Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"What if" you didn't say 'what if'?

One of the most annoying things I sometimes find myself doing is what I call the "what if" mentality. You've been there... You have a situation occur, you take time to make a decision. Even as you make the decision, you're still up in the air, you decide and then you spend at least two weeks going over in your mind all the "what ifs."

What if I'd done this?
What if I'd not done that?
What if I waited?
Would it have turned down differently if...

Oy vey! The list could go on forever.

The "what if" mentality will drive you crazy if you let it. I'm learning how to let go of the "what ifs" and say "Woulda/shoulda/coulda", so what? What's done is done. Now what?

I love John Maxwell because he says there's a difference between problem spotting and problem solving. When you're stuck in the "what if" mentality, you're problem spotting, i.e. you're identifying all the things that are wrong and you're not looking for any of the opportunities that exist right now (let alone actively pursuing them). Problem solving is where you take ownership and responsibility but you do not judge or blame yourself. You say, "Ok, I made a decision, didn't come out quite like I wanted. What's my next move?"

It isn't always easy to make that transition but I have a "what if" catcher in my mind. Anytime I start to drift to past experiences or present circumstances and start to think things like "I should've done this or that", I stop myself and say "But what am I going to do now to get to where I want to go?" and no matter how much my mind wants to return to the blame/shame/guilt game of "what if", I keep coming back to the same question, "Now what?'

If you stay with the "Now what?" and leave the "what if" behind, you'll find that you're much more positive, much more productive, and, before long, you're out of whatever situation you got yourself into.

Cut out the "what if" mentality. The question doesn't serve and there never is an answer to what could've been. Either way, it's not what happened and you'll never get a chance to live that exact moment again.

1 comment:

  1. I also love John Maxwell. I've read most of what he's written over the years.

    I also am really big choices. Each day we get to make a ton of choices. Not every choice will work out as we had hoped. CHOOSE AGAIN. Instead of playing that "what if" game, instead let yourself know you can always choose again.

    Every choice we make has consequences. Some consequences we smile and say "awesome choice", other consequences we hold our nose and say "yuck" When that happens make a new choice :)

    (I found your blog through your signature over on ivillage)