My Top Ten Ifs

If x, then y. y is conditional on x. For y to happen, x must. But for x to happen, you must happen. That is, you must entertain the thought, let desire pull you, energize what inspires you…with a powerful IF.

When we start a sentence or a thought with a forward-looking “if” (especially in the form of “What if…” or “I wonder if…”), we create space for creativity, ideas, and inspiration to flow toward us. By looking at multiple “if’s” (a.k.a. scenario planning), we get a handle on how sensitive our assumptions are to the predicted outcome. Scenarios expand our thinking and avoid a false sense of certainty in a single forecast. Scenarios are not foolproof, but they do help us ask better questions and figure out which drivers matter most.

If-statements stretch us to live a soul-expansive desire.

Backward-looking “if’s”, on the other hand, harbor regret. They limit and ill-equip us by assuming the future will resemble the past…and that change can only occur slowly. Through deliberate attention, focus, and willPower, we raise our point of attraction to a subset of possibilities that backward-looking “if’s” could never possibly entertain. Once we realize that change must first happen at the level of the mind, we stop looking to the past as our hard-set possibility frontier and end the tragedy of the backward-looking “if”.

Stretching the mind beyond what we can see or quantify…feels uncertain, reckless…even dangerous. So, we stay tightly bound within our mind’s history…where we think we’re safe. With the body, we fall into the same trap but for different reasons. We skip stretching as we hurry onto a bigger calorie-burning exercise or our next item on the day’s agenda. However, stretching is fundamental to wellness in both the mind and the body.

This week, use “if” as your stretch assignment and become more flexible physically and mentally. Stretch your ideas before making a decision. Generate scenarios from a new angle. Stretch your heart to appreciate the other person’s perspective. Stretch your body in training to split. Stretch your mind with the intention to move beyond your boundaries…in the direction of miracles.

Dwell in possibility.” ~Emily Dickinson

To get you started, complete these IF-statements:

  1. IF I could travel to one place in the world, I would jump on a plane to visit _____.
  2. IF I were allowed only one call, I would want to hear _____’s voice. (alive or deceased)
  3. IF I could go out to lunch with one famous person (actor, athlete, artist, author, leader, etc.), I would choose _____. (alive or deceased)10934111_655209321250162_3167818538862673741_o
  4. IF money were not a consideration, I would pursue a livelihood (degree, career, pastime, etc.) in _____.
  5. If I were an animal, I would be a(n) _____.
  6. If I could go back in time, I would relive the year ____.
  7. If I could change one thing about my appearance or physical body, I would change ____.
  8. If my friends or colleagues were describing me, they would mention this positive aspect first and foremost _____.
  9. If I could break one habit, it would be my tendency to ______.
  10. If I could have one super power, it would be _____.

Bonus: go back and add the “why” to each response.

If. ‘If’ always propelled my thoughts back to the present, because ‘if’ depended so much on keeping my wits about me. I couldn’t properly sense things if I was distracted. ‘If’ demanded my full presence and participation in ‘now. ‘If’, as much as it scared me, also kept me sane.” ~ Ransom Riggs

Do you want to explore IF further? Click here for quotes, mantras and our willPower dedicated weekly exercise!

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah is a studio owner, fitness instructor and competitor. She is a former investment banker and equity research analyst with her MBA from the Wharton School and her MA in International Affairs from the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah is fluent in Japanese and consults with Japanese companies on corporate governance, finance, and investor relations. Sarah's interest in Japan stemmed from her first tour with Disney On Ice as a professional figure skater. For more info on Sarah and her studio, visit