What if? Seems like a simple question, when the truth is it can help us with so much. In this episode of we take a look at how asking this question of the past can help us to learn more about ourself. Asking it of our future can help cement our dreams, and asking it in the present supports us in taking action towards those dreams.
You’re listening to the Samantha Leith Podcast, Episode 13, the Power of What If. Okay, it’s the beginning of the year. Before we get stuck into our words of the year, and our goals of the year, and our affirmations for the year, and our vision boards for the year, and everything else we want to do at the beginning of every year to set ourselves up for success, there’s one question I really want you to ask yourselves and that is: What if?
Now, it’s a loaded question, but most questions are. They’re also really powerful when we use them wisely. Little kids wouldn’t learn as much as they did if they didn’t ask why every five seconds? I thank my lucky stars that Elodie wasn’t one of those kids, thank goodness, because, “Oh, why? Why, why?” Yeah. No, I didn’t get that. Thank goodness. I do ask myself a lot of questions and I encourage all my clients and my friends, anyone I come across, to ask themselves lots of questions because self-questioning in particular is really important to our development and it supports that wonderful thing called a growth mindset that we all want to have in order to have our most extraordinary life. Okay?
We’ve got to ask the right questions, because they’re the ones that literally have the power to change your life. The beginning of the year, we have a clean slate. If you are in Australia, our taxation year means we don’t really have a clean slate at the beginning of the year. That kind of does my head in a little bit, because I need to then almost have two sets of goals for every year, a financial year set of goals and a calendar year set of goals.
If you’re anywhere else in the world, most countries, well, a lot of countries do the January 1st or 31st of December thing. We’re just going to go with that for the sake of this scenario. We start the year, and we have this clean slate like there’s nothing in your sales probably, you add a zero. Likewise, you probably haven’t spent anything as that clock clicks over, that first second into the new year. You also probably haven’t made any bad decisions yet, unless it was a big New Year’s Eve. Well, if you did, I really hope you had fun. You haven’t changed anything in your life just yet. It’s that one second past midnight. It’s that clean slate. There’s no regrets. There’s no, oh my God, I freaking did it. Jumping for joys. It’s .0.
When we have those moments, that question, what if, is perfect. It really, really, really is perfect. I’m going to give you a quote. There’s a couple of them. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” Okay? Then there’s this other guy called Bill Keen, similar quote, but we have a little bit of a tweak. It was, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift from God, which is why we call it the present.”
Now, I’m not religious, so I don’t choose the present as a gift from God, but I do choose it as a gift that I have because who knows if I’m going to be here tomorrow? Whatever you think, whatever higher being, purpose, universe, spirituality is yours, pop that in there. Yesterday’s history, today is a mystery, today is a gift. At that moment, at that one second past midnight on the 1st of January, that present bit is just this white space of possibility. It’s magical, absolutely magical.
WHAT IF QUESTIONS FROM YOUR PAST
If you’re like me or most people on the planet, when we ask ourselves those what if questions, they’re genuinely like based in that past historical regret kind of asking. What if I hadn’t left school when I left school? What if I hadn’t been in that crappy relationship? What if I had actually decided to put in more money into my superannuation? Blah, blah, blah. What if? This questioning of how magical our lives could have, would have, should have been if we hadn’t made a decision, blah blah. That’s not really that healthy for you to be doing at this particular moment, unless you’re going to learn something from it.
If you’re going to ask yourselves those questions, like the what if I had made a different choice in that moment, if I’d gone down that different road, if I’d followed the yellow brick road, but I didn’t. What did I learn from not actually doing that? That’s okay. If you’re going to look at it from that point of view, that’s a really good way and a healthy way to ask yourself that question. If you are asking yourself, what if, because you think it’s this magical time machine, and it’s going to take you back, and if you wiggle your nose like Samantha the good witch, or you cross your arms together, or you have a magical genie, you can go back and can change it all because you’ve asked the right question, it’s not going to happen.
