What If?

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What if you became a millionaire?

What if you went bankrupt?

What if you married the person of your dreams?

What if you never married?

What if you got a promotion?

What if you got fired?

What if you joined the 1% club?

What if you hate clubs?

What if you went on an around the world trip?

What if you stayed in one city for the rest of your life?

What if you have lots of big goals?

What if you don’t believe in setting goals?

What if you run a business and spread your advertising far and wide?

What if you’re anti-capitalist?

What if you took a space flight?

What if you’re afraid of heights?

What if you walked across America?

What if you broke a leg?

What if you’re always tired?

What if you had lots of energy?

What if you quit your job with $3,000 in the bank, adopted a minimalist lifestyle, and never looked back?

What if you stayed in a job you hated for the rest of your life?

What if you’re busy and have lots to do?

What if you’re bored?

What if you became famous for hating on celebrities?

What if you don’t care about celebrities?

What if you killed your TV?

What if you like TV?

What if you went on an epic book tour even though “nobody does book tours anymore”?

What if you hate reading?

What if you’re doing exactly what you want right now?

What if you don’t know what you want from life?

What if none of it matters?

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{ 59 comments }

Scott McIntyre

Hi Karol,

Thought provoking, indeed.

I believe ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ are the four saddest and most regretful words we can ever use. It’s best to try to live life in a way that means you don’t have to utter them.

Laurie

I don’t know, Scott…”What if” can be challenging in a positive way, too…for example, last April I turned 40, and this time last year I said to myself, “instead of making it just another birthday, what if I turn the whole year of 2010 into a giant celebration of reaching this milestone?” And it’s been the most awesome thing! I never dreamed I’d be where I am now :)
Laurie in Michigan

Scott McIntyre

Hi Laurie,

You’re right – ‘what if’ can be a great motivator when it helps us imagine the possibilities of doing something… and then we go ahead and do it.

I meant ‘what if’ can be sad when we use it to look back with regret at not having taken action when we wanted to: “what if I’d done it”. Thanks for helping me make my point clearer ;-)

Well done on having a brilliant 2010!

Laurie

Yeah, “what if” can be a blood-sucking demon or it can be a marvelous catalyst…as with the serenity prayer, ya gotta have the wisdom to know the difference. ;)

Karol

Great perspective. Thank you Laure! :)

Karol

Thanks Scott. Yes, as Laurie pointed out, it all depends on perspective. :)

Torrie

I love this. For the last few days I’ve had that song by Linkin Park stuck in my head. “But in the end it doesn’t even matter.” So this post is quite fitting for stuff I’ve been thinking about lately. The idea of it, although hard to swallow, is quite liberating actually.

paurullan

If I knew nothing of math I would say «what a coincidence» :D

I couple minutes ago I was thinking exactly the same, remembered the song and put it on.

So far so true, letting things go is always hard and you do not feel right with that empty space, be it in your heart or your head.

But everything being ephemeral is precisely the reason you must rock your world: no one else will!

Thanks Karol!

Anthea

Any time I’m feeling down and listen to “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, it helps me feel better. Very similar idea.

Karol

Thanks Anthea. I’ve heard of that song, but I can’t think of how it goes or the lyrics. :)

Q

Me too. :D

“Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”

Now I often say to that the earth and sky don’t last forever, either. It’s the kind of thing that could strike fear into ones heart and stop you dead in your tracks if you let it, but on the other hand knowing that it all slips away can be so empowering. It frees us to do what we want to do without the threat of a “permanent record” to always remind us of our missteps.

Yet, many people relive their mistakes daily through the negative tape loops in their minds. Baby, even our minds don’t last forever. Might as well do away with it now, pesky thing always has a habit of ruining the moment anyhow…

What if the present moment is the only one we get?
What if we always do our best?
What if we give everything 100%?
What if we sit still long enough to hear what our heart had to say?

Thanks for the post, Karol. I loved this one! Some great links in here, too. :)

Karol

Q, this is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

“What if the present moment is the only one we get?” Exactly.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present. :) Not sure who said that or if it’s the correct quote. But your comment reminded me of this.

Karol

Thank you Torrie.

I don’t have the answers. Does it matter? Does it not matter? This was written to get you (and me) thinking. :)

David Damron

Here’s how I take your last question….

