When I decided to write a novel in December, I asked, what if I stopped writing and editing books for others and wrote for me… I’ll confess I did have some stuff in my head to get over (we do, don’t we?), but gradually as I got used to this idea I felt increasingly excited. This question helped me move forward to do something I’d only dreamed of and into a new world of creativity and imagination.
It also made me think about what I would love to do now that I wasn’t book coaching. That was scary as my identity had been tied to books for over 13 years. However, I did run several personal growth/development programs during those years. I loved these and adored supporting others through the tricky stuff I’d been through. But, and this is probably what many people do, I returned to my comfort zone.
Writing about comfort zones and discovering your zone of brilliance also helped with the much-needed kick up the bum!
The what-if question reminded me of my NLP training all those years ago. The facilitator used the phrase I wonder endlessly. Even today, when I hear, I wonder, it makes me reach for my journal to ask what-if questions and explore.
What-if questions can be difficult to answer unless you are in a quiet space (at least for me) and willing to allow your imagination to wander. This can lead to interesting discoveries that may never have occurred to you before.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good journaling session with a juicy question (see below). But many people find it hard to journal or meditate or are willing to take time out to be in Mother Nature. Not exploring and going on adventures with your imagination could prevent you from discovering new experiences. So give yourself permission and just be.
By opening your mind and asking “what if” or I wonder you can challenge your assumptions, beliefs, and (possibly perceived) limitations and find new ways to approach problems and opportunities creatively.
When you open your mind, you open new doors to new possibilities for yourself and new opportunities to help others. Roy T. Bennett
Why ask what-if questions
Asking “what if” is powerful for discovering stuff. It allows us to explore our values, interests, and passions and identify areas where we may want to make changes or take risks (little ones for me, please). By considering different possibilities, we can gain new insights and perspectives that help us better understand ourselves and the world around us.
Do you take quiet time?
But first, how often do you give yourself permission for quiet time? How often do you pursue alone time? How often do you sit and contemplate the sheer thingy of it all? What has to happen for you to give yourself some quiet time?
I know it’s easier said than done when you are whizzing around like a headless chicken (apologies to the chicken).
What does your normal evening look like? Does it revolve around cooking dinner after rushing home following your work day? Do you dash around some more to feed the children, walk the dogs or spend time with your partner? Perhaps you find yourself cleaning up, folding laundry (who does that?), or trying to watch Netflix to tune out the noise around you or in your head.
If this sounds familiar, you might find your stress levels rising. When this happens, your body will tell you. My body’s go-to is waking up in the early hours. Yours might be emotional eating, binge drinking or stomach issues, among many other things. Your internal dialogue may become a roaring buzz getting louder until you feel you could snap. And as a result, you simply do not know how to be quiet and sit in silence.
Sadly this becomes a never-ending circle of noise and distraction. So if this is you, what if questions are going to help.
Using quiet time to prepare for possibilities
One of the most important benefits of quiet time is that it allows us to clear our minds of distractions and clutter and allow us to open to possibilities. We are constantly bombarded with information, from social media updates to news headlines, and it can be challenging to filter through it all. However, by taking a few moments to quiet the noise, we can begin to focus on what truly matters and discover ideas that might have been buried under the clutter.
Quiet time also helps us to access our intuition and inner wisdom. When we’re in a calm and reflective state, we’re better able to listen to our inner voice and connect with our deepest desires. This can help us make decisions that align with our authentic selves and move us closer to what we want.
Another key benefit of quiet time is that it allows us to connect with our creativity. This is me. I have to have silence when working. Some people love noise and chaos, but that would drive me insane. I have to journal and be outside often. Because when I’m relaxed, I am more open to new ideas and possibilities. This helps me to break through creative blocks and discover new ways of approaching problems.
Finally, quiet time can help us cultivate a sense of peace and balance. Getting caught up in stress and anxiety can be easy when constantly on the go. By taking a few moments to pause and reflect, we can recentre ourselves and approach our daily tasks with greater ease and clarity.
