I just returned from a fantastic vacation on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Since my wife is training to walk the Oklahoma City Marathon in a few weeks, I joined her every day for some pretty lengthy training walks (like 8 miles) on the beach. That’s a lot of sand between your toes.
Like we often do during walks on the beach, we talked a lot about our dreams and our “bucket lists”. The more we talked, the more we began to realize that one of our biggest shared dreams is actually quite reachable — not twenty years from now, but twenty days from now…if we really want to make it happen.
We got really excited.
Our casual conversations quickly turned into Bucket List Achievement Strategies and Tactics discussions, which I coined in my head as “BLAST” sessions (seriously considering trademarking that puppy). Semi-concrete plans came together rapidly and it became obvious that we were both serious about pursuing this particular dream sooner than later.
Then…I panicked, and I started backing down from the dream.
I’m a pretty ambitious guy, so why would I panic thinking about achieving a dream, especially one that finally seems relatively easy to achieve? To be honest, I didn’t have an answer right away. It took another long walk on the beach and another long conversation with my wife — the best sounding board in the whole wide world — to discover why.
I was afraid of the what ifs. If I achieve a dream, especially a big one, what happens then? I was actually afraid of two very specific what ifs:
1. What if I achieve my dream and it’s not as awesome as I thought it would be? That would be quite disappointing, don’t you think?
2. What if I achieve my dream and I can’t dream up another one? That would be a pretty horrible way to live out several more decades.
As I talked these thoughts out I discovered just how much I’ve let these two what ifs limit my ambitions and achievements. To be honest, admitting this makes me feel kind of silly and weak-minded. But that’s often a stop on the way to feeling powerful, hopeful, and limitless. At least it always has been for me.
How did I get past the fear? By tapping into the thought that I will only know what I can see from the top of the mountain by standing at the peak. In other words, the only way to answer to my two what ifs is to go after my dream, achieve it, and find out for myself. Intellectually, it seems easy and I’m sure I’ll be ok. Roadblocks are always way more emotional than logical.
Another walk on the beach, another BLAST session with that wonderful woman, and I decided to give up my what ifs. Oh, I might have to beat them into submission again in the future, but for now I think I’ve got them whipped. And boy am I excited.
I’m pretty sure my bucket list is going to need a bigger bucket.
Got any what ifs holding you back? Leave a reply and let ’em go.