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A couple of months ago I’d just finalized our acquisition for Campground Booking and was on a run around our neighborhood when something hit me.
The last several years I’d stressed out, lost sleep, and constantly worried about the future of our business, only to eventually have a positive outcome. Not just a positive one, but an outcome that actually was meaningful for my family, my business partners, and my employees. I’d allowed seeds of doubt to plant themselves in my mind and steal joy away from a journey that, in the end, was all good.
How many times in my life have I allowed this to happen? To ruin what would otherwise be a really fun journey, just out of fear?
When I took the Strengths Finder test in college, my number one strength was optimism (by far). I took it nearly a decade later and low and behold, my number one strength was still optimism.
And yet I’ve let myself slip into a mental narrative of fear and worry. It’s not how I want to live my life.
I wanted to write today’s blog to pose a question to myself and others, especially given the state of current news cycles.
The question is:
What if Everything Actually Works Out Beautifully?
In this scenario, things don’t just work out. They work out great.
The business you’re worried about failing. It crushes it (or, maybe it does actually fail, but along the way, it leads to you doing the thing you were meant to do in the first place).
The relationship that’s in a rocky spot? Improves and flourishes.
Your kids? They end up great.
Your health? Your peak has yet to come.
Okay, you get the point.
A Reminder That We Control Our Mental Tape Reels
While I often forget to check the mental tape reel I’m playing in my head, I was reminded to do so last fall on a work retreat. I was sitting around with a bunch of other entrepreneurs who were sharing their real journeys (you know, not the stuff you see shared on Instagram).
And when the time came for me to raise my hand I said, “I just have this fear that I’m not moving fast enough and that if I stop moving someone is going to beat me and I’m going to fail.”
The woman leading the workshop reminded me of a couple of really important things after I said this.
First, the tape reel that is playing in our head isn’t often correct. Just because we think something, doesn’t make it true. Just tally up the number of times you’ve been hyper-convinced of something, only to realize you couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Second, even if a tape reel isn’t true— what we play over and over in our heads can become self-fulfilling. If we believe we’re going to be successful, that tape reel eventually will play itself out. If we constantly tell ourselves we’re going to fail, that reel will also play itself out. Often what we’re most afraid of becomes what we focus on and what we focus on becomes the direction we drive toward.
Third, and most importantly, we can change the tape reel we are playing in our heads. If we recognize it’s playing a script or movie or thought process that we don’t like, we can change it.
The reminder that we can flip or change the scripts that are playing in our minds is one of the most beautiful and true ideas that I will strive to hold onto for years to come.
The tape reel I’ve played so many times in my mind in business and life is that something may not work out. While this could always be true, this is not a self-serving mental script. It’s a script that causes anxiety and stress and steals joy away from the journey (and I’ve been told the journey is the best part).
Over the last year with everything going on in the world, I’ve noticed my mental reel falling into a darker place than I’ve ever experienced before. Even as someone who has totally owned a #1 spot in the “optimism” category on Strengths Finder, I’ve let fear slip into my veins and mental capacity.
While a global pandemic is something to take seriously and our health & well-being should always be a priority, I don’t believe I want to live with a mental script of fear and worry. Things may or may not work out at any point with any part of my life, but what if things do end up working out pretty well? What if the next business works out and our next baby comes out healthy and Ellie grows up to be this incredible person?
What if things end up not only working out, but working out beautifully? Wouldn’t it have been a shame to waste time on fear and worry when in the end it was all great?
I hope this question permeates through your mental tape reel the next time you find yourself playing a narrative that you don’t love.