The Startling Power of ‘What If’
What if the things you have always believed aren’t true? What if it’s within your power to do and believe new things? This is your introduction to the startling power of ‘what if’.
I know how strongly we hold our beliefs. I’m not necessarily talking about limiting beliefs, I’m speaking in more broad terms. We are a nation that questions a lot of things but what we believe, we REALLY believe. And to our credit, it’s hard for us to shake off things that we believe in strongly.
There are certain things that I believe that you can’t shake me from. Period. Ever. For example, I believe that all people are created equal, and I believe that education is magical.
For the most part our strong beliefs are good things, they guide our actions and they help us experience life in a way we choose.
All beliefs are not equal
However, what if your strong beliefs aren’t positive? I’ve been hearing from a lot of my coaching clients about their beliefs and many of these beliefs seem unshakeable. The challenge comes when the belief is something that makes them feel bad. Or something that holds them back when they are ready to move forward.
A few of the negative beliefs sound like this:
- I could never do that
- I just can’t get over this
- I should just be content with my life the way it is and stop dreaming of more
Do any if these beliefs sound familiar? Just for today, let’s dream. What if you were able to believe something different? How different would you be as a result of the new belief? Would you like yourself better? Would you be able to help more people and increase your impact and influence on the world around you?
I don’t know what belief is currently weighing you down, but in this ‘what if ‘ game, let’s look at 2 new beliefs you can try on for size.
What if today you believe you are allowed to want more?
Marian spent years wishing she could move to Costa Rica. She’d been an exchange student and fell in love with the country. She returned home at the end of the semester, finished her degree, got married shortly after that, and moved on with her life.
Fast-forward a number of years and Marian is now divorced and mentions moving to Costa Rica pretty frequently. She has never actually pursued the idea but she talks about it more than she realizes. One day a friend tells her ‘you’re allowed to want more from your life’. Further her friend asked, ‘why would you wait until you retire to move ? You have this moment today and if Costa Rica would make you happy, then go now!’
That simple statement made Marian realize that she was limiting her life with the belief that she should be grateful for what she had. And that joy is something to be postponed for a future date.You don't have to feel guilty for wanting something more. You have that desire for a reason. You can be grateful for what you have and still want more.
Don’t misunderstand me, I talk about the power of gratitude all the time and I believe it’s essential to be sincerely grateful for what we have. But gratitude doesn’t need to prevent you from moving toward something more.
I see this a lot with clients and friends who have built careers that don’t feel like they fit anymore. Maybe they realized that they built their career based on someone else’s desires. They are very successful, make great money and overall feel good about their future. And with all the people who are unemployed or underemployed they think that’s it greedy or selfish or even rude to want something more when they already have so much.
Why? Everybody has different journeys and different dreams. Could you tell me how you settling for something you don’t really want helps other people? Oh, it doesn’t. Cool. So why do you want to keep doing that?
What if you stepping into the new thing that keeps whispering to you would help a bunch of people who are waiting for the opportunities that you would create?What if you stepping into the new thing that keeps whispering to you would help a bunch of people who are waiting for the opportunities that you would create?
Let yourself want more
It can be hard to make the shift to doing a new thing because once you make that small decision in your mind, you can’t un-make it. Just like you can’t un-kiss someone, kissing them changes the relationship forever. To put it another way, if you decide that you want to look for a new job and you ACT on that desire, in any way, from that moment forward your current job looks different.
Even if you don’t end up changing positions, your perspective on your current job has shifted because you opened yourself up to the possibilities of what another job might look like. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s natural. But we fear looking at a new thing because we’re not sure how we will feel about what we have. Did you follow that? We’re afraid to look at something more because then we might be dissatisfied with what we have.
Making changes, thinking new thoughts, and believing new things can be scary, because you can’t take the ‘possibility’ energy back. But, what if you turn toward more and listen to your inner voice? It’s only talking to you, just like my inner voice only talks to me. If you let your passion and energy guide you, what delightful things might happen? You probably can’t imagine.
Take the first step
It can also be hard to start thinking about something more if you don’t believe you can have it. It’s a lot easier to focus all your energy on being happy with what you have.
But what if you freely admit that you want something more and start looking for a way to actually get it?
Following up on our story with Marian, when her friend suggested that she could move to Costa Rica now, she started thinking about her move. It had always seemed impossible but with the encouragement and support of her friend, she started planning for this new phase of her life.