Okay? It’s really not going to happen. We can’t use those, that question as a punishment to ourselves because we clearly failed because we got to that fork of the road and we made that wrong decision. We can’t have it fill ourselves up with regret and shame, but we can learn from it. Why do I say this to you? I’ve spent so long, so many wasted hours of my life doing that what if conversation, asking that question from that place of hope that maybe if I thought long and hard enough, I could go back and fix it. Okay?
It wasn’t till I think in the last couple of years that I started asking myself that what if question about the past and doing that, “Huh? Why did I do that? What did I learn from it?” As I’ve said gazillions of times, if you followed me or listened to anything I’ve done, I really like who I am at this particular moment in my life. Going back into the past with that what if there’s a regret point of view? There’s no point in that because all of those decisions, those wrong forks in the roads, the bad decisions, the good decisions that I’m not quite sure about that one decisions, made me who I am. Let it go and get on with it.
I’ve learned about my behaviors and why I made decisions from asking myself that question. Okay. That’s the past, okay? We don’t want to go back there.
WHAT IF QUESTIONS BASED FROM POSSIBILITY
We want to ask that what if question from that magical place of possibility. We want to think about it in terms of goal setting, and our visioning, and our direction, our purpose, our opportunities, our anything is possible-itis that I’d love for all of you to have. Now, I have a tattoo on my wrist that says limitless. Now, do I really believe I’m limitless? No, there’s probably limits and I’ve got no desire to go to space. I’ve got no desire to be a race car driver or do a bungee jump. Like the thought of that, yeah, no thanks, but I’m limitless in terms of how I think about what’s possible for my future. Any of the limits that I put on myself are ones I put on myself, not ones that society or previous beliefs are going to put on me. They’re choices I make. They’re decisions I make based on questions. Ask that what if question, thinking about that tattoo. Limitless, like, what can you think into your possibility, into your future, by asking that question?
What if you did leave that relationship? What’s possible? What if on the 9th of January, or whatever day you go back into the office, in that job where you think, man, I do a really good job, and I don’t think I’m paid well enough. What if you spent the next couple of days thinking about how you can go into your boss and go, “This is what I bring to the organization. This is currently how I’m getting rewarded from the organization. I think there’s a bit of a mismatch. Can we have a chat about it,” and go in with a solution to that?
What if you decided that this was the year that you were going to have a side hustle? What if you decided that this was the year you actually told people what your goal was, and you asked for help on that goal? What if is literally limitless. We can think of anything. What if I had that button in my kitchen that said press for champagne? That would be a good day. First I’d have to Google where to find it, and I don’t want to drink that much. Well, I’m not going to do it. What if I did? What if I could earn that amount of money that I wanted to earn? What if running that 5K was really, really, really really easy?
WHAT IF QUESTIONS FROM YOUR FUTURE
Okay, so take some time to think about those what if questions from your future, because that’s how you get to make decisions, now. Remember that whole the present is a gift thing I mentioned, and we had those great quotes from? When you make a decision right now, you want to think about it from the place of being that what if person. If your question is, what if this was the year I chose to do my side hustle? You know what that side hustle is? It’s been like this itchy thing creeping up from your toes every single day for the last couple of years. You’ve done nothing about it because you wanted to play safe, or you’re a little bit scared of maybe it failing, or maybe it’s succeeding, it doesn’t really matter but what if this was the year that you decided to make it happen?
So when you wake up tomorrow morning, if you are thinking about that side hustle being in place, what are you going to do today about that? You’re going to make decisions based on that possibility, not based on a life where we think about the what if from the past. We think, “Oh, well, I won’t have that glass of champagne because oh my God, that made, I had that bad decision.” What if I hadn’t had that glass of champagne on that date? Then I wouldn’t have done that. Then it wouldn’t have gone.
