fears, look at them and decide if there’s truth to them or just some old message.

What if the opposite is true?

When I was introduced to this exercise, I was not a fan. Playing devil’s advocate to the shadow part of ourselves never is easy. The shadow doesn’t want to be seen. You see taking the opposite would stop each step in it’s tracks, but let’s imagine we had each question individually.

  • What if I write the book and it’s absolutely awesome?
  • What if I finish early?
  • What if it serves millions?

The answers to all of these also have some fear behind them but in an exciting, passionate way. It’s scary to be seen, to challenge myself to finish by a deadline or have the confidence to lead. It would also be out of this freaking world to accomplish those things, at least for me. The difference is the focus is put on the positive, not the negative.

Fear is in us to keep us safe which we need. It can also be overused and keep us small.

Feel the fear and then do that big, fabulous dream anyway. You were called to dream it which means you are already qualified.  All you have to do is start.

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