empowermentproblem solving

Redefining Your Problems as Healthy Challenges

No one like to face problems. Not in Australia. Not in New Zealand. And not in the US. Problems are that wrench in our plans, that bump in the road, the one thing getting in the way of what we want. Whenever things aren’t going so well, there’s typically one thing at fault: a ‘problem.’

Think of the potential scenarios:

1. How’s work going?
Terrible, there was a problem in accounting today. 

2. How’s your new relationship going?
Not so well. We seem to have a problem communicating.

Problems. We can hate them all we want, but it’s hard to avoid them. They are as much a part of our lives as our breath and heartbeat.

What, then, can we do to increase our chances of overcoming our problems and start living a successful personal and professional life? It comes down to redefining our problems into healthy challenges.

How to redefine your problems into healthy challenges

One of the easiest steps you can take in redefining your problems into challenges is to literally use new vocabulary in your statements. We’re reminded of the George Orwell book, “1984,” in which vocabulary played an enormous role in controlling one’s behavior. While that’s an example of using new words to inflict poor outcomes, you can use the same process to create positive results. A business coach or personal and life coach can help.

But what exactly does this mean, to use new words?

Let’s take a brief example of a “problem” someone in Australia or New Zealand might experience at work.

Problem: Jonathan has a problem increasing sales at work (which, as a result, causes him stress). But isn’t the whole notion of business about a constant search for increased sales?

Jonathan’s stressed about his problem, because he turned it into a problem. And problems are, well, the problem. They slow us down, and, all too often, stop us in our tracks. Challenges, on the other hand, make us work harder and show ourselves (and others) what we’re made of. So, how could Jonathan turn his problem into a challenge? With words.

Challenge: How can Jonathan develop (or attract) new sales over the next month?

By rephrasing his challenge into a “how” statement, he’s forcing his mind to think of solutions. When we think “how” we think “okay, that’s right, how will that happen?”

How did the universe begin? Chances are for a brief moment you thought about it – gee, how did it begin? Now, that’s just about the toughest question to ponder, so it’s a bit of a trick. But you can see how the word “HOW” can really change your outlook on your problems.

But it goes beyond just introducing “how” statements into your mind.

Get SMART – tips for Australia, New Zealand, and the world

Problems don’t have clear solutions, because we’re not using our best judgment when we’re in problem mode. But by converting our problems into challenges, we can introduce a beautiful tool known as SMART. SMART is usually reserved for achieving goals, but when you think about it, overcoming a challenge is a goal, isn’t it? SMART stands for:

– Specific

– Measurable

– Achievable

– Relevant

– Time-bound

Then, if you’re ready to get “SMARTER,” you can add the E (evaluate) and R (reevaluate), both of which will help you learn from your process.

So, back to Jonathan’s case.

S. Increasing sales may or may not be specific enough, based on your industry. But it’s possible to narrow it down, at least for Jonathan’s first month, such as “increasing sales from cold-calls” or “increasing repeat sales.” We’ll get into how much of an increase in a moment.

M. The measurable part is pretty straightforward. If you know your sales one month, you should be able to tell if you increase them the following month.

A. As far as achievable, this is where you need to consider what’s realistic for your specific job and task. Is it realistic to increase sales by a certain dollar amount, or by the number of clients? Make your target number something realistic, but something you do have to strive for (remember, this is a challenge).

R. In Jonathan’s case, this is an extremely relevant task.

T. We already stated “next month,” but heck, next month isn’t as looming a deadline as a specific day. Get specific with your timetable.

And that’s about it. Sure, it sounds easy to turn problems into challenges, but it’s, well, it’s a challenge. Our minds want to get stressed, and we want to throw up our hands in the air rather than lace up the shoes and hit the pavement.

But if you remember that every problem you face is a potential challenge, you’ll take yourself further than you’ve ever gone before.

 

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