Daily Lab: Pick your problems

By preparing ahead of time.

Daily Lab: Pick your problems

Whenever something really good happens in my house, I tend to say out loud, “And they never had any more problems…”

It’s a joke, of course, and a reminder that we don’t actually ever get rid of our problems. We just get new ones.

As Gerald Weinberg wrote in The Secrets of Consulting, “Once you eliminate your number one problem, number two gets a promotion.”

But that’s not the bummer it first appears to be.

Because Weinberg goes on, “Once you eliminate your number one problem, YOU promote number two.”

When we achieve that big milestone, land that big client, or finish that big project, we tend to crave some perfect sense of elation that we feel should follow a big accomplishment.

But, instead, it’s often easier to feel a slight sense of doom—about what’s coming next, what could go wrong, or where the next project will come from.

Because the problem-solving part of your mind has to find something to work on next.

But here’s the thing: YOU get to decide what problem number two is.

And the way to do that is by having a long, long view of where you want to go, on a long, long timescale. Give the problem-solving part of your mind something fun to work on, instead leaving it to bombard you with new fears every time you deal with an old one.

Don’t let your mind or circumstance dictate your problems to you. Promote the ones you want to have by thinking far into the future.

Because you’ll land that big project, or one like it. You’ll finish that big job, or one like it. You’ll get through that tough time, and more like it.

And then you’ll have new problems.

But if you take the long view, and you plan out your problems ahead of time, when it’s their time to arrive, you’re ready for them.

And eager for the next ones.

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