If you asked yourself, “What if?” how would you answer? Where would your imagination take you? Jim Palmer asked that question and started looking at his life. He looked closely at the sand, flowing freely through an hourglass and knew it would eventually run out. That’s when he started asking “What if?” of his own life. His answer led to him selling his home and living on a thirty-foot boat.
Exploring hypothetical scenarios through “What if?” questions can help us determine different possibilities and potential outcomes when asking, “What’s next?” even if they seem outlandish at first. After selling their home, Jim and his wife made plans to live on a boat for a year. His wife left her high-pressure job to do so. One year grew into five years, traveling 12,000 miles. They traded practical and predictable for adventure and excitement. Their plan worked, though they had plenty of challenges to overcome. Now back on dry land, he has authored a number of books that are widely read, and his coaching business has expanded. Using a bit of his story, we cover five steps to help answer the question, “What if?”
One: Define What Holds you Back
Resistance to change is a big part of what holds people back. Change and transition is hard and even fearful for many. Asking “What if?” can bring thoughts like, “What if I run out of money?” or “What if I completely fail?” Fear of the unknown can be a deterrent – it’s nice to know what lies around the next corner. Many people are more comfortable with the familiar, even if it’s not in their best interest.
Lack of confidence, doubting skills, knowledge or talents is another large hinderance. Negative self-talk and self-doubt are huge factors for many. In the children’s book, There’s a Monster Under My Bed, Simon shines a flashlight under his bed to discover what is hiding there, even though he was scared. Sometimes we have to do the same—shine a flashlight on what is lurking in our thoughts and holding us back! Once it is defined, we can overcome it.
Two: Explore the Possibilities
During the shutdowns of the past years, many figured out that their work was not location-dependent—and they liked it! There were those that made the decision that working remotely was more suitable for the lifestyle they desired. The numbers are confirming this. According to WFH Research, a data-collection project, six times more work was happening remotely in January 2023 than in January 2019. After asking “What if?” broadening your perspective by exploring different possibilities for work can expose one to new ideas, experiences and perspectives. This process of exploring possibilities is also a prompt to exploring creativity.
Creative problem solving becomes a necessity, especially when making a lifestyle change. When faced with a new problem, exploring possibilities encourages growth and development in new areas for a solution. To run a coaching business from a boat took Jim learning how to set up portable Wi-fi units, purchasing data plans and understanding where best to schedule meetings when at sea. But he found it was possible and he did it!
Three: What Do you Want your Life to Look Like?
Sometimes a wake-up call is what it takes to shake one up. Some face a health crisis such as cancer, a career change or even boredom. Many speak about creating a bigger impact, especially at the halftime of life, but to do so may take making a lifestyle change. Jim decided he wanted to run his coaching business three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so they could travel on the boat the other days. The flexibility to visit small towns off the east coast of the U.S. was of great value to him. Also, he determined that having guests on the boat was a priority. All of this became possible with a good plan he put in place.
Reflecting on core values and beliefs is a huge part of creating a clear vision of a future. In Stop Circling, I wrote a full chapter on core values included in the appendix. I noted two different value areas to consider: faith and character. Both are important elements in creating and living a purpose-filled life. It is worth going through the process in defining each value area and I encourage everyone to take the time to do so.
Four: Create a Plan
After reviewing values as well as possibilities, it’s time to prioritize goals and actions that are most important. These should be closely aligned with a clearly defined purpose. It’s important to be clear. When traveling, no one wants to get on an airplane with no destination in mind. For a flight to be as smooth as possible and arrive at a determined destination, a specific flight plan is needed. A plan may require adjustments and change but the basic goal should be in place, even with rerouting.
Flexibility needs to be a part of a solution, especially for an entrepreneur. Along with a decision to move to a location that experiences changing weather conditions, there is a strong possibility of a power outage or interruption. Internet may go down and there may be other unexpected challenges. A good plan needs to allow for situations that are unplanned. For those situations, a backup generator and additional power supply allows for emergencies for any business needing to have online access. Everyone knows that emergencies happen and even if there’s no way to avoid them, at least plan for options! It will at least lower the stress.
Five: Overcome Challenges and Say "Yes!"
Challenges will come—that is certain. However, as each challenge is clearly defined, it’s possible to brainstorm potential solutions. Even if a plan has been created, outline specific backup options to create the anticipated outcome. The book Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, PhD talks about creating very small habits or steps that will eventually lead to a large change. The same principle of taking small steps is true of goals. Create very small mini-goals to make a change and to achieve a larger goal. (FREE: Goal Setting Worksheets)
Overcoming challenges takes time, effort and persistence, but also builds resilience and adaptability. This leads to a boost in confidence and self-esteem. Who knows, as you start building your dream, you may be more willing to take on new and additional challenges in the future! But you have to first say “Yes!”
Tiny Habits as a way of Life with Linda Fogg Phillips
Five Principles for Intentional Living and Purpose at Halftime
Dream a Little Dream: Define Your Dream Job and Schedule
The Summit: Journey to Hero Mountain
Stop Circling: Steps to Escape Endless Roundabouts
Women at Halftime: Principles for Producing Your Successful Second Half
- about JIM Palmer
Captain Jim is the founder of the Dream Business Academy, a live business building seminar, and Dream Business Mastermind and Coaching Program. he is a video marketer and podcaster who has taught thousands of entrepreneurs both virtually and one-on-one in his mastermind and coaching programs. He's written and published seven books about marketing and business building strategies and has started and grown multiple six figure businesses.
Exploring hypothetical scenarios through “What if?” questions can help us determine different possibilities and potential outcomes when asking, “What’s next?”
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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