“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis
The title of this post is a fair question…do you have a problem… because sometimes a problem really isn’t a problem.
Determining whether or not you really have a problem is the first step in problem solving. Trying to solve a problem that isn’t really a problem is a huge cause of unnecessary stress. It also prevents us from using our resources to solve real problems which in turn causes more stress.
Before you try to solve a problem you need to ask yourself if it is indeed a problem. Ask yourself if “this” will matter in 5 years, 5 months, or even 5 minutes. What will the consequences be if you do nothing. It is vital that you don’t lie to yourself when answering these questions. Many real problems are allowed to grow simply because someone lied to themselves about the seriousness of the problem.
It’s poor leadership to try solving problems that don’t exist but ignoring problems that do exist is leadership at it’s worst.
When determining whether or not you have a real problem consider the words my dad has frequently shared with me: Never make a mountain out of a molehill.
If you’ve decided that you have a real problem then stop fighting it. Just accept it. In Dale Carnegie’s great book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” he says one way to eliminate stress is to accept our problem and the worst outcome that it can produce. He also adds that once you have accepted the worst you should try to improve upon it.
When you try to improve upon the worst never forget to ask for help. It’s unlikely that you’re the first person to have this problem so ask around. Ask what other people have done in similar situations. Ask what worked and what didn’t. When trying to solve problems there is no requirement that you go it alone so do what successful problem solvers do… ask for help.
Don’t waste your energy complaining about what is. Invest your energy and resources searching for solutions. Complaining about a problem does not solve it, criticizing the source of the problem does not make the problem go away. So focus on solutions and make your efforts count.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The problem may be too big to solve all at once so break it into pieces if that makes it more manageable. Sometimes solving part of a problem makes the overall solution come into view. Few problems were created in a day so don’t feel a need to “fix” a problem all at once.
Virtually every problem brings with it the opportunity to learn and grow. You have the choice to look at problems as a negative or as an opportunity for self-improvement.
Be aware, if you choose to look at every problem as a negative you may have a much bigger problem than you think.