What would you do…if you could?

What would you do...if you could? Stacy WestfallI ask myself this question several times a year but almost daily during the time between Christmas and New Years. I love setting goals and New Years Resolutions look suspiciously like the beginning of goals. I say the beginning because after you set the goal you need to build the steps to reach it.

How often do you ask yourself the question, “What would I do…if I could?” I personally phrase it like this because it sounds a little different to me than the more common “If you could do anything, what would do?” The secret is the phrase “if I could” because this little phrase will sneak into your mind. The phrase will aim your focus onto ‘could’ and will hopefully help you be more specific. Could you? What is keeping you from it?

Here are three other people who seem to have a similar line of thinking:

If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results.”-Emily Bronte

Guess what, she did: She led a quiet life and had a reserved nature but wrote with passion in her classic novel Wuthering Heights.

 “I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.”-Georgia O’Keeffe

She did it too!  She was a famous American painter who held her own in the art world, making a name for herself and sticking stubbornly true to her own art form while building her career. I saw her art when I visited the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”-Henry David Thoreau

OK, he cheated because he wrote this after he already did it so he changed his phrasing…but I he clearly asked himself the question “if I could” at some point! He not only went into the woods to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” as he wrote in Walden.

Yep, I’m in good company when asking ‘if I could.’ So how about you?



  1. Kristen on January 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    “If I could” opens Pandora’s box for me. I would do so much for the betterment of the unfortunate horses, forgotten, neglected, and abused, rescuing every last soul I could find to give them a chance at a purposeful and enriched, full life. But, I wouldn’t stop there. I would join together like minded individuals that need a helping hand to achieve the same ideals of rescuing horses, and build a network to strengthen the efforts, producing more second chances for horses of all breeds and sizes. I would also join with the BLM to offer my services to help develop a strong, peaceful resolve for the preservation efforts of our nation’s wild mustang & burro herds. From the wild horses to the award winning pedigrees and every horse in-between, I would make it my life’s work to make a significant contribution to every horse in need, and the horse industry as a whole. Lastly, I do believe I would build a horse hotel for travelers of all disciplines to provide rest with their horses along their journeys to and from, as they enjoy their passion of horses. I’m sure I would think of more I would do along the way, “if I could”!

  2. Kate McAuliffe - Wales, UK on December 31, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Another great way to word that is: “What would I do today…if I knew I could not fail”. Both are very powerful and empowering questions. Thanks for keeping us thinking outside the box!

  3. Joyce Pickering on December 30, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I would love to do reining again. But at 71 with hip surgery in both hips I can no longer do the fast stuff. I just trail ride. Don’t wait to do the things you want to do until it’s too late. I rode horses all my life but didn’t start to ride reiners until I was 60. You sit differently on a reiner and it was just like learning to ride all over again. I learned a lot and had a blast. I won a couple buckles at a reining show in the Prime Time classes. The only regret I have is I didn’t start sooner. Stacy, I love your blog and am still learning from you.

  4. kim on December 30, 2014 at 8:51 am

    If I could, I would get my horse, Mr. D an x-ray of his lower spine and cortisone shots or surgery. He’s a happy guy and used to living with pain (as am I). But I want his life to be pain free. 🙂

  5. marla2008 on December 30, 2014 at 7:07 am

    That’s a wonderful question Tracy, thanks for asking it. I guess if I could, this coming next year, I’d like to progress in my horsemanship journey in three different ways :
    * first, I’d love to treat myself to a special day of personal coaching, riding finished reiners to get a taste of the physical feel of the maeuvers, and learn to sit through them. I have dreamed of doing that since I was a teenager and being 45 it’s about time I make it happen !
    * Second, I aim at bettering the foundation I have started to put on my soon to be 4 yr old, and do right by him. Taking into account that he’s just a youngster, but yet training accurately and with quality till we get results, I hope to have both of us making good progress.
    * Third, I hope, maybe, to be able to take a few jumping lessons, as while I don’t do any jump work with my youngster yet, it will contribute making me a better rider overall, and once I feel confident enough over small jumps I can even incorporate that in my young horse’s program, which will keep things more varied and more interesting for him.
    That’s for my goals as a rider and horse owner. On a larger scale our family goal for the year is to move out to a more rural area where we can have a slower paced, simpler lifestyle and spend more time with each other, and our animals as well, rather than zipping around in the suburban life like zombies, utterly miserable, as we do now.
    Thanks for this opportunity to let me lay my goals out and make them clear for myself, I hope everyone here gets to do the same, and even succeed with a few of their own goals.

  6. Lindsay on December 29, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    El Condor Pasa (If I Could)

    I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail
    Yes, I would
    If I could
    I surely would

    I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
    Yes, I would
    If I only could
    I surely would

    Away, I’d rather sail away
    Like a swan that’s here and gone
    A man gets tied up to the ground
    He gives the world its saddest sound
    Its saddest sound

    I’d rather be a forest than a street
    Yes, I would
    If I could
    I surely would

    I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet
    Yes, I would
    If I only could
    I surely would

    ©1970 Lyric by Paul Simon, Daniel A. Robles and Jorge Milchber

    • Deb on December 30, 2014 at 4:53 am

      “If I Could” lyrics

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      “If I Could”

      If I could
      I’d protect you from the sadness in your eyes
      Give you courage in a world of compromise
      Yes, I would

      If I could
      I would teach you all the things I’ve never learned
      And I’d help you cross the bridges that I’ve burned
      Yes, I would

      If I could
      I would try to shield your innocence from time
      But the part of life I gave you isn’t mine
      I’ve watched you grow
      So I could let you go

      If I could
      I would help you make it through the hungry years
      But I know that I can never cry your tears
      But I would
      If I could

      If I live
      In a time and place where you don’t want to be
      You don’t have to walk along this road with me
      My yesterday
      Won’t have to be your way

      If I knew
      I’d have tried to change the world I brought to you to
      And there isn’t very much that I can do
      But I would
      If I could…
      Oh baby… mummy wants to protect you
      And help my baby through the hungry years
      It’s part of me
      And if you ever… ever need
      Sad shoulder to cry on
      I’m just someone to talk to
      I’ll be there… I’ll be there
      I didn’t change your world
      But I would
      If I Could!

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      CELINE DION Lyrics
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      Writer(s): Shanna Crooks, Kenneth Hirsch
      Copyright: Shanna Crooks Songs, Sony/ATV Songs LLC

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