Never Stop Asking, “What If?”

The What if? tool helps you design your future.

The What if? tool is not the same as goal setting. When we set a goal, we say, “Here’s where I want to be in three years.” Then we plan our steps to get there.

The What if? tool asks us to explore different futures that arise as consequenceof our chosen behavior. To use it, we imagine ourselves taking different pathways and making different choices. These choices lead us to activities that, step by step, lead to an outcome that is the consequence of that pathway. To use the tool, we imagine several different options and their resulting outcomes. Then we decide which outcome we prefer, and set our goals accordingly.

Explore different futures.

Two resources inspired me to write this blog, a Hewlett Packard advertisement and the design-your-life program at Stanford University.

HP Labs ran a recruiting ad showing glass lenses and planets in space. The caption was…

Galileo examined an assortment of magnifying lenses and asked, “What if…”

At Hewlett-Packard, we never stop asking, “What if…”

Adjunct Professor Bill Burnett of Stanford University applies design principles of engineering to
designing your life
. He asks us to look forward and imagine our life’s journey – our personal
odyssey – considering many, many different factors spanning several years.

I combined the What if? question with the life odyssey concept to create a much-simplified
What if? tool for quick assessment of our options in the near-future.

In this personal example of using the What if? tool, I decide what I want to do with respect to
writing Journals for Seekers for the next three years.

PLAN A: STAY THE COURSE (This is what I have been doing.)

I will continue writing journals until they are 90% complete.

I will reluctantly hire help and pick people who are overwhelmed with other work.

I will lead a life of isolation, staying at my desk.


I will have 15 more incomplete journals and no sales.

I will not be happy with the outcome.

PLAN B: STEP UP TO THE CHALLENGE (This is one pathway I might take.)

I will accept that I need organized help and hire competent professionals.

I will be willing to spend money to do this.

I will seek competent business coaches.

I will work on journals until they are 100% complete.


I will have income from sales.

I will have 12 useful journals in print.

I will have helped many people.

I will be happy with the outcome.

PLAN C: BAIL OUT (This is another option of what I might do.)

I will quit writing journals.

I will spend no more money on journals.

I will shut down the website and quit blogging.


I will be a good banjo player.

I will have made several more pieces of furniture.

I will have read several dozen books.

I will feel that I could have been a contender, that I should have done something more.

Starting at the beginning of this year, 2023, I chose Plan B, step up to the challenge.

I enrolled in an ALLi workshop lead by Orna Ross, “Creative Planning for Profit and Pleasure: A
Group for Indie Authors

I sought out and found a SCORE mentor with marketing and sales experience, Charlie Smith.

Orna and Charlie are helping maintain a level of commitment to the project and helping me
steer away from TMTD syndrome, the overwhelming feeling that comes from To Much To Do.

My next steps are:

Stabilize the journal writing, editing, and posting processes.

Go out and meet potential customers, segment by segment, person by person.

Gain a good understanding of where and how to find customers.

I look forward to successfully publishing and selling a dozen journal titles.

See for examples.

My journals can help.
Bring a pencil.