See, we go round and round and round and round at our heads from the past, which is not actually going to get us anywhere. You want to wake up and think, huh? Decisions from the future. Now, I’m not talking like a whole back to the future thing and we’re going to get a fancy car, but we make better decisions because of that question, and because of the way we think about things. If you think about questions on a whole, there’s many, many, many positives for asking questions. We can learn new things. We can discover new ways of doing things. We can form new or better habits if we ask better questions and therefore, make better decisions. This has been a really, really big one for me. I trust myself more.
When I ask myself a question and I can come up with a really good answer for it, that’s true to me and not based on stuff around, I have a lot more trust in myself. In particular, asking these what if questions of the future can help you get really comfortable in the unknown. What is one of the most amazing things about being a confident person? You’re comfortable in the unknown. You’re willing to fail. You’re willing to explore and take chances. Getting comfortably in the unknown is really, really, really important for anything we want to have. Okay?
QUESTIONS THAT ALLOW OURSELVES TO DREAM
This what if question, and many, many other questions, are also really good for allowing ourselves to dream. As we beget adults, I don’t know about you, but I’ve thought oh so often like, “Oh, who am I to think that dream? Who am I to think I could do that now?” I’m too old. My hair is too thin, my feet are too big. I’m too fat, I’m too tired. I’m a single mother. I’m blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All of those limiting things that we put on ourselves, when we allow ourselves to dream, not asking the right questions.
We might ask ourselves a question based on what someone else is doing, not based on what if I could do it? What if I could change the world? What if I, I don’t know, came up with a better light bulb? Okay, I’m probably not going to do that. You know what I mean?
Those questions, they help us move forward. What’s happening if you’re not moving forward? Really, if you’re not moving forward. You’re stopping, and if you stop in this thing called life, you’re moving backwards. Unless I’m doing the moonwalk, I don’t want to be moving backwards. Really don’t want to be.
WHAT IF I COULD ACTUALLY DO THAT?
Now that you’ve asked yourself this magical what if question, and you are thinking about your 2023 from this place of, oh yeah, what if I could actually do that? You can create better beliefs. If you’ve watched, I think it was October, 2022, the Samantha Leith Show. Well, actually, episode 12 of this podcast, I talk about the dream, believe, act, achieve framework. We’ll have this in the show notes, but one of the things within that is forming better beliefs. We go through these stages of how to do it. If you already have the answer to that what if question, it’s easier to go through those stages. There’s different ways of doing it.
One of them might resonate with you or you might think, oh, it sounds a bit clunky, Sam. Pick something else. Okay? You go from, I don’t believe it’s possible to, I believe I will. okay ? That will go through, I don’t believe it’s possible, to I believe it’s possible for other people, to I believe I can, to I believe I will. That what if question is that bit at the end, that’s that will bit. What if you did actually achieve that? You’ve got to get to the belief that you can do that.
If you don’t like the whole I believe thing, you might be one of those people that goes, “Hmm, I can do it. I’m doing it. I did it. I did it again.” You may sing a Britney song as you do it. Oops, I didn’t know. I won’t sing that now. Never been good at singing Britney songs, huh. What if I was good at singing Britney songs? Well, doesn’t matter to me because there’s not actually that many of them I want to sing. No offense, Britney, not my cup of tea. Okay? I’ve totally sidetracked there.
Another way of creating that better belief from this place of what if is, it’s impossible. Yeah, what if? Yeah, no, that’s totally impossible. Then you might be, what if? Oh, you might get to, it’s possible. Yeah, it’s totally possible that I could do that. Then you might ask yourself again, what if? Oh, it’s possible, but it’s improbable. Okay, like dude, really think about that. It’s totally improbable. Then one day, you might ask yourself that question again, and start because you’ve been taking the actions to actually do the thing.
You ask yourself that what if question. You think it’s probable. See how there’s a loop there? That what if question can go from one end of the scale all the way around and be flipped around till you get to point, yeah, yep, I got this, I got this. That’s where we want to get to on everything. Like everything. What if I made a better dinner tonight? Actually, all jokes aside, what if I could actually decide what to make for dinner tonight, instead of taking an hour to go, “Oh, I don’t know what to cook for dinner.” Maybe that’s something I should work on in 2023. I have a decision fatigue about dinner. Make Elodie do it this year, like a goal for the year. Elodie has to decide on every meal. Probably not good in an HSC year, but I’ll give it a go.
