How “What If” Is Destroying a Generation

When I woke up this morning, I looked in the mirror and asked myself “Are you happy with the path your life is taking right now?” It’s a question I ask myself every day and you should too.

Without this constant reminder of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you’ll easily slip into the trap of being just another average Joe.

It’s one of the many questions that use a shotgun approach to putting life in perspective. If, after asking yourself that question, the answer is no for too many days in a row, you should start the process of diagnosing what the real problem is. The reason why you’re not happy with the path your life is taking.

We were not created to pay bills and die

We were not meant to settle for second string

We were NOT meant to wallow in the rivers of mediocrity

BUT

So many of us do

Why?

I’m not a one man army, hell; I have a huge social circle that I lean on when the going gets tough.
My friends and family support me no matter how crazy my idea is (check out my latest project here).

That kind of support didn’t come overnight and to be honest, it only came after I told them to fuck off a few times. After deciding on this approach, things became much easier because opinions were no longer tied to emotions and making objective decisions was no longer difficult.

You’re probably chock full of ideas and skills that are begging for release. Different things that have the ability to change your life, but you’re too preoccupied with the “what ifs” and the “what they will say” part of the equation.

Can you guess what I’m about to tell you?

No one ever did anything worthwhile by listening to the advice of every Tom, Dick, and Harry. They sure didn’t make a billion dollars by allowing the “What Ifs” to get in their way.

Analysis Paralysis: “What If” is a Fancy Disguise of Fear

A few months ago, I wanted to buy a new computer. There were a few features that were very important to me.
A high-resolution screen equal to or better than the retina display in Mac Books, at least 15 inches of screen real estate, an awesome battery life, powerful video card, 4 GB ram or better, and at least a terabyte of built-in hard disk space.

I turned to my best friend, Google, and started my search. I looked at hundreds of computers, read dozens of reviews, and still couldn’t decide on a computer.

I kept asking myself what if. What if I don’t like the computer, what if it doesn’t meet up with my expectations, what if it’s different from the pictures I’m looking at, what if I don’t like the way the OS functions, what if the color is off when I get it, what if The screen resolution doesn’t meet up with my needs, and a thousand other what ifs.

I was stuck and something that should’ve taken me a few days to select, buy, ship, and start using extended into a few weeks.

What happened to me?

Fear – A strong uncontrollable unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived dangers or threats.

girl in fetal position

I was afraid of perceived threats.

The possibility losing some of my data when I switched over from my old computer.

The chance of buying the wrong computer for my needs.

Or just not liking the computer in the end.

This fear paralyzed me and made it much more difficult to get it over with and move on to more important things.

Before I go on, let me take a quick detour.

Fear is a unique survival mechanism that had a place on the plains of Africa and the mountains of Europe 30,000 years ago when our ancestors were still trying to survive.

It was necessary for to be afraid of large animals, poisonous plants, and unpleasant experiences.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, we’ve advanced to a point where animals and strange plants are no longer a real threat in our daily lives.

The only thing we need to be wary of now is the impressive stupidity of our fellow man; it never ceases to amaze me how some people have turned pure stupidity into an art form.

A video to explain my point

Back to the matter at hand.

I finally bought a new computer, an HP envy, and it was a relief for me to finally get over my fear of perception.

Overcoming “What If” Syndrome

Check out the IA Experiment, where we crush the what if syndrome like it’s fun

The “What If” factor is a vestige of an era long gone. If it was ten thousand years ago, you would have legitimate reasons to feel wary about going to new places and being the first person in your tribe to try something.

You can’t fall back on that excuse anymore.

Evolution is a process that takes millions of years because our planet changes very very slowly. That was before we discovered the power of our minds and recreated the world as we see fit.

It’s been impossible for our brains and bodies to keep up with the changes we’ve brought about and because of that, we have very powerful primitive drives dictating our actions on a daily basis, namely the fear drive which is activated in response to perceived dangers.

  • The perceived danger of failing
  • The perceived challenges you may face
  • The perceived barriers to entry
  • The perceived competition
  • The perceived skills required for success

The list goes on

I’ve been there before, you’ve been there before, and both of us are going to go there again. It’s inevitable that we’ll experience these feelings, but it’s not inevitable that we succumb to them.

The truth is, most, if not all of your fears are just perceptions blown way out of proportion to the real problem. Look at what I went through with something as simple as buying a new computer.

These same perceptions disintegrate when they’re put under the magnifying glass of reason.

Whenever I realize I’m having a problem with perceiving a situation correctly, I like to replace every “what if” with “Why the Fuck not?

What if I can’t do it = Why the Fuck wouldn’t I be able to do it?

What if I don’t have the right skills? = Why the fuck can’t I acquire them?

What if I fail = Why the fuck would I fail?

To overcome the power of “what if”, you need to look it straight in the eye and dominate.

