Sitting Down To Answer “What If?”
I was walking around downtown Baños two nights ago. I was thinking about some new responsibilities I’d recently taken on, but I wasn’t thinking clearly.
Friends have given me money to invest in a new company, and they expect a return on their investment. I’m working with freelancers and an account manager, so I have less direct control in the business.
More responsibility. Less control. My mind was scampering between numerous worrying questions.
What if the freelancers bill too many hours?
What if a freelancer leaves unexpectedly mid-project?
What if we launch a product and it fails?
I kept cycling through these questions when I realized that while I was allowing myself to worry, I wasn’t finding any solutions.
I asked for a pen and paper in a nearby shop and, as quickly as I could, wrote out all the “What if?” questions I could think of. Nine in total.
Jogging home to the computer, I copied the questions onto my desktop and brainstormed solution one by one.
If a freelancer is clearly billing too many hours, give them a warning. If it continues, let them go.
We’ll cross-train all freelancers so that if a freelancer leaves, someone else will be there to take her place.
So long as we don’t invest more than $5,000 into any one product, even a total failure won’t hurt the business very much.
It was surprisingly easy to brainstorm these answers. With my thoughts written down on paper, I was able to relax. I didn’t need to juggle the mess inside my head.
If You Catch Yourself Asking “What If…?”
Stop repeating the question in your head. Quickly write it down on the closest scrap of paper you can find. This clarifies exactly what the problem is and it will be easy to analyze potential solutions.
Your thoughts that were bouncing around your head are trapped as physical words on the page. You can ‘X’ out the bad ones and ‘Circle’ the ideas you want to put into action. You can refer back to this list years in the future.
If you catch yourself worrying about “What if this?” or “What if that?” keep the question in mind just long enough to grab a piece of paper. Write out the question and then ask “Really, Let’s figure this out. What will I do if X happens?”