Back to this what if question. We’ve talked about it in the past, and we’re going, “Unless we can learn from it, we really don’t want to ask ourselves that question.” We’ve talked about it in the future. What if I could actually do that thing, or have that thing, or be that person, or see that success, or walk down the aisle, or have 10 more children, or whatever it is? Then there’s that magical, wonderful place. Right now, that moment that you are in right now, that gift that you have and that I have right now. What are you doing right now?
WHAT IF QUESTIONS FROM YOUR PRESENT
You want to make every decision like ah, can’t really think of any good examples of … oh yeah, maybe a decision about where to get petrol. I guess you’re not making that from your what if place. Let’s just say 90% of the decisions that you make right now in this present moment, you want to decide on them based on that future what if you. It’s going to impact everything you do, and change the direction of the decisions that you make.
What if you did decide to get up when the alarm went off? What if you didn’t go, “Oh, it’s the holidays. I can’t be bothered. No one else is working in January. I’m going back to sleep.” What if you didn’t? What if the future you, the future extraordinary you that at the end of this year wants to look back and go, “Oh my God, my side hustle brought an extra $5,000 a month, and I’m so freaking happy.” That future you decided to get up when the alarm went off. Simple. Changes the trajectory of your year, that one question.
Another example. What if you did decide to completely ignore your guts and open another bottle of wine? You’re just watching TV, you’re having a bit of a relax, you think, yeah, I’ll open another bottle of wine. What if your gut was saying, “No, don’t do that. No, don’t do that. It’ll be bad for you.” What if you ignored it? That’s future you not doing the right thing by you. You want to answer to your gut. You want to go with that answer that your future what if person would want. That future what if person would be like, “Uh-huh, no more one for you tonight. Okay?
Most of these what if questions, like what if I did answer that phone call? What if I did the dishes before I left home? A lot of them are inconsequential, and most certainly for the majority of us, those questions don’t have a deadly or a terrible impact on our lives, but they are impactful. It’s these little micro decisions we make about whether we make that phone call, or what we choose to have for breakfast. Did we get up when the alarm went off? Am I going to put myself out there? Am I going to film that TikTok? Am I going to record this podcast? Those things, those tiny little things that we do, are really, really impactful in our lives.
If we make those decisions based on that future what if person, things change, things can really, really change. We don’t teach our kids to ask this question. We think about it as being, oh, I’m generalizing here, but I know I kind of brought up feeling or knowing or being told that those what if questions were just fantastical. You’re dreaming, don’t dream too big. Are you kidding? No, you can’t do that, because that what if thing was scary, obviously, for a lot of the people that I shared stuff with.
Maybe don’t walk into your house this afternoon or sit down with your partner and go, “So I’ve been thinking this what if question.” You might not be comfortable already to do that, and they might not be open and ready and willing to receive what you want to say. Don’t you quash that what if out of you, because everything’s freaking possible. Everything. Do you think that two years ago, three years ago, five years ago, the world would be like it is right now? Look at things like chat Chat GPT, I think it’s called. I’ve been reading a lot about it today and yesterday.
I really don’t know much about it until I started reading about it, but it’s huge. Now, imagine if the person a couple of years ago would have gone, “Hmm, what if I came up with some AI to write a whole lot of content for people? What if I did that?” If he’d gotten up every day, I’m assuming it’s a he, that’s a really bad thing. If they had gotten up every day and not made the decisions about what they were going to do that day, based on that what if I could create this thing piece that was in their head, we wouldn’t have that piece of software. I wouldn’t be seeing someone talk about it in literally every second Instagram post.
