I was asked a deep question which has been in the back of my mind for the couple months since it was asked. It has altered my thoughts perceptions on many things, and I wish I had felt this way earlier. It’s crept into even minor decision making, and has made me stop and think several times. It’s a simple question, but for me it opened a pandora’s box. I’m sure it has been asked to me before, and likely to many of you, in a slightly different way. It was “Do you ever think of any points in your life that would have made a big difference to who you are now?” Now that is very related to “Do you have any regrets”, and yes it’s a bit oddly worded so here is what this asked of me.
What opportunities did I have offered to me, that I could have taken or attempted to take, that would have changed who I am now, years later?
Would those changes have put me closer to who I want to be now?
Do I regret missed opportunities?
Would I want to be the same person?
You can see how this one question brings up an endless stream of ever deepening and self-reflecting questions. It’s easy to slip into a spiral of questioning without giving yourself the proper time to answer. For the first days and even weeks after this question was asked, these questions plagued me. I will be completely honest here, it made me question a lot of things about my life, in a negative way. It was hard. Some days I felt devoid of energy, waking up to feel my legs barely work. Practices and social interactions dragged and I wanted to stop it all and just be alone. It took me weeks to realize that I felt so bad, my thoughts were so negative, because all I would do is ask questions. Never gave myself adequate time to answer the questions. I constantly asked negative questions. I had to break that.
I was lucky to realize that as soon as I did, and began to change.
Firstly, I stopped asking the negative framed questions. How would your life be better if you took opportunity A? What if this had happened to you? What if you were better? What if you had done better things? None of these questions will have positive answers. So I stopped asking the questions leading me to the negative route.
Secondly I went back to the very first question I was asked, took it, analyzed it, and then spent two days thoroughly answering it. Once I had done that, I spent at least an entire day answering a single question before moving on to the next. I didn’t write down most of the things, it was mostly in my head just to myself. I discovered that I have not dismissed any significant opportunities. There are minor ones here and there but the reality is, I am happy with who I am today, I wouldn’t be anywhere else and wouldn’t go any other route. A lot of the possible differences my life could have had would have been because of not taking an opportunity that in reality I did. This is the beginning of my new mindset.
This mindset I have gloriously called the “What ifn’t” mindset. (Yeah I made up that word, it’s not tat creative either, I’m open to suggestions. And yeah that’s also not the title of the blog but who’s going to click on a blog with a pretty glaring error in the headline? Maybe an experiment for another day). Now this what ifn’t mindset gets me thinking both positively and gets me to answer the question.
Here is an example.
Up until early high school I had been doing most of my sport for fun, attending a few practices, nothing on my own, goofing off here and there as kids do. Now In early high school I was lucky to attend a competition, the highest I had gotten to attend so far. It was well run and gathered kids from all over in an olympic style multi-sport games. I often find myself asking “What if I had taken things more seriously before high school? How much better would I be now?” Those are sucky questions to ask, and worse to answer. So don’t. Find the What ifn’t. The What ifn’t here is what if I hadn’t attended those games? I would have continued to be more recreational instead of competitive through the next years, too. That competition was when I realized this sport, this is what I want to do. Standing atop that podium with the national anthem playing (Yes, I also happened to win! I did have a bit of natural talent and was a fast learner) I felt the best I ever had. I knew I wanted more, all the way to the Olympic podium.
I have found for every one of my conundrums of questioning, there is a related what ifn’t moment that I focus on instead. There may be some that won’t work, And that will be a mistake I will have made, we’re all allowed a few, I think.
Now another very important point – go out and CREATE what ifn’t moments! Don’t hold yourself back – take the leap! I know that’s been said everywhere but for me, looking back on these what ifn’t moments that could easily have been what IF moments, taking the leap has a whole more clarity to me. I don’t ever want to create what if moments for my future self to think about. Even down to the very smallest of decisions, I think “will this be a what if, or a what ifn’t moment”. Then I make it a what ifn’t moment.
I hope everything I have said here makes sense. If it doesn’t leave a comment and I will try my best to clarify. This was a huge breakthrough for me, mentally, and I wanted to share it in the hopes if can help many people, I know I am not alone with many of my feelings. I would love to hear feedback on what you think and if this mindset helps you in any way. Thanks for taking the time to read all this,
Until next time.