Ever wanted to live a problem free existence? Good luck with that. No matter where you go… what you do… life is filled with problems.
Want to rekindle your relationship with your partner, so you think.. Yeah, we will have a dedicated date night… where its just us and we can reconnect.
Sounds good in theory, but the PROBLEM is now you have to think of something to do each date night, make sure you have the money to go to dinner, or go bowling, to pay a baby sitter to look after the kids. On top of that, you need to be in the right headspace to enjoy this date night, and you have to come up with activities or things to do that dont totally suck and show how much you are committed.
I want to be absolutely jacked! I wanna be able to bounce a 20c piece off my abs!
The problem is that you will essentially need to find the time to work out, on top of all your other priorities, mixed with making sure you eat right… and that you dont lose motivation if things dont happen as quickly as you’d hope.
If you think about it, on a long enough timeline, everyone has money problems, relationship problems, work problems… life is inherently pretty shitty. Even those Insta-Famous douche bags have problems…
My problems are paying two mortgages whilst trying to sell a house, their problems might be that the kombucha they are drinking isnt ethically sourced. In their mind, my problem is probably on par with theirs.
The picture above is Disappointment Panda, Mark Manson’s answer to a superhero. He would go door to door dropping truth bombs on people… trying to get them to look at their problems in different ways.
I didnt draw the picture btw, I googled it… hover over it and you should get the link to the original artist and site.
Good Problems vs Bad Problems
Take my point above having to pay two mortgages. Its killing me. I cant really afford it. I was hoping to have sold one of the houses by now. You might be thinking this is a veiled humblebrag about having two houses… I geniunely want to sell one of them so that I can set up my current or new house the way we want.
Now I could focus on the negative aspects of this situation:
- Im broke pretty much three days after pay day.
- I have to juggle my finances pretty heavily. I have to plan almost a month in advance.
- I have to wear several failed direct debits because they fall out of sync.
- I have to deal with the feeling that every week we have an open house, people come through to look but dont make offers to buy.
- I moved further out for my new house, so whilst I still work in the city, I have a pretty long commute each day… and its not cheap!
- The longer it sits empty, the lower I will have to go on the price to sell it.
In the past I would have taken the stress this generates and taken it out on my nearest and dearest. I would have been in a foul mood because I just cant seem to get on top of the financial dogpile, however lets look at the positives.
- I have the house of my dreams now.
- I live in a really good area that is up and coming.
- I get to volunteer at an excellent Emergency Services unit.
- We got a nicer house, on a bigger block that has everything we want.
- Once we do sell the old house, we will have the money to finish it off the way we want… outdoor kitchens, new PC, Theatre Room etc.
- We are not totally in over our heads, this is just a temporary set back.
I guess whilst the negative aspects do exist and I have to acknowledge that, that shouldnt be at the expense of the positive aspects. I knew going into this that it was a possibility and I prepared as much as I could for it.
You have to take responsibility for your problems…
Once you identify what the problem is… you can then get to work about solving it. Are you unhappy because you’re poor? Are you pissed off because your partner doesnt do the washing? Are you upset because your friends piked on you once again and you were really looking forward to catching up?
Lets look at the first thing, being poor. Define poor. Is the fact my workmates have stopped asking if I want to order anything because I take my lunch because I cant afford takeaway every day make me poor? Probably not cos I can still afford to eat.
Is that to say someone who is unemployed is poor because the Government only gives them a pittance to live on? Sure. But thats not the actual problem. They are relying on the Government for their hand out, rather than saying “I cant live on what they give me, I need to improve my situation”.
I need to tread carefully here because I could either sound elitist or dismissive of peoples geniune situation… poverty is a cycle and no one WANTS to be there, however it is just a problem that can be solved… if you want to take responsibility for it.
When I first started at the company I work for, there was this expectation that seniority meant advancement. You did your time and you got bumped up. Unfortunately thats not the way it actually works, politics and favourtism aside, competence and ability define your success, not the fact you’ve been there for the longest time.
I hated being on the phones, I hated working in debt collection, Id been doing it for way too long by the time I started at the company… and I had people whose only experience was customer service, trying to coach me on how to collect debt. I was SEVERELY PISSED OFF!. It felt like my only skill was calling people and convincing them to pay their bills, more specifically their bills to us first and then everyone second.
I also had a reputation as a bit of an IT whiz, simply cos I was extremely proficient with Microsoft Office and general PC troubleshooting. So I was offered an opportunity where I was well over my head, I fucked it up, but learnt what I had to do not to fuck it up in the future.
I taught myself to code. I was pretty bad at it to begin with. I had no idea what I was doing… but as they say… to a sufficiently primitive species, science looks like magic. This got me promoted into a support area of the team where I re-wrote many of the automated procedures. 15 years later Im still there, albeit working on large scale multi-department high criticality systems and process re-engineering. Yay me… whatever.
Point Im trying to make is that someone I worked with was complaining about how they had been there for 10 years in the same role and there was never a chance to get promoted. I told them that you cant wait for opportunities, you need to make your own. Doesnt have to be anything fancy… just ask to step up for a day, take on the role to see if you like it. Next time a senior goes on leave, they’ll probably give you the relief role.
That was too hard. Why do the work with none of the reward.
They left the organisation about six months later to start an online business. I havent heard from them since. The rumour was that we had to call them to collect a debt.
