As we all know, nothing in life is certain. If the years of the pandemic reinforced any message, it was that the best laid plans can be demolished without warning. As a consequence of this uncertainty, we all need to have a degree of flexibility as rigid thinking can lead to being frustrated, at the very least, or at worst, seemingly cornered. But there is always a way out.
The modern world is a different place. Previously, it was a common experience to remain with one employer for decades before retiring with a gold watch in one hand and a pension cheque in the other. Today, we are faced with the reality of less stability in our current employment, while our kids are told that they will have myriad changes in their career throughout their working life. It is fraught with potential disappointment to confine ourselves to a single path without looking left and right of arc. True, sometimes a single-minded focus is needed to achieve a particular goal but even so, no single objective is an end to our journey. To the contrary, I have known those who have achieved their life goals at an early age and found themselves asking, “What’s next?” It’s a dilemma that often confronts elite sportspeople. Whether a major life landmark has been reached or we are just pacing ourselves on the treadmill, it’s worthwhile to ask ourselves, “What if?” That one question may take on a sense of dread, leading to a “worst case” plan. However, it is also a question that can herald new opportunities. The important thing is to ask it.
Musicians rehearse and sportspeople visualise as a means of being prepared. By asking “What if?”, we can also be better prepared and less prone to being startled when life throws a curve ball.
What if I lost my job?
What if I had a medical issue?
What if I could do that one thing I have always dreamed of?
What if I could go anywhere in the world?
Good or bad, short term or long term, we should challenge ourselves and at least form a loose strategy. The choice to execute that conceived plan is sometimes out of our hands and on other occasions it takes a leap of faith. That leap of faith can be scary and also needs to be well considered. (I call it the Gillian Anderson Principle – but that’s for the next blog post)
Rather than a burden, asking “What if?”, can be reassuring or exciting – or both. In a world that seems to be changing at pace, having a Plan B is a wise strategy and can be enjoyable to pursue. For me, the discovery of writing in the wake of an airline collapse has been amazing and that all began by asking, “What if?”.