Instead of playing out different doomsday scenarios in your head, get a pen and paper, find a quiet place where you can think, and list all the different “what ifs” you’ve allowed to take on imaginary proportions.

Anything that’s not a 100% bonafide fact should be listed here.

After you’ve cracked your brain and written everything down, I want you to use your rational brain to eliminate your objections one by one.

Let me give you an example using an internet business.

Perception Facts

I need coding experience. WordPress has coded one of the easiest content management systems in the world, it’s free, and no coding necessary on your part.

I need to be an Expert. You only need to know more than the person you’re trying to teach and continue to learn. Your audience will appreciate the way you’re able to relate to them.

I don’t have anything to sell. Affiliate marketing, Licensing a product, or creating your own products are all viable options.

I don’t know how to write in a way that will make people want to read it. Send me an email, honestly, all you need to do is practice. You’ll get better and better.

I don’t want to seem scammy Do you think I’m scammy? You’re running a business and it’s understood that you need to sell things. The thing is, I don’t advise selling $47 products which claim to help your customers make a million dollars in one month.

Finally, Stop Listening to Unqualified Opinions

image of a set of earphones

Who are they and why does their opinion matter for what you’re trying to do in your life?
You wouldn’t take advice from me about fixing a car (although I did have the opportunity of helping my mechanic take apart a 1964 Chevrolet). So why would you take advice from your cousin, who is a chronic employee, about starting a business?

You wouldn’t take advice from your neighborhood drunk about life choices so why would you take advice about your career from someone who failed in theirs?

Unsolicited Opinions and advice are the most worthless things in the world. Worth less than a dime a dozen.
Anyone who gives it to you should be shot and quartered.

My father, a professor of English, once tried to give me business advice. I listened respectfully to what he had to say and had a really good laugh afterward.

It’s easy for someone who has never done it and has no experience to ridicule an idea or a skillset and find huge reasons why it won’t work out.

The first thing you need to do is stop telling them about their plans and the second thing is to stop listening to what the fuckers say (as you can see, I feel strongly about accepting unwanted opinions).

Unfortunately, not many people have mastered the art of not giving a fuck.

“When they tell you not to do it, just smile, nod, and do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyways”
Surround yourself with people whose opinion matters, people who’ve done what you’re trying to do, and those that can support you when times get tough.

For everyone and everything else, Fuck it.

And in Conclusion

Look in the mirror, Are you happy with the way your life is going?

Is the “what if” syndrome rearing its ugly head?

Are the opinions of others weighing you down?

You’re not meant to play second string.

You’re not meant to doubt yourself.

You’re not meant to build another man’s dream for the rest of your life.

Develop your ideas, work on building your skills, and most importantly Attempt Fearlessly so you can Accomplish Masterfully.

Let me ask you again; when you look in the mirror, are you happy with the way your life is going? Let me know how you’re going to take the bull by the horns in the comments.

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14 comments

  • Very insightful post…when you’re getting ready to get ready you will never be ready.

    It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to get done!

    Dr. Lisa

  • A powerful video! I have a son who had the WHAT IF’S and it didn’t get him any farther than jail! he was a drug addict. He did finally get himself clean. He is now working a construction job again that he loves. Thanks for sharing your powerful what if story Daniel

  • You truly are authentic! 🙂

  • That Video made me laugh my head off and sad at the same time. What a powerful article Daniel!

    I am sure glad you got over your perceived fear of whatever it was that got you so paralysed and got a PC. Good to see your blogs again! Perception is such a powerful tool that we actually own, no need to buy.

    All we have to do is Tweak it to our desired results. Funny thing is yesterday I scoped & Podcast-ed about Increasing people’s perceived value of us and our products.

    Than You for sharing!

    • Hey Julie, The video had a similar effect on me. I couldn’t stop laughing when the guy washed his hands in the latrine. “own, no need to lie” You guys are giving me plenty of quotable material today.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Awesome post Daniel at one time or another in life prior to truly believing in ourselves…we lived with WHAT IFS… I did for many years. Thanks for sharing

  • Lorraine Menza /

    I really believe the “What If” syndrome is just an excuse to staying in the status quo. People do not like change; without change there is no growth!

  • […] You kept asking yourself what if it goes wrong or what if I fail. […]

  • Hi Daniel,

    Someone once said that the only thing to fear is fear itself. Fear is underrated by most people as a mere feeling that is part of their make up. If only they will discover how it steals their dreams from them.

    However, defeating the nine-head monster easier said that done. As you said, we’ve been there and we’ll still be there again. It takes immense resolution and a strong will to trump our fears.

    You’ve penned an interesting piece, Daniel.

    Have a great day.

    • I think that someone was Winston Churchill in the middle of the battle of Britain. Nine headed monster huh, that’s more than the hydra of Greek mythology but I can totally relate to your point. Resolution, or as I like to call it being indomitable, is just one of the many steps we need to take in our lives.

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