The Good “If” and the Bad “If”

“If” can be a powerful word.

I recently watched a documentary about a football coach who lost his parents and sister in a car crash. Years later, he was still blaming himself. “If I wasn’t playing in that game, they wouldn’t have been in the car to come see me and maybe they’d still be here.”

This comment made me so sad for him.

The bad “If” is when you use the word to lament the past. When used to berate yourself over things you can’t control or change, “If” can lead to damage and torture.

“If I had taken that other job, I would have been happier.”

“If I had not spent all that money on that trip, I’d have the money to buy a new computer.”

“If only I’d been home, he would have survived the stroke.”

This is neither helpful nor productive. True, we need to learn from our mistakes so we don’t repeat them, but 9 times out of 10, this type of “If-ing” is just ridiculous. How can you predict the future? How can you think you can stop a speeding train or the death of a loved one or an unexpected layoff? You can’t.

I think we do this to fool ourselves into thinking we have control over certain events. But the truth is we don’t. All we can do is prepare for the future as best we can with the information we have at hand. That’s where the Good “If” comes in.

Good “If’s” are those that help you plan for future opportunity:

“If I buy emergency supplies, we’ll be safe during the power outage.”

“If I plan all my errands, I can make the most efficient use of my time today.”

“If I create a strong brand and marketing plan now, I can reach my business goals this year.”

See? Much more productive, proactive and useful.

“If” looks much better in front of you rather than behind you (Tweet this!)

Be mindful of how you use the word “If.” Those two little letters can cause a whole hot mess of despair– or they can open up infinite possibilities.

Photo credit: TheNext28Days on Flickr

Your Big “If”

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