Don’t Get Too Attached to Your Problems

We all have problems and challenges in our lives—that much is for certain. 

If you’re like me, you may often feel like your problems are never going to go away, that whatever situation you’re in is permanent. I can take a quick inventory of all the negative circumstances in my life and it’s easy to picture them always being there. 

Try this exercise…Think back five years ago and try to remember how your life was and what problems you were facing at that time. Chances are, these problems were quite different from your current problems. Now picture your life 10 years ago—there’s an even greater difference between then and now.

The point is that those problems weren’t permanent, and neither are the ones you’re up against now. 

Pick a specific challenge from the past and think about it for a moment. It could be pertaining to money, health, relationships, career, or anything else. Now, think about how the problem got resolved. It most likely didn’t go away in an instant. 

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where a problem or challenge is immediately resolved, but it seems more often than not, the roadblocks in our path gradually fade away and become less of a concern. Or maybe they were never real problems to begin with; perhaps we were worried about something that never came to pass.

At any rate, money problems don’t right themselves overnight, and neither do relationship or health problems in most cases. Most of the big challenges in our lives take time to resolve, and the ones in your life today are the same. 

You may pause one day in the future and suddenly realize that the big challenge that had been weighing you down is gone. It happened gradually and with no fanfare, so you didn’t even notice that it was no longer in your life.

This should give us hope for our current problems. We can almost certainly count on the fact that whatever we’re dealing with now will not remain a problem for the rest of our lives. Change is the only constant, goes the old saying.

Think about it…You don’t have the same set of problems as a 40-something as you did when you were 16, do you? Of course not. Those problems from long ago seem so trivial and mundane compared to what we’re facing now, don’t they?

The good news is that today’s problems will look the same way a few years from now. You’ll look back at your current set of circumstances and wonder why you ever wasted so much mental energy worrying about them. It may not feel that way right now, but it usually works out that way.

So, the bottom line is this…Whatever problems are before you, take comfort in the fact that you won’t be forever dealing with them. There will just be new and different challenges to take their place. 

We WILL face problems in life, so we’ll do better by coming to terms with that fact sooner rather than later. It just won’t always be the same problems.

Maybe we should start viewing life as a series of puzzles or challenges that need figuring out. Who knows, that might put more joy in our lives, rather than filling us with frustration that things aren’t going how we think they should.

It’s worth a try…

What Do You Worship?

Everybody—each and every one of us—is committed to something in our lives.

We all fall down at the altar of whatever it is that we’ve chosen to worship as our “god.”

For some of us, it might be money. The pursuit of the almighty dollar. We knock ourselves out trying to make as much money as we can, because, certainly, happiness will only come to us when we’re earning X amount of money a year.

For others, it might just be their career itself and all the recognition they hope to garner from it. When at last they are vice-president then—and only then—will they have achieved it all.

Perhaps fame is what motivates you each day. You want to become well-known in your field, to become that writer whose name is on everyone’s lips, or the doctor who finally finds a cure for a rare but fatal disease.  

We might even worship our spouse or significant other (also known as codependency).

Perhaps we worship having our own freedom and individuality—we just want to do life on our own terms. I know I’ve often been guilty of that kind of worship.

Whatever it is, that’s what we ultimately sacrifice everything for. That is our idol.

It doesn’t have to be a little figurine carved out of wood or stone that we prostrate ourselves in front of. It could be as simple as that job you invest 60 hours a week in. Or those golf clubs you cart around every weekend.

Your idol could even be God Himself. Now that’s a novel idea…

It’s Simple, Really

Much of life is actually very simple.

Building a business, getting a college degree, and walking across the country are all simple processes. Just keep doing the work day after day. Eventually, you’ll see results.

Cooking a gourmet meal is simple. Just follow the recipe and you’ll end up with a delectable dinner the whole family will enjoy.

But none of these things is easy.

It’s not easy walking to class when it’s snowing outside, then sitting through a boring lecture, only to trudge back through the snow after class is over. You end up with wet feet and a sour mood.

It’s not easy putting in long hours to be your own boss. You slave in the evenings and on weekends when everyone else you know is at home with their family, or out having a good time.
When we’re in these type of situations, we often wonder if it’s worth it to keep on. Will I gain anything in the end? Would I be better off just quitting now while I’m ahead?

No doubt these are valid questions, and we should probably take time to answer them.

But we should always remember there was a reason we began our pursuit in the first place. We had some kind of dream that grabbed hold of us and never let go. Something that got stuck in our head and wouldn’t let us forget about it.

Some kind of vision that called out and enabled us to see something better for our lives. A more fulfilling career, a business of our own, or just hanging a diploma on the wall and calling ourselves a college graduate.

Whatever it is, if it was important enough to begin it, then it’s probably important enough to finish it.

Notice I said probably. Priorities change. Life happens. Sometimes we have to stop and reorganize things. That’s OK.

That may mean we have to alter our goals to reflect our current life situation.

Sometimes that means we need to double down and work even harder to make the original dream happen.

When life smacks you in the face, it’s up to you to decide what to do.

Keep going. Or quit.

Which choice will you regret more in one year?

Now choose the other one.

The One Where I Realize I Really Can Change

My wife made a very interesting statement last night. When referring to an individual we know, she said that regarding his life and his future he has an “employee mentality”, rather than an “ownership mentality”.

When pressed to elaborate, she explained that he does best when he has someone telling him what the next step is. OK, the next thing you need to do is X. And after that you’re going to go to Y.  If he doesn’t have a clear cut path to follow, he tends to wander, go nowhere, and do nothing.

THAT IS SO ME! I didn’t tell my wife this, but I figured the same thing out about myself several years ago.

I did well in school. I made good grades from kindergarten all through high school and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I did well in college also. I never cut class, I did my assignments, and I graduated (almost) on time.

However, my life since college has been a different story.

In the years just after graduation, I held a number of different jobs in several different careers. One year I had five different jobs, having been fired from three of them (sales positions), and abruptly choosing to leave the other two (also sales positions). I guess it’s obvious what line of work I don’t need to pursue.

I finally found a decent career and have had the same position for a number of years. It’s comfortable and doesn’t stress me out most of the time, but it’s definitely not my dream job.

I’ve always felt like I’ve had a settle-for kind of life as an adult, at least as far as my career path goes – not too bad, but not great either.

I believe this is because I’ve never been proactive about my career. I’ve always expected that things would just fall into place. They always did throughout my school years. Surely, I could expect more of the same as an adult. Right?

Ahhh, but that’s not the way life works. After college, the path is wide open – at least for me it seemed it was. It was as if I’d reached the end of a narrow path through a dense forest, and suddenly before me lay a vast open stretch of virgin land. Untrodden, untouched. My choices were only limited by my desires and creativity.

Alas, I floundered. Having no clear direction laid out before me with step-by-step directions, I retreated as it were. Too many choices equaled no choice at all for me.

What is the lesson I’ve learned from all this?

Even though I “wasted” a good number of years in jobs I didn’t really want to do, I did pick up valuable career skills and a ton of experience in my specific industry.

At this point in my life I can parlay my skills and experience into a career I really want. I believe that the world once again offers me great opportunities. I need simply to transition my strongest skill – writing – into a marketable product. Perhaps easier said than done.

At any rate, this has become the focus of my mid-life career adjustment, and how I will at last embrace an “ownership mentality” of my life.

See you when I get there.