Don't WHAT-IF Yourself to Death

If you are the kind of person who has goals, ambitions, dreams and big ideas for your life, then you know that taking risks is an essential component of success. Lou Buscaglia said, “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”


Risk is a natural part of life and the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. I don’t think many people would argue with this point.


Here is the dilemma. When it comes to risk, many people tend to “what if” themselves out of any and every positive idea that might move them in the direction of their goals. What I mean by “what if” themselves is that they imagine all kinds of disaster scenarios that may or may not occur should they take what appears to be a risky action.


Here is a prime example:



Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Systematic Lupus and had to leave my corporate career position with one of the largest healthcare providers in Chicago.  For months, I wasn’t able to get out of the bed or take care of myself solo. It was if all my independence, dreams, goals, etc. had disappeared into thin air.  I definitely had no thoughts that I could ever have my dream business. All my thoughts were, “what if I don’t ever get better,” “what if this disease takes over my body to the point where I’m never the same?” “what if it’s too much for my family to deal with?” “what if our lifestyle changes so horribly because we’ve lost a significant amount of our income?”  


What if, what if, what if…I was definitely what iffing (yes, I know that’s not a word) myself to death.  I finally had to accept that this was a part of me and that I had Lupus but Lupus didn’t have to have me. After finally accepting this, it became clear that I didn’t want to choose between my career and my health and started to ask, “what if I took all my corporate experience, skills, education, and talents and created a business that would allow me to take care of myself and still create a life I wanted?”  I had a number of supportive friends and family and some who were not so supportive of my decision. But even the supportive people would talk to me about my big decision and look at me as the “lucky one.” They admired my bold move but in the same breath would talk about how they wish they could do the same.


When I told them that there was nothing stopping them from doing exactly what I was doing, they quickly responded with their “what if” disaster scenarios…

What if I don’t earn enough money to pay my bills?” “What if I have medical expenses and can’t afford to pay them?” “What if I make the wrong decision and open the wrong kind of business?” “What if I have to work on weekends?”

Now I agree that these are all valid concerns given the conversation involved walking away from a good paying job, whether by choice or in my case by force, but the damage being done by imagining these things is where the real problem lies.


Not one of those “what if” statements assumed a positive outcome. Not one of those statements talked about all of the good that might happen in the person’s life if they were to walk away from a job they didn’t like in order to pursue a dream business.


While none of these negative scenarios had taken place yet, their mind convinced them that it was inevitable. The only difference between their mindset and my own, was that I was using my imagination to think of all the positive potential outcomes of pursuing a business and not having to choose between my health and my career. I was thinking ONLY of the positive outcomes. I was trusting the process. I was trusting God.


They had the ability to trust as well. In fact they were already doing it but simply didn’t realize it. Every person does this every day.


There is inherent risk with every single action you take in your life. Every time you get into the car, there is the risk of getting into an accident. When you go for a walk there is a risk of being mugged. When you go to a restaurant there is a risk of choking or food poisoning. When you take a shower, there is a risk of falling and hitting your head. The list is infinite!


The reason that most people don’t worry about these things is that we have come to trust that we are generally going to be safe throughout the course of our day. Unless something traumatic has happened, you probably don’t ever think about these kind of disaster scenarios.


Well the exact same kind of thinking is REQUIRED by the person who wants to pursue a big life goal and take action on the risky steps required to reach that goal. Could you lose money? Yes! Could you go bankrupt? Yes! Could you fall and break your leg? Yes! Welcome to life.


If you are ready, willing and COMMITTED to achieving great things for your life, then you need to change your “what if” questions from negative to positive?

What if I make it? What if I become wealthy? What if I save a life? What if I become free? What if I overcome my fears? What if I live my life to the fullest?


Use your imagination to picture your life from that perspective and boldly walk in the direction of your dream!


Go for it! If you'd like some support click here to check out our Mind Your Business Bootcamp for the Basics to help get started.

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