What If?

by Krantcents · 26 comments

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Many years ago, I used to do “what if” scenarios. As I get older, I find I reflect on my decisions much more and often do “what if” scenarios as a way to plan for the future. I think my ability to plan well helped me achieve or accomplish much more than others. After all, how do you improve your decision making or judgment if you do not reflect on your decisions? Do you reflect on your decisions? 

Why the ending matters?

I often see my wife turn to the end of a book to see ho w it ends. When I ask her why she would want to know the ending before you start reading the book, she responds that it make a difference!  I never understood that thinking until I got much older. I have roughly thirty (30) years left and I am in no hurry to get there, but I want to know how I will be remembered? Will it my life’s work with children, personal accomplishments, sense of humor or family? I have often thought about writing my eulogy, but it seems too vane!

Turning this exercise into something less vane and more positive, I thought about what I can do in my life that was worthy of remembering. As I think about where I am in my life, I think about changes and if they proved out to be good or bad. Usually, it is neither! It falls into the gray area of maybe it would have made certain things better, but I will never know. That is one of the problems of doing “what if” scenarios. You can only guess if it would turn out better. Could I have made a better decision?

Question everything?

What if I were a better student? What if I would have waited longer to get married? What if I would have done this or that? I sometimes think it is a worthless exercise because I cannot change the outcome! It is not worthless because I will make better decisions next time. It is part of learning from your mistakes and improving your decision making abilities. I know there are a lot of great scientists and business people who use their imagination with what if scenarios to create great things. You can too!

Steve Jobs who is thought of one of the greatest innovators will be remembered for his accomplishments and much more! He is often quoted for his 2005 Stanford commencement speech where he says, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” He followed his own advice by changing our daily lives in many ways thanks to his products. He kept asking questions and it helped him develop more innovative solutions. It also allowed him to fail and ultimately succeed. A lesser known part of the same speech was something I embraced much earlier.

Death and Taxes is guaranteed!

In the same 2005 Stanford speech, he said “if you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It reminds me of the broken clock quote of “a broken clock is right twice a day.” Time is something we never have enough of and yet we squander it so easily. We squander it when we are young and when we realize how important tit I s, we are generally much older. Then we regret it! I often told me children to make every day count by applying your best effort. I often give the same advice to my students too.

I still question everything

After a lifetime of parenting, teaching and consulting, I realize I can only give advice! It is still up to the other party to take the advice. Advice such as investing in yourself by getting a good education, saving and investing for the future or staying out of debt is still up to the individual. Yes, I am reflecting on giving advice, teaching and my future. I look back on my decisions to learn how to make better decisions. I evaluate my mistakes and accomplishments to improve my decisions.

I wrote an article called Doing Your Resume Backwards! which addresses planning your future so you can include it on your resume. I am planning my eulogy so I can plan my future. It may be vane or just a way to motivate better results! Either way, I want to do more and “stay hungry, stay foolish.” How do you think about your future or legacy? Do you do “what if” scenarios to reflect on your accomplishments or failures? Perhaps, the better question is do you think about your future? Not five (5) or ten (10) years out, but much longer such as your lifetime or time left?

Final thoughts

“What if” questions make me reflect on my decisions! I sometimes think about what if I did things differently, but more often think about how to make better decisions. It all starts with making goo well thought decisions and a lot of planning. When my students make bad choices I ask them why they did that. They often say, “I don’t know.” I realize that is a typical teenage response, but it does describe how a lot of people do not think before they act. “What if” scenarios are a great way to plan and reflect on your decisions?

Photo by:  Flickr

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