You’re not alone.
Many of us play the “what if” game in our heads.
It starts with an idea like, Maybe I’ll take on that new project.
Then that voice in our head jumps in and starts saying, “What if…”.
And that voice LOVES negativity. So you end up with thoughts like:
What if I fail?
What if it doesn’t work out?
What if I look stupid?
On and on it goes.
(There’s a lot of research on this. It’s called negative self-talk.)
This pattern prevents us from taking chances and reaching our fullest potential because it crushes hope before it has a chance to evolve into greatness.
So instead of going for it, we spiral into negative ‘what ifs’ until we’ve convinced ourselves that the best route is doing nothing at all.
And playing the “what if” game this way means you’re guaranteed to lose.
That’s because you’re only playing HALF the game. You’ve stopped before giving yourself a chance to counter with the positive “what ifs”.
What if it’s a huge success?
What if I DO get that job offer?
What if this becomes the biggest win of my career?
Too often, we stop in the face of negative self-talk and never play out the positives that could emerge.
I used to play the negative “what if” game all the time. Weekly. Daily. Hourly.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago after reading Unf*ck Yourself— great book btw, don’t let the title scare you off — that I realized that the thoughts in my head were almost completely negative self-talk.
Instead of riding the wave of excitement and optimism that accompanied a big idea or a new challenge, arrows of negative, imaginary outcomes would shoot me down and prevent me from taking action.
Without realizing it, I had become my own worst critic — a heckler in the stands who was so effective that I wouldn’t even put on my jersey because “I’d probably lose anyway, so why bother?”
I still have negative thoughts from time to time, specifically when I come up with ideas that require trying something new or putting myself out there (like creating the Content Strategy Reeder).
But now I acknowledge when it’s happening and force myself to finish the game. I make myself think of positive possibilities on a 1:1 ratio. For every scary possibility, I come up with one good one.
Try it this week. You’ll feel more empowered, less stressed, and your self-confidence will soar.
It’s a tiny change that’ll have a HUGE impact on your mood throughout the day.
I’m sharing this because you might be playing (or losing) the “what if” game and not even know it.
And if you’re nervous about a big idea, hopefully this is the nudge you need to go for it.
Holler at your next Saturday,
Content on content
Every now and then I share content about content. Might be something I’m reading or something that inspired me. It just might give you a lift too.
Even as a VERY successful sales leader, Maria Tribble, VP Enterprise Sales at Path Factory, told me she struggles with this concept (she calls it the ‘itty bitty shitty committee’). I talked to her about it on Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast, and it was wildly validating to know I’m not alone. (And neither are you.)