I ask this question a lot — of myself as well as others — because it causes us to dig deeper. And interestingly, some answer the two questions a bit differently. I’m reminded of it today because I had lunch with a woman who was in one of my leadership retreats two years ago — and she reminded me of how important that question had been for her.  Her answer: I would run for political office. And two years later, she has filed to do so!

    I was thrilled to hear that the question stimulated such a great direction. And regardless of whether you are interested in taking an enormous plunge — and I consider running for office a totally worthwhile — and challenging — decision — consider the question for yourself when you are in a mood for reflection.  AND when you are in a mood for change, because it’s a question that typically moves you to a different part of your though processes.

    “What would you do if you won the lottery?” engages fantasy and goals that seem unattainable  unless you have the money from a big win.

    This question posed today is different. It stretches your thinking, but it does not have the parameters or limitations of needing a big chunk of cash.  Obviously money is a factor in many of our decisions about big changes. The difference? It doesn’t have to be the deciding factor.

    The question also helps you surface, and hopefully manage, the things that hold you back: Fear and the possibility of failure…and sometimes they are obviously linked together: the fear is that I will fail.  And until you begin to get your big aspirations down on paper, you fall “victim” to multiple thought distortions:  “I have zero skills to do ____” . I’m being crazy and totally unrealistic to consider _____” . “who do I think I am to consider ____” . “What the h___ is wrong with me to imagine being able to ____”

    Those are just a few examples of the thoughts that swirl around in the heads of many if not most of us on those days when we aren’t thinking clearly enough.  The distortions are significant because they have a “bit of truth” buried in them — but it’s just a BIT.  The distortion, the exaggeration, the inflammatory words, turn the concern into fear. And the fear becomes a roadblock…..a big sign in the road that says TURN BACK, THIS IS DANGEROUS.  The reality: the thoughts that have become distorted are the danger….and that’s because they stop you in your progression forward — big time!

    Consequently part of the exercise is to dig out the distortions. Find the exaggerations, the inflammatory words, the “awful-izing” the “catastrophizing”…the words that pull you into the space of “not possible” and I “just can’t.”  Re-framing such thoughts into realistic concerns and/or limitations is quite different. An example: “This will be challenging, perhaps really hard work, and to accomplish my goal, I need to _______.” Now you are headed in identifying the realistic challenges, the step by step process you might need to eventually do the thing that initially sounds so difficult.  Write it all down. Keep lists of goals — the big ones, the small one, the ones in between. Take a goal and think of it in steps 1 through 10. Start with #1 as the easiest thing to do. Identify #10 as the hardest.  Then slowly consider all the steps/goals/tasks in between.

    If you search my blogs you’ll find more on goals, thought distortions, ideas for goal setting and task completion. And if you want even more detail, see my book: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH!

    The main thing is to allow your mind to open up and move beyond the road blocks thrown up by “I can’t” and “I’m too afraid.”  Go for it.  And always remember you can ask for advice — talk to a friend or family member or co-worker. Try saying out loud what you want to do and just see how it SOUNDS. And remember you can contact me any time with questions.  Take good care of yourself!