Here are some ideas, or aka the three things I do…
Spend some time meditating to be open to possibilities
If you already enjoy meditation, this may be your best choice. It is an excellent opportunity to sit with your breath, get quiet, and listen to your inner desires in a way that life is often too chaotic to allow.
I love Insight Timer because there is so much choice. If I’m in a guided meditation mood and can’t sleep, I head straight to my favourites. Often I love to have calm music.
Another favourite is Brain.fm, because not only is there music for relation, but they have focus pieces which I use to help me with being calmingly productive.
What you could do is ask your what-if question in your journal. Then, put on a meditative piece for a short time. Even 10 minutes will do. Then come back to the question and write. I wonder what you will discover?
Open your eyes, breathe in the fresh dawn air and, with it, all the possibilities this new day may bring. Stewart Stafford
I walk four times a time with my furry friends to unscramble my head and be in nature. Being in the fresh air and natural beauty and embracing the peacefulness of nature provide a calming effect, helping to boost your mood and overall well-being. I am addicted to being outside. I feel blessed to have every opportunity to connect with the natural world.
Journal and expand your words into possibilities
Naturally, I would suggest this. I adore journaling and have books on journaling and writing to heal.
Take time away from everyone and everything, sit with a pen and pad, and just write it all out. Write your what-if question, free-write, and let your feelings flow onto the page. The benefit of journaling is you can look back on what you have written to look for patterns that may highlight desires you didn’t realise you had.
My fave place is in bed, with the furries gently snoozing by my side. This is where I can open my mind to what if and wonder.
Open your mind to possibilities and ask what if
Having that quiet time, especially journaling, helps you to open your mind to all possibilities. It’s your opportunity to ask what if and being prepared for what comes through. Amazing ideas pop up when I journal in the morning and go for a walk. Try these…
What if and possibilities journal prompts
- What if I allowed myself to fully embrace my passions and pursue them however I desired? What would that look like?
- What if I let go of all my fears and doubts? How would that change my life and the decisions I make?
- What if I took a completely different path in life? Where would that path lead me?
- What if I allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest with others? How would my relationships change?
- What if I started living in the present moment instead of always worrying about the future? How would that impact my life?
- What if I believed in myself and my abilities more? How would that change the way I approach challenges and opportunities?
- What if I stopped caring so much about what others think of me? How would that change my behaviour and interactions with others?
- What if I let go of past grudges and resentments? How would that affect my mental and emotional well-being?
- What if I had unlimited resources and time? What would I do with my life, and how would I make a difference?
- What if today I embraced all that I am and then did that every day for 101 days? What would my life look like in 101 days?
Other things to try to open your mind to possibilities
Challenge your assumptions
Identify your deeply held beliefs and assumptions about yourself and the world around you, and question them. Ask yourself if they are truly serving you or if they are holding you back. What if I challenge the assumption? How would my life change?
Recognise that the future is unpredictable and embrace the unknown. Instead of fearing change, view it as an opportunity for growth and discovery. What would happen if I embraced uncertainty? Where would that take me?
Surround yourself with diversity
Seek out people and experiences that are different from your own. This can help you broaden your perspective and challenge your assumptions. What if I changed my perspective by being with different kinds of people?
Aside from asking what-if questions, explore new ideas, and challenge yourself to think outside the box. Being open and curious allows you to discover new possibilities and opportunities you may have never considered.
Slow down, take quiet time, and ask yourself what-if questions. Really challenge yourself. The outcome will be that you start to show up better for yourself. You will also build your self-worth and confidence because you will feel better when you make decisions from a place of greater self-awareness.
A final word. You will feel much calmer and more content when you have time alone to focus on yourself, and with any luck, you will begin practising more self-care.
All in all, quiet time rocks!
So, what are you waiting for?