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Monday, January 16, 2017

Make 2017 the year of “What if I…?” | University Affairs

Photo: Jennifer Polk
Jennifer Polk, career coach and writer summarizes,  "A client shared this bit of wisdom with me a while back: Instead of admonishing herself with “I should…” she replaced it with “What if I…?”"


Photo: University Affairs

Reframing the sentiment as an open question turns it into something positive and future-oriented. The answer focuses on the benefits of taking an action, rather than the guilt or shame that accompanies not doing what she “should.”

For my graduate student and PhD clients, “What if I…?” questions include:
  • submitted my draft chapter next week
  • took more control of my professional future
  • requested an informational interview
  • quit my program
Posing the questions gets them imagining possibilities without committing to any particular course of action. Focusing on what it would be like to do something brings any intrinsic motivation to the surface. What if you submitted your chapter next week? “I’d feel amazing.” 
Or perhaps the idea fills you with dread! That tells you something.

Before you decide what to do, check that your fears or “gremlins aren’t clouding the issue. Is the dread of submitting that chapter due to what you know about your work and your advisor’s likely reaction to it, or is it more that you’re afraid of taking this reasonable, appropriate risk? If it might be the latter, be gentle on yourself as you investigate what’s going on.

In my work with clients I do best by them when I ask questions and then shut up and let them talk. That means I try to let silences be, not ask leading questions (for example: “Is it this, or is it that?”), and comment on anything I’m sensing, including my own emotions. That last part might sound odd — coaching isn’t about me! — but in my experience admitting that I’m feeling something can be a useful part of the process. Sometimes we know things intuitively without necessarily being actively aware of them.
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Source: University Affairs


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