Overcoming the If Only Mentality

The If Only mentality can hold us hostage from true happiness when we think that we have to accomplish a certain something before we are worthy. Here is my process with aiming to banish this mindset, and a 6-question framework that helped me get there.

I posted about this on Instagram a few weeks ago, and the thought has lingered. It's the idea of what I'm calling the If Only mentality. In yoga a few weeks ago, the teacher was talking about how we often live within this headspace of, "If only I (insert whatever goal you're currently working towards), then I will (insert whatever emotion/feeling/result that you think only achieving that goal will allow you to attain)."

So many of us operate our businesses (and lives!) from this point of view.

If only I could sell X more things, then I could rest easy.
If only I could get some media coverage, then I could stop having to spend so much time on business development.
If only I could launch this thing, then I'll feel like a legitimate business.

It's close cousin is the When I statement... 

When I reach my revenue goals, then I'll feel like I've made it.
When I get the design just right, then I'll share it.

Sound familiar?

The problem with the If Only mentality is that it takes us out of reality, untethers us from gratitude, and places an unfair burden on us that we won't be happy/whole/successful until something else happens. 

It relinquishes the power of choice and makes us a passive observer in our own life. It makes us feel as though our value is tied to an outcome rather than acknowledging our inherent worthiness. With such a myopic focus on ourselves, we can lose sight of all the opportunities and goodness coming our way.

And, when this happens, when we are so worried about achieving a certain something because we think then, and only then, will we be worthy, we are more susceptible to acting out of desperation, rather than responding in a way that aligns with Our Why.

In order to flip the script, we must reclaim the power of the present moment. We have to acknowledge what is reality, and think creatively to help us move the needle closer to where we want to be.

All of this is coming about because I'm struggling a bit in my own business right now. I have not hit my revenue goals in the past four months, and that is stirring up a lot of feelings about success and failure. It's not easy sharing this, but I feel it's important to be transparent, share my own process, and hopefully with all of this blatant honesty, it may stir something inside you that helps to propel you forward. Or better yet, maybe launches you into a fantastic inspirational whirlwind, fueled by Your Why.

So with that, here's the current If Only statement I keep playing in my head, and the process I used to help me shift my own thoughts around it: 

If only I could make the money I need, then I could stop worrying.

Question 1: Is this true? Can I absolutely know that this is true?
A: No, I can't. Because even if I had the money, there would be something else for me to worry about. The money itself does not eliminate the worry.

Question 2: What is my reality? 
A: For the past 4 months I have not made what I need to according to the averages I calculated in my budget this past summer.

Question 3: What is My Why?
A: To create and hold space for others so that they may discover what is lurking just beneath the surface that will propel them forward.

Question 4: Based on My Why, how do I measure success?
A: By the number of lives and/or businesses that are positively impacted through our work together.

Question 5: Turn that If Only statement around so that I can put the focus back on my success metric. 
I choose to focus on (the metric by which I'm defining success), and believe that in doing so (a reversal of your initial block from your If Only statement).

A: I choose to focus on how I can continue to positively impact as many lives and businesses as possible, and believe that in doing so I will make the money I need.

Question 6: What are 3 things I can do that will help me shift focus away from my If Only block, and towards My Why? 
In my case this is, what are three things I can do to take the focus away from my perpetuating thoughts regarding lack of money, and turn that focus back towards how I can positively impact more businesses.

1. I could think of new ways to help others with some sort of pop-up offer that is really intentional.
2. I could remove the expectation that I need to make a certain amount and maybe even adjust my budget based on my new averages.
3. I could give myself permission to not pay myself this month, and trust that my family will catch me; trust that this doesn't mean failure; trust that I can ask for support; trust that in time, everything will reveal itself as it is meant to unfold. If I can give myself the permission to drop the story I'm carrying around, then this will allow me to stop focusing on myself, and expend more energy thinking about how I can best show up for others.

And then, I have to sit with these ideas, and make a choice, in the present moment, about what I want to do. The more I sit with this, the more I write about it, the more I believe it's the Universe testing me on my intention for the year—TRUST.

So for now, I'm looking to Option 3 as my answer. It continues to feel scary to think about it, and I know the fear won't abate after sharing with you. However, I believe in the work I'm doing. I believe that I'm planting seeds that have yet to sprout. I believe in spreading gratitude and working on collaborations, and there are still so many exciting things on the near horizon. It's just that in this moment, right now, this is really freaking hard. And that's OK, too. Not all parts of running a business are hammock hangs and slaying in PJs. 

And to get past this stuck point for me, shifting my thoughts is truly helping. 

If you are feeling stuck somewhere in your business, and you have a similar If Only statement running rampant, I hope you will use this 6 question framework to help you find some peace and clarity around how to move forward.

I've created a Google Doc for you with these questions, so feel free to print or make a copy to keep on your Google Drive.

Please know that I'm here. If you care to share with me how this exercise went for you, I would love to hear from you! You can send me a DM on Instagram, or email me directly at hello@maggiegentry.com.


If you're ready to build a marketing plan that feels good and is in alignment with your core values, then I would really love to work with you to help you get there. This is at the heart of the Own Your Why® methodology, and I have a few different ways in which we can work together. Take a look at my services to see which one might be the best fit for you, or join me for an upcoming Own Your Why®: Workshop

And if you aren't yet at the stage where you can make this investment, don't forget about my Virtual Office Hours.
30-minute, 1-on-1 chats—honest, heartfelt conversation—always free.