Self Discovery

Letting Go of the ‘And Then What?’ Mindset

Bearing the weight of your own joy can be terrifying

When you sit and dream of your ideal life, pondering what would happen if you achieved it, the: “and then what?” question may pop into your head. These three words have inhibited more dreamers from becoming achievers than anything else. Stop telling yourself the same story and realize that “then” is “now.”

Previous Encounters

The “and then what” narrative is engrained in just about everybody. It all begins within some cycle of promised or expected happiness in return for some modification to our lives. Maybe it’s a haircut, a goal weight, or a promotion or grade that you think will finally bring you joy. But then we achieve or receive whatever the end-goal is and realize we aren’t any happier than before.

This misplaced happiness isn’t at the fault of whatever you were set to achieve, but a result of a skewed perception of what or where happiness resides.

Happiness is not an exterior destination but a corner of our mind and soul that’s always there for us when we want to receive it. The “and then what” question now loses all validity because one could argue that idea in this exact moment, wherever you are currently.

Implicit Fear

Realizing the false narrative that nothing you can do will leave you satisfied is utterly false, allows you to come to terms with the reality that clinging to the “and then what” scenario is a result of fear.

Oddly enough we all fear success, we all fear our own potential. Our greatest desires involve some facet of success and yet we try to evade it at the same time. When we place our happiness into the hands of something exterior it makes life a bit easier. We then don’t have to confront the fact that we are responsible for our own happiness.

Bearing the weight of our own joy is terrifying. In order to do so, you must let go of all excuses you’ve held on to thus far that prevent you from reaching your full potential. It’s when you can do that, you will discover what you’ve been looking for all this time, is yourself.

Befriending Chance

Another big component of the “and then what” mindset is risk. What if I fail? What if they judge me? But ask yourself this instead: what if I succeed? What if I guide them to something they’ve been looking for?

Every step we take in life is a game of chance. Even through attempting to avoid these risks through the “and then what” mindset, you still play the game each and everyday. Therefore, what’s the purpose in trying to avoid it?

Imagine what could be unlocked in each of us if we all befriended chance. Risk in life is the only certainty. If we could all accept this truth, failure would lose its stigma. Success would present itself at every turn because failure is success. The more we fall, the stronger we rise.

Then is Now

The present moment is all we have for the entirety of our lives. The then in “and then what” is now. Make your moves to your dream life today, what’s stopping you?

Twist the damaging words of “and then what” from a foreseen dissatisfaction to a present drive to achieve. Rather than using them in a way to justify complacency in the present, allow them to force you into action. As in, “now I’ve done this, what can I do now?”

Life is always presenting us with opportunities for growth, sometimes we just don’t see them. When you switch your mindset around, all of life’s gifts become apparent. Every moment you can see unfolding before you to make you stronger.

Accepting the only way we can find happiness is through realizing it’s right here for the taking, allows us to let go of the “and then what” mindset, and reach every goal we’ve set and more.

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Also published on Medium.

Sarah is a junior studying journalism at the University of Miami. She...