Though the reality is that many, if not all, of my actions will have a lasting effect on this world, I feel that caring about “it” mattering is a much more enjoyable life than believing that nothing matters.

If we all took the approach that nothing matters, then we would be the most unproductive and unfriendly beings to ever exist. That just doesn’t sound fun.

So, I am choosing to think that all but the last questions matter. I’d like to at least think, however gullible I may be, that my actions and interactions with others have some small profound reasoning.

Love questions post…..got me thinking….that’s always a good thing…

David Damron
LifeExcursion

Karol

You’re right David. I originally ended this article with “What if everything matters?” but I took that out at the 11th hour. :)

Lots of things do matter to me. But a lot of stuff that we get caught up about doesn’t matter.

David Damron

I am going to have to write a post on this. I think that analyzing if something really matters is extremely important. I think questioning what matters to us individually is what we should all focus on. I’d hate for your readers to think that nothing matters. I know you know that there are things that matter but your influence may confuse others.

Karol

The readers here are smart enough to figure out that this post is meant to get them (and me) thinking and doesn’t necessarily have any direct answers itself. :)

David Damron

No insults meant to my fellow Ridiculous Extraordinares…..They are definitely way more intelligent than I am….Maybe I was speaking to myself when I wrote that comment….hahaha

David Damron
LifeExcursion

Sheetal

What if I didn’t make any decisions in life….

Karol

What if we let life make our decisions for us?

Sheetal

what if allowing life to make our decisions left us wondering what if… :D

Kellie Kowalski

Very thought provoking post! I like to think that everything matters, and at the same time, nothing matters.

Which is to say, I try to be conscious of my actions and words; they can affect others, and that matters. But I try not to sweat the small stuff; it doesn’t matter at all.

Karol

Life Lesson #38: Nothing is trivial. :)

Lots of stuff matters. But sometimes, you’re dead on, nothing matters. :)

Lydia

This post reminded me of one of my favourite quotes: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

A friend sent it to me a few years ago when everything was falling apart simultaneously – my SO had been laid off, I was in chronic pain due to some health issues, and fraudulent use of our debit card had siphoned off a big chunk of our savings. It was a very stressful time to say the least. Not to sound like a pollyanna, but it did all work out eventually.

Laurie

Lydia, I love that quote! Gonna write it out and stick it on my computer here at work…

I bet you were a stronger, wiser person as well, eh? Same thing happened to me in early 2007. My whole world fell completely to pieces, and I had to start again at square one. Battled intense fear for over a year, and had to face stuff I never knew I had the guts to face. It’s good to know, now, that I do :)

Lydia

Most definitely, Laurie! It wasn’t something I ever would have signed up for but it did teach me a lot of very important lessons. e.g. like you I’m tougher than I would have guessed.

Karol

Thanks Lydia. Great quote.

You definitely don’t sound like a pollyanna … reading your thoughts will inspire a lot of people. :)

Eric

The end statement is awesome Karol!

I think “what ifs” only matter when somebody constantly asks that question inside, thus holding them captive in fear.

Scrap the “what ifs” and ask “why not”.

Keep rockin’!

Eric

Karol

“what if the question of what if is pointless?” hehe … sorry, couldn’t resist!

But I’m with you. I don’t like asking what if because it’s usually a pointless question. This, however, was a philosophical exercise. :)

Thanks Eric!

Laurie

Hey Karol, you must’ve known I was craving some essay questions…these will do nicely, thank you :)

Here’s my “what if” for the day: what if I sign up for Chris G’s World Domination Summit? I’ve got 6 months to figure out how to get the money and get to Portland!

Rock on, my friend!
Laurie

Karol

:) Hope to see you at WDS Laurie!

Laurie

Yup…just registered! No more “what if.” Gonna throw me further out of my comfort zone than ever before, but the ol’ comfort zone just isn’t as comfy as it used to be :)

Karol

Sweet! See you there for sure then! :)

James Schipper

I think it’s fun to ask questions. So often we are taught to do as we are told and don’t question things. “Just do what you’re told!”

