We all remember the first time our kindergarten teacher asked us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We likely jumped out of our seat and with wide eyes and furious hand gestures declared our rightful place in a specific profession. As five-year-olds, we naturally aimed high, fully believing we could step into the role of star or hero. We were prima ballerinas and firefighters and astronauts and movie stars and presidents and olympians. And the teacher would receive our sincere response with a big smile on their face and say, “How wonderful! Anything is possible.”
As we grew, this question was asked more frequently and now carried the heavy weight of expectation. There was practicality, safety, security and realism markedly present as editors. As a result, our responses became less aspirational and less connected to our essence. But this safer response made others nod in approval, which in turn made us feel like maybe we were actually on the right track. And so we kept going full speed ahead, often failing to slow down and take notice of the alternate routes that constantly intersect our path.
So how do we get reconnected to the power of possibility that was ubiquitous in our childhood? We ask big questions that allow inspired answers to surface. These inspired answers have the potential to ignite the fuel of our emotions, which will ultimately propel us to break through the fear present during the risk-taking required to manifest our dreams.
As Thomas Berger, the American novelist said, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”
Here is a simple process leveraging the big question “What if?” to support you in uncovering (or more likely, rediscovering) what it is you desire in your professional life.
Step 1: Set the mood. Find a private, quiet space that inspires you. Put on music, get a glass of wine or cup of tea and light some candles.
Step 2: Let your mind be quiet. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Allow your attention to drop from the center of your head to the center of your heart.
Step 3: Listen for your answers. On a piece of paper, write down each of these questions leaving plenty of space to record your answers. Ask yourself the first question out loud, then write down your unfiltered response. It doesn’t need to be perfect or rational or clear. Just let it flow from your heart to your pen naturally. Repeat this process for each question. Take your time and allow yourself to be fully present. Withhold any judgment or expectation — there is no right or wrong here.
- What if I did what I really love?
- What if it didn’t have to be perfect?
- What if I had the time?
- What if I had the money?
- What if I had the skills?
- What if I asked for help?
- What if I felt fully supported by my partner/family/friends?
- What if I just tried “it” out for a day/week/month/year?
- What if success was inevitable?
- What if my calling is looking for me too?
Step 4: Take note. What surprised you in your answers? What was fairly obvious? What fears surfaced? What possibilities excited you most?
Step 5: Move to action. Change is created by a few big decisions and continuous action. Based on your responses, determine one massive action step to start to shift your current professional reality. Set a date you commit to taking action by.
Just like your kindergarten teacher, I too see you as special, and firmly hold the belief that anything is possible in your life and in your career. But you cannot create wild success and authentic fulfillment without doing some dreaming first. Let these questions give you the space to play in possibility. Then take bold action (even if your fear flairs up in the presence of risk) to make your “What If?” an “And so it is.”
Sarah Anassori is a Holistic Executive Coach on a mission to guide the next generation of heart-centered leaders to step into the work [and way of working] they were made for. Sarah seamlessly unites her years of traditional business experience with her passion for mindful living, personal innovation, and authentic leadership to bring a strategic + spiritual approach to career transitions. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and at sarahanassori.com.