Living in the Land of What-Ifs

Living in the Land of What-Ifs

What if you won the lottery?

What if you got a lucky break?

What if someone unexpectedly discovers your talent and sings your praise to the world?

What if you could live abroad forever?

What if there were no responsibilities?

I can’t wait until…

What if…



A day doesn’t go by that these phrases wouldn’t pass my lips. What if… Imagine… I can’t wait until…

Be it an upcoming holiday, a day off, paying down a debt or until the weather warms up again – every day I look forward to something.

Looking forward isn’t a problem. I think having something to look forward to is important. Along with having meaningful work, strong relationships and faith, I think having something to look forward to is essential to our contentment.

The problem, rather, is living in the land of Imagine, What If, and I Can’t Wait Until…

Spending an inordinate amount of time dwelling on these thoughts is telling us that the present – whatever is happening right in this moment – is not good enough.

You say:

“Wouldn’t it be great to have a nicer house.” And your subconscious hears, “This house is not good enough.”

“Imagine how much freedom we would have if we could work from home.” You think, “The job I have now is unsatisfactory.”

These issues may well be valid, and I have no problem with working towards a particular goal or reward. But talking in theoretical terms – imagine, wouldn’t it be great, what if – is not working towards those goals. It’s simply making you feel discontent, dissatisfied and disappointed in your efforts.

Simply Listen

Over the next day or two, listen for those phrases in your own thoughts and words, and observe.

How do you arrive at that thought and how do you feel after it? Is it a positive for you to live in the future? Or do you find yourself dissatisfied with your present as a result?

And instead of allowing those thoughts to multiply and blossom, start to bring yourself back to the present, a place of gratitude or mindfulness.

“A nicer house would be great, but this place is warm, dry, secure and happy. If we do want a nicer place, what are we going to do about it?”

“I’d love to find a job that allowed me to work from home. This job, however is great for these reasons – regular paycheck, health insurance, flexible hours, pleasant office, good colleagues.”

It’s easy to live in the Land of What-Ifs. It doesn’t require us to make changes or take responsibility. It allows us to live in a future that may not ever come to life. Yes, it’s also the home of daydreams, but if you find those daydreams taking over, or making your real life seem disappointing, then it’s time to move on.

Instead, try to live most of your days in the land of enough.


7 Responses to Living in the Land of What-Ifs

  1. My experience is that when I spend my time on “what if” – I miss the opportunities that are right before me. I miss the blessings that come in a differently shaped package than I recognize. I am not satisfied with the amazing amount that life has afforded me already and everything continues on in a beautiful way, and I miss it all because I am consumed with an imaginary thing that will never be real if I can’t be present for today. Roof, food, family, friends, enough is right in front of me.

    This is a great reminder! =)

  2. Very insightful, as always, Brooke.

    Staying content in the present was extremely difficult, before I left my old situation–in fact, in the end, I completely failed at it! :-( But now that we’re here, in our new apartment in Houston, people keep asking us about our NEXT steps. I tell them that yes, we do plan on living aboard, eventually, but, for now, we’re enjoying this.

  3. So easy to roll around and indulge in the Land of What ifs. Although I do find it’s the fun part of goal setting. If I didn’t head to the Land of What ifs every now and then my hard work would just seem like hard work all the time, forever. I like to let myself indulge in the day dreaming sometimes but I consciously give myself a time limit and then say ‘right, back to reality and the process of getting to the daydream.’

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