It seems as I get older, I only learn how little I really know, and how much of what I thought was truth was really just an illusion (or a flat-out lie :-D )

Karol

Great point James. When we’re young (teens – early twenties) we feel like we know everything. As we age we begin to realize that we don’t know much, but it’s a beautiful process of discovery. :)

Laurie

This is why turning 40 is such an awesome thing…I wouldn’t return to 20-something for any amount of love or money ;)

James Schipper

I agree with that with the exception of if I could do it knowing what I know now ;-)

Kristi

Exactly! If I knew then, what I know now, I’d do it all over again. From 18 on anyway…

Galen Pearl

Ha! I laughed out loud! So true, so true. What if questions can drive us crazy with anxiety, or inspire us with hope. But in the end, they are not now.

Karol

Exactly. Thank you Galen! :)

Abhishek

its funny how many people I know who dont even want to read this list, let alone begin to answer them.

Karol

I’m not sure if funny is the right word. ;)

Brad

Because of your blog, and a few others but mostly yours, my wife and I took the challenge and sold almost everything we own. After 32 years of living in the same state, and complaining about it every winter, we finally decided to get off our butts and take control of our lives. We’ve gone from a 3500 square foot house in the US with all sorts of amazing comforts, to a 300 square foot apartment on the beach in Costa Rica and learning to live without a car.

It’s scary and exciting. But what sealed the deal for me was our 75 year old neighbor, a very successful business man, coming over to me and saying, ‘you’re doing what the rest of us wish we would have done.’ Thanks for the inspiration. Go freedom fighters!

Karol

Whoa! That is so kick ass Brad! I pretty much don’t know what to say. haha Thank you and congrats!

Stanley Lee

Karol,

Sounds like a wonderful song of the minimalist edition of Jadakiss’s Why. He also mentioned a lot of “what ifs”.

Stanley

Karol

hehe, never heard of it, will have to check it out :)

Rosa

Thought provoking post. Here is one I been asking myself lately,
What if you started today instead of tomorrow?

Karol

I love it. :)

Susan

I grew up in ‘worst case scenario’ mode. In some ways, it did comfort me to think of the very worst thing that could happen, realize it wasn’t so bad, and move on. But mostly it’s just kept me from being present. I try to stop and listen to nature (even in NYC I can do this) and it automatically brings me back.

What If is not only a defense mechanism, but a control mechanism. With it you’re just loaded down with baggage. Without it you’re free to welcome in the ‘what ifs’ that actually matter.

Karol

Thank you Susan. You put that very well. I like the idea of a control mechanism.

Elle Dougherty

What if I comment on this post?

What if I don’t comment on this post?

;)

Karol

What if I responded to your comment? :)

Vincent

Hi Karol,

Sometimes asking what if can help us to break the rules to achieve extraordinary things. It is really a powerful question when used right.

Cheers,
Vincent

Mikko Kemppe

Thanks for this post Karol! And I was super excited to find Jonathan Mead’s blog again. I remember reading it two years ago when I basically just started using the internet. And very interesting post you had at posterous account. I agree, it is sort of ridiculous to be against capitalism, yet enjoy the fruits that it bears. But I understand why some people are against it. There are also lots of greedy and unethical people who happen to be capitalists with lots of money and so for some it may be that it is the capitalist system itself that is in fault. But anyway, loved the what if post. I remember first hearing about he what if game from Jim Rohn on Herbalife seminars :).

Mikko Kemppe

Sorry, I meant to say that for some it may seem that greediness and evil people is the product of capitalism.

Karol

oh no Herbalife!

I know the name Jim Rohn (via Tony Robbins), but I’ve never read or listened to his stuff.

I understand the capitalist pros and cons, it’s just that most (not all) anti-capitalists are hypocrites.

Thanks Mikko!

Mikko Kemppe

I know right, Herbalife, lol. That was like over 10 years ago. Yes, Jim Rohn was a mentor to Tony Robbins. He was one of those first personal development cassette tapes that I listened to back then. Times have sure changed :). And I agree, most anti-capitalist are hypocrites, and most of them probably have no idea that they are one, which I guess is often the case with hypocrites :).

Rob

Karol,
I enjoy the thinking your posts make us do. But, even more, the reasoning and encouragement that is done here amongst you and fellow readers. All of us can relate in one way or another. That is sweet.

Karol

Thanks Rob. I do my best to get us all thinking. :)

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