How often do you say or think to yourself “what if?” What if I had done this or that? Married someone else? Went to that other school? Took that different job? Or the common one, what if I had not spoken in anger? Chosen other words to say? Behaved differently? We could spend a lot of time in this never-ending loop of the other path our life could have taken, if only.
I have always been a “what if” person. The past few days have taught me, I still am.
This week I went back to work. Back to an environment that has created a lot of anxiety for me, which surprises me. It has affected my sleep; (right now I should be sleeping -night shifter here), my ability to focus and these questions of what if seem to be on a continuous loop. Since my mind will not let me rest today, I thought I might as well get up and write them out.
My workplace is where many of the “what if’s” exist for me. It’s a place I have worked off and on for over twenty years. Where I have met a lot of people who were (and some that still are) significant in my life. Many that are in the past. They are the road not taken. This is also where my ex-fiance works. Being in a place where I do not communicate with these folks anymore, I guess I can’t help but ask myself “what if”. What if I had not canceled the engagement? What if I had never agreed to it in the first place? What if I had never met him, or some of the others that have greatly affected me? If only I had taken an entirely different career path many years ago, what would I be doing now?
I was told not that long ago that I spend too much time in the past. That I do not seem to look at what I can do, instead I focus on what I didn’t do or what I wished I had done. The things I can no longer do anything about. I was kind of offended when I was told this. I never really thought of myself as a backward-facing person.
I have very good friends. Many would probably tell me the same thing, this friend just has no filter and doesn’t care too much about hurting my feelings. This can sting at times, but I appreciate the honesty. And some of my closest friends don’t understand this piece of my personality as they are nothing like this.
Last night I was thinking about the what if’s of my most recent relationship. The what if’s about someone I loved very deeply but that wasn’t the right fit for me. The what if of who is he. If only’s. I was very distressed with all of this. And yet even in the midst of all these thoughts, I was also thinking about how much I enjoy my present state. I love my life these days. I truly do not want to think about the past anymore.
So today what has woken me up, is that I can not help but think…WHAT IF WE CHANGED the FOCUS of the IF? What if we changed the narrative we tell ourselves?
If we started to focus on failing forward. If we took this phrase and applied it to finding new paths. Instead of it being something that we often see as negative, we turned it into a positive. Into a phrase, we use to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Into trying new things. To meet new people. To reach new goals.
When seeing this through a positive, forward-thinking lense, it looks like this, it asks these types of questions:
- What if I learn this new skill, how will that help my current job role?
- What if I try out that new workout, how will that impact my exercise goals?
- What if I apply for that other job that I am interested in? What does it look like if I get an interview and they decide to hire me?
- What if I have that scary, honest conversation with my spouse that I have been avoiding?
- What if I take that trip that I have been looking into for years?
- What if I write my thoughts down and start a blog?
- What if I move? Try out a new place to live?
- What if I start a business? Write a book? Launch a website?
- What if I volunteer? Get a pet? Try out for a play?
WHAT IF _______________________________________________________________________
Fill in the blank after the question with any positive change that you really want to pursue. DO NOT look to the past, at the things you can no longer do…but look to the things you wish you were doing NOW. The things you want to try but are afraid to.
This notion of using the what if’s in a positive way can create a paradigm shift in our lives. To creating new paths that may be more peaceful and more aligned with who we are. It creates this notion, a correct notion, that we can change our current circumstances if we choose.
I have always wanted a career doing something that I feel has a purpose. Has some meaning beyond making a paycheck. At this present moment in my life, this is raising my children. Creating successful adults to send out into this world to pursue their goals and dreams. This is most likely my greatest purpose.
But in the midst of raising children and needing a steady income, there are many other things I can pursue now that will fulfill me too. My own “what if’s that I can turn into a positive, forward-thinking view. That I can use to create new paths in my life. The question I can ask can be “what if I try this or that…what joy can come with pursuing that? Trying new things might be scary, but if I magnify the possibilities instead of the risks, so many wonderful things may happen.
Instead of looking back at an ending, I can see the beginning…but I have to turn around…face the right direction.
What are your what if’s that you would pursue? How can you turn these into tangible possibilities? What does your life look like when you fill in the blank?
I think I’ll go try to catch some more sleep now…dream about all the possibilities rather than the past if only’s…