We spend 95% of our time doing stuff. Even when we think we are thinking about stuff we are actually thinking about doing stuff…and this is not really thinking, this is planning…there is a difference.
With that in mind, take a minute and just think…”What if…”
- you caught what you were chasing?
- money no longer mattered?
- no one was actually “holding you back”?
- the people you thought were against actually didn’t even think about you that much?
- the giants were actually windmills?
- you decided to not let “it” get to you?
- your boss wasn’t really a jerk but you were?
- it’s your issue and not _____ (insert name here)
- your kids acted just like you?
- you decided not to argue with ________ (insert name here)
- the power to make the changes you desired were inside you…and you still didn’t make them?
- it all depended on you?
- _______ (insert name here) died unexpectedly and you had not made the time to call or stop by?
- retirement sucks?
- they took it all away and you were still happy?
- you never started that project you always wanted to do but never found the time?
- you started being the person you thought you would be once you “made it”?
- you acted “as if” _________ (fill in the blank)
- no matter what _______ (insert name here) said or did to you, you displayed grace and forgiveness?
- there is no tomorrow? (I bet you know what movie clip will play if you click on the link)
I know that it is easy to write this down and extremely hard to incorporate into your life. I know because I struggle with it every day just like you. That is also why I have a hard time with “self-help” books and gurus who tell you all you need to do is follow their 10 step plan and you too achieve everything you ever wanted.
There is a huge chasm between thinking and doing and sometimes that distance looks so vast we are able to console ourselves because “we would never make it” and just continuing to do as we had always done is “safer”. We are also correct that it is safer and much, much easier to stay continue to act as we have always acted and not entertain “What if…?”
Several months ago I was having coffee with good friend and he was telling me about some challenges he was having. Now this conversation had been the same one…more or less… for the past 6-7 months. He is a very bright guy and was always talking about strategy and planning and would say things like…”once this happens…” or “as soon as I…” then I can get things going. I just nodded my head and stroked my beard as he continued to talked (my own way of focusing my attention on the other person). At one point, he stopped and I just continued to think about all he has said without saying anything. He looked at my for a minute and then asked me what I thought. I then posed the following question to him – “What if you started doing stuff instead of talking about stuff? He just stared at me for a few minutes as he thought about the question. Finally, he said – “I guess stuff would get done and I would actually see some results.” At that point there was no much more to talk about.
(Read what Seth Godin has to say about this idea here…)
Here is all I can offer. The next time you are in a situation and falling into your normal behavior/response/activity do the following:
- Stop and think “What if I…kept my mouth shut/spoke up/was nice/walked away/helped out/didn’t gripe about it/made that phone call/expressed gratitude/committed to ______ (insert your own answer here)
- Immediately reach out to someone close to you and share the experience with them and tell them what new action you are going to take and ask them to hold you accountable
- Do it
- Enjoy the feeling of being the person other people think about being…
Final thought: What is Hale, Gandhi, and Fuller were right?
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ― Edward Everett Hale
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person. ” ― R. Buckminster Fuller