I haven’t actually gone onto the website yet, but maybe I’ll do that later. I kind of like writing, so maybe I won’t. Who knows? What if I did? What if I didn’t? Can I ask myself that question all day?
This podcast, for example, what if Steve Jobs hadn’t had the vision that he had for Apple and all of the things that it could do? He had that what if vision. Every day, and I’ve never worked for Apple, but every day I’m guessing, everybody that was in those teams, and in those meetings, and knew the direction of that what if question, made the decisions to take the action on those days to actually fricking get there. Seriously, it’s that important.
HOW TO GET TO THAT WHAT IF
I’m going to keep today short and sweet, I think. I’m going to do a lot more this month about how we actually set ourselves up for success this year. Right now, I really, really just want you to spend some time, grab a piece of paper. You know I love journaling. Grab your journal if you want. Type it if you really want to, or even pop on your headset and record into your phone in a voice memo, those big picture what if dreams for your year.
Once you’ve done that, I just want you to pick a couple of decisions that you need to make every day, choices that you have to do every day that are going to help you get to that what if. It’s not goal setting in particular. It’s not, “Oh, okay, what if I did make those five phone calls, or what if,” no, I just want you to make little decisions based from that what if place. Then when we get further into goal setting for the year, we can nut it out some more. Right now, just for the next 24 hours, the next week, whatever it is, I just want you to think about that what if from the future, not from the past, unless you want to look at it and take some things out of it and learn from it if that’s the only reason you want to do it. Okay?
Then when you’ve thought about that what if, just one, just pick one for the year. Just one magical, fabulous, what if. I want you to help, do a little bit of that rewiring in that fabulous brain of yours, using that incredible thing we all have, good neuroplasticity, and write it out in that way I talked about to create a better belief.
What if this year was the year I actually ran the City to surf? It’s a really good example, because I used to want to do it, and I think I used to want to do it just to prove that I could do it. Really not interested in doing it anymore, but I’m going to do it for this example. What if I wrote this was the year I ran the City to surf? Well, I would say I don’t believe it’s possible for me to run the City to surf. No, there’s hills, my feet hurt, and I’d be puffy. I’ve never run a 5K, that’s 10K. A thousand reasons why I can’t do it.
Then maybe tomorrow when I journal, I might write, “I believe it’s possible for others to run the City to surf, because I’ve seen other people do it. I’ve seen people do it in like, I don’t know, 32 minutes or something is the record. I used to sit on their balcony at Ravisi’s at Bondi Beach the day of the City to surf with a whole bunch of friends, and we’d look down at the finish line as people were going through it. We were drinking cocktails and having a fabulous lunch. I believe it is possible for others to do it, because I’ve seen them do it.
Then maybe the next day after sitting on it a little bit, I might write, “I believe I can actually run the City to surf. Yeah, if I put in the work, yeah, I could actually do it. Yeah, I get that.” Then maybe the next day after thinking about it a bit more, and making a few more of those right now in the present decisions from that what if place, I might write in my journal, “I totally believe I will run the city to surf in 2023. Yep. I absolutely 100% believe I will do it,” because in those few days I’ve made little tweaks to my life in order to believe that it’s actually possible.
Now, for some of those what if dreams, yeah, I might not be able to turn around your belief in a couple of days. I don’t actually know if I could even do that with the City to surf example, but you get the picture. I want you to just make those little tweaks every day by making a decision from that future what if place, in order to change your belief to help you make it happen. Okay?
Stay well, my friends. Have a lovely, magical start to 2023, and I will see you next week. Don’t forget to tag me at Samantha Leith on any of the socials, and let me know what your big what if dream for 2023 is, because I would love to be cheering you on from the sidelines. Bye.
Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Samantha Leith Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode and wanna dive deeper into the world of personal development and what’s possible for you, then I’d love to invite you to join the Club. It’s my monthly membership designed to guide and support you with the tools and the coaching you need to be extraordinary. Head on over to samanthaleith.com/theclub for more information. I’d love to see you on the inside.