Unfortunately, feeling trapped, stuck, desperate, scared, or hopeless, among other things, is not uncommon to the entrepreneur experience. We fluctuate from feelings of high to low and back up in a matter or minutes sometimes, or the feelings can extend over weeks and months. Most people can’t withstand the instability and throw in the towel.
I remember the day I went into a conversation thinking I was going to raise my rates with a client, but hearing that, in fact, my full-time coaching income from them was disappearing. I remember the day I was given a contract to sign for my biggest client to continue working with them, and knowing I just couldn’t sign it, leaving me scrambling yet again. I remember getting down to the last pennies of my savings and still not having enough income as a coach to keep us afloat.
And yet, like all of you, I’m still here, doing this work.
I’ll admit, I don’t often use the tool I’m about to teach you myself. This is the way my brain works all the time, so doing an exercise for it is often redundant. But I’ve learned over the years how to teach others to get the same benefits by using this exercise, and it works amazingly well.
There are two main scenarios when you might use this tool, then after that the sky’s the limit.
1. When you feel like you’re trapped, out of options, don’t know what to do next, like nothing is working, and you’re desperate to get results.
2. When you’re dreaming big, imagining something that feels impossible, and you want to do it anyway. When you want to get results quickly, but have no idea how you’ll do it.
Both of these scenarios are my signal to do this exercise with a client.
It’s super duper simple.
I call it “Expanding Possibilities”.
Here’s how it works:
1. Start with a question, or just a statement. It could be something like “How can I bring in $10k by August 1” or just “How can I get out of this mess?” Whatever feels resonant to you. Don’t overthink this part.
2. Make a big list, or mind map, of all your options. They key is to be as crazy as you can be. This is really ALL the ideas you can think of, even if they don’t seem realistic or they sound silly. (hopefully you can get to 20–30 ideas here at least)
3. When you’re done, and you feel like you really don’t have any more ideas, then you come up 10 more. (For real, you can do it.)
Why this works
As you can imagine, the last 10 ideas are usually the best ones. When you’re pushed to really go deep, you find gold. But really, it’s not even about taking action on these ideas. The magic is in understanding that you have options, you’re not actually stuck, and you have the power to make things happen.
Clients report having major energetic shifts when they do this exercise, and it’s not because we did anything deep in their psyche. This exercise brings forth the healthy, resourced self. It shows your Protector you have options, and you begin to trust yourself again.
Sometimes you truly do come up with a new idea you hadn’t thought of before, and getting into this mode of creativity is extremely helpful (especially for the variation I’m about to share with you), and other times you may realize you were on the right path all along.
A Fun Variant Using “What if?” Thinking
Maybe you’re not feeling trapped, but in fact you’re just stuck in a rut. Or you’re having this nagging feeling you could be having a bigger impact but you’re holding yourself back. This is where a variant on Expanding Possibilities is pretty darn cool.
Start by getting really curious, and maybe even outrageous. Come up with a little challenge for yourself starting with “What if…” For example:
· What if I could achieve my 5 year goal in 30 days?
· What if I could run my business in half the time?
· What if I took 6 months off a year?
· What if I could live off half as much money?
Likely your immediate thought is either fear or panic, and both try to squash the idea and say it’s impossible.
But then we do the Expanding Possibilities exercise with this phrase, and all of a sudden, the impossible becomes plausible.
Once you’ve done your big list, then you’ve added 10 more, take some time to reflect. How are you feeling about that outrageous idea now?
I’ve facilitated this exercise live in front of 100 people and it was incredibly fun to see the ideas that came not just from the person in the hot seat, but from the audience. Not only that, the audience even started offering support and introductions to help make it happen! I share this to encourage you to do this with other people because you never know what will come out of it.
Keep this tool in your back pocket, and test it out when you’re down in the dumps. And I would love to hear what comes up for you when you try the “what if…” variation. You’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: I believe we can all have our businesses exactly the way we want them; we just have to figure out what we want so we can make it happen. This is one of the ways to get a jumpstart on that.
Want to do this exercise with someone helping you? Book a gift coaching call with me to experience what coaching is really like, and likely get a few great ideas to run with right away. These gift sessions are for established entrepreneurs who want to grow a more profitable and easeful business.