by Bryan Golden
Life is filled with ifs. The ever constant dilemma is, “If I do this, what will happen?” People also lament about the past with thoughts of “If I had only done things differently.” Then there is worry about the future with “What will I do if that happens?”
You can’t go forward in life when you are caught up in the past. Although you can learn from the past, you can’t change it. Getting caught up in thoughts of “if only I had done such and such then things would have been different,” is a total waste of time.
Learn the lessons your past has to teach, then focus on the ifs of the present. Rather than becoming stressed when faced with many ifs, be thankful you live in a country that provides the freedom to have so many choices.
Ifs serve a valuable role by enabling you to evaluate various options. One pitfall is inaction as a result of becoming overwhelmed by all of the choices. Doing nothing is at times a valid option, but only when it is intentional, not as a result of indecision.
Make the best decision you can and move forward. Don’t become immobilized due to paralysis by analysis. Often, a person is afraid to make a decision because they can’t guarantee the outcome. Some people even project negative scenarios for every if they are considering.
“What if f I change jobs and then I’m unhappy?” “What if I go out on a date and then the other person rejects me?” “What if I paint my living room and then don’t like the color?” “What if I get my car fixed and then it breaks down again?”
A person who always assumes a negative outcome for each option most likely doesn’t make any decisions at all. Or when they do, they subconsciously program their mind to produce, or attract, the very outcome they feared.
Why not anticipate a positive outcome? It takes no more effort, yet conditions your mind to produce or attract good things. You don’t have to be afraid. Make your best pick based on all the information you have at the time. The negative ifs listed above could be altered to provide a better chance of success.
“What if I change jobs and then I’m really pleased with my new position.” “What if I go on a date and then we get along great?” “What if I paint my living room and then love the new look?” “What if I get my car fixed and then it serves me reliably for many more miles?”
So what if things don’t turn out the way you had hoped? Then you come up with some more choices and change what you don’t like. Don’t be hard on yourself. No one gets it right every time. All you can do is consider all of the options and then make an intelligent, informed decision.
Just as it’s pointless to bemoan the past, it is also a waste of energy to fret about the future. When you become engrossed with the ifs of tomorrow, you take your attention away from the ifs of today.
The best way to plan for your future is to pay attention to the ifs of the present. The person who worries about what happens if they are not happy tomorrow, isn’t going to be happy today. A better approach is to concentrate on completing the following: “If I’m going to be happy now, then I have to do ______ today.”
Life doesn’t stand still and neither should you. Welcome the ifs as an opportunity to live the way you want to.
NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2006 Bryan Golden