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« The Possibility Agenda | Ask the Expert: Dorothy Breininger »
Tuesday
Oct012013

What If?

What becomes possible when we shift our thinking to the “what if” mode? I’m talking about letting go and allowing ideas to generate without judgment or negative commentary or disparaging remarks. Where will your thoughts take you?

In truth, permitting yourself to dream and allowing the “what ifs” to surface can be challenging for some. Is it for you?

Enjoy some space to explore...

 

 

 

Do you need help getting your “what if” juices flowing?  If so, try one of these strategies:

1. Nature Nudge – Being outside, especially this time of year when the fall leaves are changing color, helps us expand our thinking. On several recent outside jaunts, it was impossible not to feel inspired by the views around me. The expansiveness of nature’s beauty opened my mind to larger, unencumbered thinking. Being surrounded by the fresh air and blue skies allowed me to breathe in positivity.

 

2. People Nudge – Having stimulating conversations with your people (family, friends, or colleagues) is a great way of encouraging the “what if?” mode. Being around others that are thinking big and imagining what’s possible can inspire us to expand beyond our current constraints. I just returned from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) conference in Denver where I had the opportunity to exchange ideas with wonderful colleagues from around the world. It was definitely a “what if?” idea booster.

 

3. Paper Nudge – Allow your inner thoughts to be captured on paper. This is another way to shift into the possibility-thinking mode. If paper isn’t your medium, try other ways to download your ideas like using a voice recorder or computer. I use a combination of techniques including writing with a pen in my journal, typing on a keyboard, and talking out loud with others.

 

There are many other ways to get the “what if” thoughts flowing. Have you tried, organizing your space, traveling, exercising, creating, showering, or reading? What actions work for you? What’s possible this season? Come join the conversation. 

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Reader Comments (14)

It's all about possibilities when you let go of judgment. Giving ourselves permission is often the biggest obstacle. Thanks for sharing strategies for letting go.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- That "J" word can be a huge obstacle. It's so easy to second guess, demotivate, and let those negative thoughts run through our minds...by letting go of all that, we open the door to possibility thinking. Thank YOU for being here and adding so much to this community.

October 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

That's one of my favorite questions:-) Thank you for putting it out there. It's a great way to begin the creative flow of ideas and, you're right, Autumn is a great time of the year to let go and let be.

One of my favorite ways to humor my what ifs is to get in the car and go for a long drive; no destination in mind. I have my tape recorder ready and when something comes up, I begin to talk to myself. Who better to listen anyway?

xoxo

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

It is surprisingly difficult to let ideas flow without shooting them down as impractical, impossible, etc. Capturing ideas as they percolate is critical.. there is plenty of time later to evaluate and strategize!

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

Feeling all the wisdom coming through. So great to "hear" your voices.

@Yota- I just noticed some "what if" tweets you shared and can see why this is one of your favorite questions. It just opens that door WIDE, doesn't it? I love your strategy to "humor" your what ifs...just brilliant...allowing the road to call you ahead with no destination in mind. So apt...you allow the non-destination to get your possibility thinking flowing.

@Seana- You are so right about the "surprisingly difficult" part. It's an art to be non-critical when we're presented with new ideas whether they are our own or someone else's. I'm working on getting better at this. I view it as one of the essential skills.

October 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Regarding the second point "People Nudge" we need to be sure we are having a nurturing conversation with people who like encourage us, rather than people who say, "you know it's too risky, it's too much work, I don't know if I were you I'll remain in the same spot" We all have people that kind in our lives and we love them, but for this type of reassuring exercise we must talk with those who think more open, I might say.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

Linda, I love the idea of "what if" because it appeals to a broader thought process. The possibilities are endless. In particular, I think it's a fabulous "ice breaker" when approaching our clients with a difficult task. Framing it in this way allows them to answer the question with less confrontation and no judgement. And certainly for myself, "what if" is a great exercise for some honest and personal exploration. Thanks for sharing this insightful perspective. A great way to kick off October!

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Borg

@Nacho- Yes. Surrounding yourself with people that are "open" to thinking big, talking about ideas, encouraging that type of conversation is so helpful for these "what if" conversations. I love being around big picture thinkers because it inspires me to consider more possibilities and stretch.

@Nancy- Interesting idea of using the "what if" question as an ice breaker for a difficult task. As you said, the question itself has no judgment...it's in our responses that we can run into challenges. But if we help to encourage that open thinking and suspend the critic, it can be a useful strategy for our clients and selves.

October 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, your pictures of nature and this post are a wonderful "reminder" for me to take a break and explore the beautiful outdoors to shake off the dust from routine, explore new ways of looking at things and open myself to "what ifs". And, I love Seana's comment on how easy we put something down. She's right: we'll have plenty of time later to review what's needed.
Great post!

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Helena- Just the other day, as we were enjoying the gorgeous fall weather, I thought of you....realizing that in San Diego, this is what is was like almost every day. I thought about how much you must be enjoying your days there. Whether we're in New York, California, or another corner of the world, there is beauty to be discovered outside. Nature has a restorative aspect. It also brings a certain expansiveness to us. Its beauty is immense and deep, which connects and encourages us. Ponder first. Evaluate later.

October 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks for this Linda- very thought provoking. I think part of this is the creative process where we don't always know the outcome, but it helps us get in touch with our authentic selves. I've recently started to cultivate my own creativity which ironically makes me more grounded in myself, but also inspired for more possibilities. I am also gravitating to those others who cultivate creativity in their own lives - its unpredictable but interesting and exciting!

October 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Deinstadt

Andrea- There's no questions that creativity is beneath all of this...and finding ways to allow that creativity to flow is key. The "nudges" in whatever form they take are essential.

I'm excited for you and the journey you're on...discovering or RE-discovering your creativity through writing, basket-weaving and more. Happy travels!

October 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love this question Linda "What if...?" One place I really enjoy 'what ifing" is at the park when I'm walking my dog Louie. In mid to late October in Austin, the weather finally starts to cool down a bit & I can walk all times of day in the park. It's not too hot, the air is fresh & the sky is bright blue with expanses of hills to enjoy as we walk & I "what if." My mind is free to wander as we walk among the splendor of the hill country. Louie is always a very willing, happy walking companion who might be "what ifing" too.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRandi Lyman

Randi- I love the image you paint of walking in the beautiful Austin hills with your wonderful buddy, Louieā€¦pondering the "what ifs." When we allow ourselves to the quiet the mind, it's amazing what we begin to hear. Thank you for sharing your "what ifing" adventures with us. Just beautiful!

October 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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