Her first step was to research what paperwork she needed, would she need to become a citizen or was there some sort of long-term visa she could get, etc. The information she found helped her realize that getting a job in Costa Rica was the fastest way to clear the path to building a new life there. Once Marian did one thing, she could easily see the steps she would need to take to make her goal happen.
What if you decided to start working towards your more? Depending on what you want, your first step doesn’t have to be huge and your goal doesn’t have to be living in a different country. Whatever you want, there is a step-by-step path to get there.
Keep in mind that you may not know all of the steps yet. Don’t freak out if that is true for you. Just put a question mark in your plan if you’re not sure what comes next. You’ll figure it out or you’ll find someone who can help.
If you don’t know all the answers now, you can start with some research and begin building your plan with the information you do have. You don’t have to ‘burn the boats’ and make a huge gesture, unless you really want to. Getting started is better than dreaming about it for years or continuing to ignore yourself.
Talk about your more with others
The next thing Marian did was join a Facebook group for Americans who live in other countries. She posted in the group, introducing herself and her dream of living in Costa Rica. She was thrilled when several other people who’d moved to Costa Rica reached out to her and offered valuable advice on the steps to take.When you hang out with people who are pursuing their dreams, their enthusiasm and energy can rub off on you.
When you hang out with people who are pursuing their dreams, their enthusiasm and energy rubs off on you. Even better, you have access to mentors and guides who can help you achieve your dream.
Don’t put off pursuing your something more for another moment. Do something small that will help you get closer to your dream. Then tomorrow, wake up and do another small thing. Pretty soon, you’ll discover you’ve achieved your dream because you kept moving forward.
What if today you believe you are confident?
Amaris often talked about the things she would do if she were more confident. She would say, “If I were more confident, I’d learn salsa dancing. If I felt good about myself, I’d wear shorts this summer. If I were smarter, I’d go back to school and get a graduate degree.”
One day as she was complaining about all of the things she was not, her coach stopped her by asking, “What if you were? What if you were confident? What if you felt good about yourself? What if you felt smart?”Maybe what’s holding you back isn’t what you are, only what you think you are not.
“Maybe,” Amaris’ coach suggested, “What’s holding you back isn’t what you are, only what you think you are not.”
How a lack of confidence robs us
Often we let a lack of self-confidence hold us back from pursuing our goals, building greater relationships, and loving ourselves unconditionally. But what if you flipped the script? What if you stopped waiting for confidence and started behaving as if you already have it?
It’s easy to create limiting beliefs, most women do it every day without realizing it. These are the stories you tell yourself about why you’re settling for less than what you want and less than what you’re capable of. Some of the stories might sound good or even noble, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re not true.
The key to being more confident
The key to becoming more confident is to challenge the stories you’re telling yourself. Is it really true you can’t be a sexy beast if you have three kids and a mortgage? No. Is it really true that it’s too late to get a graduate degree if you want one? No!
When you are honest with yourself, you’ll have to admit that these stories aren’t the real problem. They’re masking a deeper issue like fear, low self-esteem, or judgment . Confronting the real issue will make it easier for you to step into newfound confidence.
Punch fear in the throat and do something bold
Sometimes, the best way to overcome fear and increase your confidence is to do something bold. And the key is to do it before you feel confident. Do it before you feel certain of the result. Do it before you feel like you’re ready.
When you challenge yourself to do things before you feel prepared, you increase your confidence by handling the unknown. You grow in exciting ways and you discover skills and talents that you didn’t know you had.
What if you make a list AND take action?
What if you create a list of things you’ve been telling yourself you’ll do when you’re “ready”. For example, maybe you keep saying you’ll go on a cruise as soon as you lose those last twenty pounds. Except you’ve been “losing” those pesky pounds for five years. No judgment, 20 pounds is just a continuing obstacle to going on the cruise because you believe it’s an obstacle.
Each New Year’s, you promise yourself you’ll take some training courses so you can get out of the job you hate and start doing work that matters to you. But you haven’t made the time to seek any training or find out where the training you desire is offered.
Once you have your list, don’t file it away! Pick one thing on it and take action right now. Like today. As soon as you stop reading this, call a travel agent and get information on upcoming cruises. Talk to a friend who has leveled up her skills in a way you’d like to improve yourself and find out what training she took.
What if you believe you that you are bold and confident?
Stop waiting for confidence and embrace it today.
The power of What If can change your life and the lives of those around you. If you believe it’s ok to want more and you act with confidence you will amaze yourself with your results. And you will have the energy to do the things that really matter to you.