So the whole problem with being poor. Sure its easy for someone like me who hasnt known real poverty to say “Just do something about it”. I have been poor and heavily in debt. I got a second job working nights in a restaurant for cash in hand. It took me nearly 18 months until I was back on my feet again. I took responsibility for the shitty situation I found myself in and found a way out. It wasnt luck, it wasnt because Im white, it wasnt because I come from a pretty solid middle class background. No one hunted me down to offer me the job. I had to get off my ass and do something about it.
I challenge others to do the same. When life hands you lemons, grab some tequila and salt, slam those fuckers down and get to working out what it would take to get out of this predicament. Take responsibility for fixing the shitty situation rather than wallowing in it.
The example Manson uses in his book is finding a baby on your doorstep, you didnt ask for it, but its currently your problem to deal with, whether you ignore it or do something about it is on you. That is also to say that any outcomes are also on you.
Gretzky says that you miss 100% of the shots you dont take, which is true… just because you want to solve the problem doesnt mean you’ll get it right the first time. It might take several attempts to get to where you want to be. However, as I’ve said before… the joy isnt in the destination, its in the journey... the simple act of doing something about it will instantly make you feel better.
Notice I didnt say “trying to do something about it”… trying implies you’ve given up. Doing implies its still a work in progress.
You are taking responsibility for your problems and you’re taking active steps to address it. Its your problem to solve. When you achieve your goal, solve your problem, get to where you want to be… dont even think the journey stops there!
Todays solutions drive tomorrows problems…
But while y’all washin’, watch him
He gon’ make it to a Benz out of that Datsun
He got that ambition, baby, look at his eyes
This week he moppin’ floors, next week it’s the fries
So stick by his side
I know there’s dudes ballin’, and yeah, that’s nice
And they gonna keep callin’ and tryin’, but you stay right, girl
And when you get on, he’ll leave yo’ ass for a white girl
Gold Digger – Kanye West
I know… shitty song to demonstrate the point Im trying to make.. but think about this… you solve your problem. In the case of the song, its a woman who wants to find a rich guy to string along to finance her lifestyle.
Todays solution: Find a soon to be rich dude and youre life is set.
Tomorrows problem: That rich dude can now do better than you and he drops your ass.
The problem that the lady would need to solve is how to remain important and relevant to her guy so that he doesnt feel the need to cast her aside like an unwanted possession. I mean, its pretty clear she was only in it for the money… end result… he still has money but she doesnt have what he wants…
In a more abstract sense… consider this… what is the number one problem youd like to solve.. right now… first thing that comes to mind.
Consider what it would take to solve that problem…
Now… consider what problems arise from that solution.
How would you solve for those? Do you need to solve for those?
Are you prepared to weather the sacrifice and pain to achieve that solution.
Case in point… about six months ago, I was diagnosed with non insulin dependant diabetes. I was sweating like a pig, drinking water like no ones business… this meant I had to go to the toilet alot, it also meant I sweated alot. My diet, for the want of a better word was atrocious. I had just about given up and resigned myself to a pretty shitty situation. I was stressed out, angry, pissed off… I was not a happy camper.
I kinda suspected I had diabetes because I was showing all the symptoms, even though previous tests had come back negative. I went in, did my blood test. Within two days I got called personally to make an appointment, not the usual email or text message… it was MAKE AN APPOINTMENT URGENTLY. So I did.
I had the diabeetus! TLDR on this, your blood sugar is supposed to be below 6 mmol. I was 24. I was pretty much permenantly hyperglycaemic. Rather than just stick me on insulin, the doc decided to wait and see what happened with medication because it was an insane jump inside of 12 months.
My choices were to accept this reality and do something about it, or ignore it and it gets worse but I dont have to deal with my new responsibilities.
Of course, I finally had the kick up the butt to improve my diet. I told my wife and she went into full planning mode. We were looking up recipes for what I could and couldnt eat. No more takeway was the first step. I was fine with it, but it also meant I would have to cook more often, which would mean I would have to meal prep more often, which would mean I would have to shop more often. This was all on top of everything else I had going on at the time.
I dutifully went to the diabetic nurse and got my monitor and signed up for the NDSS. I listened to what she had to say. I relayed all the information to my wife because if nothing else, she makes an excellent gatekeeper.. she will keep me honest. Every few months I go see the Diabetes Educator, and we review my progress. Im supposed to be keeping a food diary… but yeah, Im not always making good choices.
My problem is that I had the diabeetus… my solution was to improve my diet… my new problem was that I had to improve my diet! Im incredibly time poor, I mean just in the sense that I usually dont get home till 7pm and I do the majority of the cooking. I’ve still had days where I’ve eaten fast food… only because its the last possible option, or I genuinely dont give a shit. Over the Christmas break, this happened a bit, but once I recognised it was happening… back to the diet and being good.
However, combined with all the exercise I get moving between houses… I’ve lost a bit of weight. Ive also been able to fit into clothes that havent fit me for years. My goal is to get my waist measurement under a metre… at this point its 106cm… it used to be 117. Thats since October last year. Im not using my weight as a metric at this point because Im built like a rugby player… and muscle weighs more than fat.
Essentially I am just focussing on the positive aspects of my problem. Diets are a pain in the ass because it takes longer to do things, like rolled oats instead of instant porridge… shop for, then cook a dinner rather than buying take away.
Ive taken responsbility for my problem and solving it, by sticking to my diet as much as possible, regularly checking my bloods, keeping the damn food diary… when I fill it in…, Im looking to start group exercise in the next month and so on. This is what you would consider a “good problem”. Its one Im willing to endure and work on.
So think about what your current problems are… how can you take responsibility for them, and to what point are you willing to do something about it?