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The Power of "What If?"

Mindset Made Simple Tip #87 - Watch or listen HERE.

I was all “WOOP”ed up last week.

After writing my tip, I had the opportunity to present the tool to a group of professionals working with people trying to improve their lives by skilling up or changing their careers in the Appalachian counties of Ohio. Jobs are scarce in this area and one person changing their education level can impact six others in their family. The power of one change is incredible!

My charge in the presentation was to help these professionals rethink the way they are helping their clients make lasting change. The problem is when we look ahead to what we want, we often skip right over the issues that may trip us up, as we discussed last week.

This is where WOOP came in. Getting grip on reality is vital to us performing at our best.

Fast forward to later that same day. I spent an hour talking with a high school softball team about things that keep us from being our best.

I had the athletes write down their thoughts heading into a big play, test or challenge.

The comments were all too familiar.

They are the same as the things that exist in my head, too! And if I had to put money on it, I’d be they exist in your mind as well!

Remember my high-level soccer player’s comment when asked what she thinks then the goal is wide open?

“What if I miss?” I came right back with “what if you drive it into the back of the net?

Why is it that we go straight to those “what if I’s”?

Think about your “What If Is”. How often do you go into something saying “what if I blow this out of the water?”

You may remember my son’s skateboarding example as he was anxious about going down a small hill. “What if I fall?” he said. I said, “what if you skate it perfectly? It will be epic?” (What mom encourages this stuff 😊).

Becoming aware of the questions we ask ourselves can be very helpful to building a championship mindset. Champions know that everything will not go their way. However, they prime their minds for the good as opposed to focusing solely on the outcomes they want to avoid.

Atomic Habits author James Clear agrees. In this week’s 3-2-1 Thursdays, he says "awareness is often enough to motivate change. Simply tracking your food intake will motivate you to alter it. Merely writing down your problems may spark ideas for possible solutions.”

He goes on to say that “the process starts with seeing reality clearly."

Just like in WOOP, we are looking at reality.

The reality is that we often “what if” ourselves right out of changing and growing…and excelling!

If we can notice our “what if I” statements and replace them with the other side of those “what if Is”, we see a more balanced reality.

Yes, the soccer player may miss, and my son may fall. But going into a challenge with those pictures in our heads is not helpful to our performance.

Think of it this way. If you are on a skateboard and anticipating a fall, what is your body doing? It will be much more rigid than the guy who is flowing down the hill, enjoying the thrill of the ride.

The same goes for our soccer player. Her “what if I miss” thought becomes a picture in her head and it tells her body to “be careful.” In this case, careful usually equals tight and tight muscles are not quick or efficient muscles.

Our “what if I” statements can set us up for success or failure. We get to choose.

Do we want pictures of those “what ifs”…the ones that make us play tight and tentative to avoid the catastrophic image we have painted in our mind?

Or do we want pictures of the “WHAT IFs” that prime our brains for success?

Remember, the words we use predict and perpetuate our performance.

Our words become the pictures of our performance that we see as we set up to the plate, the foul line or the ball.

So, what if our dreams come true? What if we play to our potential? What if it does go as planned?

We must indeed be realistic and “pre-decide” what we are going to do if things don’t go our way

But catastrophizing from the beginning without considering that things can go well is not helping us perform at our best.

Switching from non-productive to productive “what if I” statements seems so simple. But just like everything else, it takes practice.

Download the What If I? Exercise worksheet HERE and help your team become more aware of the reality of what is to come!

What if we could make this simple switch? The power of this one change may be as impactful as the changes those in Appalachia are making for themselves and their families!

Thoughts become things and as the legendary John Wooden said, “little things make big things happen!”

What if this works?

Have a great week!


P.S. What if I helped your team become more mentally prepared to perform?

Call today and let’s set a plan that fits your team. Don’t have the budget for a full program right now? Schedule a team session today or check out my online courses at

Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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