Are you living a ‘what if’ or ‘what is’ life?

Thrive Global reminded readers this morning that they are to live a “what is” life, rather than a “what if” life.

Life involves taking risks. I know I have wasted many years waiting for all my ducks to get in a row before I ventured out to do something great. While waiting for everything to line up, the opportunity evaporated. Today, I’m just happy that all my ducks are in the same pond.

“We must identify what is within our control. This allows us to consciously choose risks that help us innovate, influence, lead, liberate, actively contribute to the world, and create a life of incredible experiences and impact, rather than living in regret, ruminating over what could’ve been,” wrote Dr. Kristen Lee. “We can focus on what is possible, and work toward it so that we can offer ourselves fully to the world.”

Being contemplative in planning is important. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

The problem is that too many people believe they must have everything perfectly aligned before taking their first step. Perhaps too many gurus have sold us too many “10 steps to success” programs that we think we have to see every step of the journey from start to finish before we can even begin.

Consequently, people get into analysis paralysis where they accumulate more and more information, or establish strategies to counter every real or imagined obstacle they may encounter along the way. However, too many variables exist to be able to do that effectively.

A few years ago, I planned to drive from Heber Springs, Ark., to Stoughton, Wis. I had just wrapped up a work conference and was looking forward to visiting my daughters and grandchildren.

I knew how many miles I would need to drive and could calculate how frequently I would need to stop for gas. I looked at forecasts to determine if I’d encounter any severe weather and even checked to see where I should expect construction or traffic delays.

I filled the gas tank, grabbed a sandwich and soft drink, adjusted the temperature in the car and started playing a good audiobook. I knew what time I was going to arrive and hit the road.

Exactly 51 miles into the 669-mile trip, a distracted driver rear-ended me at a traffic light and totaled my car.

That’s life! Variables will happen and we need to expect them. But, I’d venture to say it’s often easier to navigate around obstacles than it is to predict where you’ll encounter them.

Thrive Global offered some tips to discern differences between living a “what if” life and one centered around what really is.

For example, a “what if” life fixates on past regrets, stays stuck in state of unsettledness and hindsight bias, embodying the fallacy that if only I’d done this or that, or if that awful thing didn’t happen to me things would’ve turned out better, or when this or that passes or happens, or some kind of Golden Ticket arrives, things will be fine.

Someone living a “what is” life is willing to take strategic microdoses of bravery, tolerate discomfort, integrate the discoveries, and forge ahead. He or she acknowledges difficult emotions and sensations, but refuses to let them interfere with actions that lead to growth. Yet, people like that remain curious and open to evolving learning processes.

In a few months, I will be 62 years old. If there is one thing I have learned during my lifetime, it is that the fastest route to regret is to focus on the “if come” rather than the highly-favorable outcome from stepping out on faith. Taking risks is almost always worth it.

In one of his podcasts, my mentor Vincent Pugliese urged people to “go fail at something cool.” That way, even if it doesn’t work out as you had hoped, you’ll have great memories and wonderful stories to tell.

Dr. Lee’s full article can be found at