The Most Powerful Question You Can Ask Yourself.

Hanging out on a suspension bridge in Nyungwe, one of Rwanda's national parks. 

Hanging out on a suspension bridge in Nyungwe, one of Rwanda's national parks. 

Have you ever reallllllly wanted to go for something — a dream vacation, starting your own business, a masters degree — but stopped yourself?

Maybe the money wasn’t right, the timing didn’t line up, or you weren’t ready yet.

Things happen. I get it. I think we’ve all let opportunities slip through our fingers due to a myriad of circumstances — mainly fear.

But if you’d like to learn how to shake the self-doubt and find the courage to really go after what it is your heart longs for, keep reading.

When I was in my final year of university I was given a chance to work as a journalist in Rwanda. It was an opportunity I’d been dreaming about and working towards for years. As a high school student I read extensively about my university’s work in Africa, and it was a big part of my decision to go there.

So you can imagine how elated I was in the spring of my fourth year of journalism school when my professor told me I’d been selected to work in Rwanda for two months.

Initially, I was ecstatic! I felt like this wild opportunity to work in a country that had fascinated me for years was the cherry on top of four years of hard, hard work.

But then self-doubt set in and I began to freak the fuck out.

So I made up a million excuses.

I couldn’t go because I already had a summer job lined up.

I couldn’t go because the one time I travelled alone to Mexico, it what a disaster.

I couldn’t go because my family would worry about me too much.

I couldn’t go because my relationship would cave under the distance and stress.

Then I told my professor I couldn’t go.

Actually, I did something wayyyy worse, and I still cringe about it to this day because I am so nahhhhhht proud of it.

Instead of saying I couldn’t go because I was terrified, I lied.

Not a tiny, white lie . . . I wish. I actually told him I had a terminally-ill grandmother whom I was very close to and didn’t want to leave while she was in such a dire condition.

Yup. That flew outta my mouth. For realz.

Aside from arthritis and a bad foot, my grandma was totally fine. Terrible, I know.

My professor believed me, but he knew how much this experience meant to me, so told me the offer still stood if I wanted to go to Rwanda later in the year.

Time passed. I began working at my first real ‘Big Girl’ job as a reporter at a daily newspaper. I became consumed with daily life. But I always secretly wondered what it would’ve been like to go to Africa. Part of me really wished I’d had the balls to say yes.

So when my professor reached out to me again a few months later, I knew I had to go for it.

So instead of instantly listing of a million rapid fire excuses, I asked myself one powerful question: what would it take?

What would it really take for me to make this trip to Rwanda a reality?

That one question set off a chain of events that still blow my mind.

I ended a four-year relationship. I left a lucrative job. I began saving money and getting my paperwork together. And in January 2013, I was the very last person to board a one-way flight from Toronto to Kigali.

It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Finding the courage to get on that plane and fly out of my comfort zone, changed me. Realizing that on the other side of great risk lies extraordinary reward empowered me to live bigger, love deeper and flirt with my fear.

So what’s the nugget of wisdom in this story for you? I’m going to spell it out for you. Real clear, nice and simple.

When you want to go for something, but stop yourself, notice what you say. What are the excuses you’re making? What’s behind your because?

I can’t travel because I could never save that much money.

I can’t land that job because I’ve never worked in that field.

I can’t start a business because I don’t know anything about business.

The excuses we make, the words that follow our because . . . these are our limiting beliefs. The negative thought patterns and habits that keep us stuck playing small.

When you can see your limiting beliefs clearly, you can begin to transform them. And that’s where my favourite question comes into play.

If you want to travel . . . what would it take?

If you want to land that job . . . what would it take?

If you want to start a business . . . what would it take?

Instead of limiting ourselves, we open ourselves up to the infinite possibilities that exist for us. And that’s when we begin to receive radical ideas, miraculous support and tons of other exciting goodies from our ever-benevolent and kind universe.

You and me? We’re made up of the same stuff. And you know what? So is Oprah, Kim Kardashian, Neil Armstrong, Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama. There is nothing in this world you cannot do.

So the next time you feel desire burning in your blood, ask yourself one powerful question: what would it take?

Mad love + light,

Alex