The Pitfalls of “What if…?”

by | Mar 23, 2020 | VO Business

My middle daughter is on the front lines of COVID-19 right now.  She’s a Physician Assistant serving in an Infectious Diseases (ID) clinic.

To say each day at work for her is a panic, is an understatement.  I can hear it in her voice.

Like most of the rest of you, we’re trying to stay in touch with our loved ones more than ever.  Lord help us if the phone systems or the Internet gets hacked and goes down, right?

The history books will explain the difference of life “before COVID-19” and the world “after COVID-19″…so we are living through profoundly extraordinary times.

Are you and yours having any trouble making plans?

Short-term…long-term, ‘doesn’t matter…there’s almost no certainty in the exercise. Things are changing too fast.  What seemed like a fact you can count on today, changes tomorrow.  Being agile and adjustable is not the issue.  Having no expectations at all might be the best way to handle today’s circumstances.

To that end…I’m hearing a lot of statements that begin with “What if…?

  • “What if we bought those tickets now for the 15th of April…?”
  • “What if you just came over here to stay…?”
  • “What if you run to the store for that right now…?”
  • “What if my client drops the job she usually sends this week?

What if…?” keeps you from enjoying the best life has to offer.

Risk. Risk aversion. Risk Comfort.  “What if…?” is all wrapped up in THAT.

...when - what if...? - becomes your default, you're stealing your own liberty, and any chance to grow Click To Tweet

If you get too absorbed in “what if…?”…then you end up totally avoiding consequences, being afraid to make mistakes, and failing.  But failing leads to learning, which enables your progress.

Certainly, a fair assessment of your present concern may lead you to take cautious actions, but when “what if…?” becomes your default, you’re stealing your own liberty, and any chance to grow.

Alternatives to the “What if…?” thought, then?

  1. Let’s look at that closer.
  2. Can we follow that worry to its likely conclusion?
  3. Maybe it’ll be just fine!
  4. Here are 2 or 3 OTHER outcomes that are also just as likely.
  5. Let’s Google that.
  6. The research doesn’t support that.
  7. What if you’re wrong in your worry?
  8. That didn’t happen when ABC did it.
  9. Let’s make a list of the pros and cons.

I’m just brainstorming here.  The point is that the “What if…?” question can take down a rabbit hole that can either prevent you from making ANY decision in the end (and you’re no better off), OR put you into a mind-numbing mental exercise that actually INCREASES your worry.

Some people are just wired to give more attention to personal safety and risk aversion.  I’m not judging.  Prudence has its place.  Some prospects offer no clear way forward.

But when you see yourself paralyzed time and again by hesitation, doubt, worry, and “What if…?”, it could be time to pivot to a future left to chance…or God. And that has a lot going for it too.
















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