I help my clients solve problems. Often, in order to do that, we need to sift through their stories, histories, fears and limiting beliefs to get to a simple question:
What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
If you’d rather listen to this post than read it, please click the play button below. Otherwise, keep on reading!
More often than not, there’s such a deep pattern of focusing on the problem – the details of it, the emotions around it, the history that justifies it – that it can be uncomfortable to shift to the solution, but that’s where progress lives – over here, away from the problem, in the solution.
The other day I got an email from one of my 12 Weeks to Transformation clients and after reading it, I challenged myself to answer the same question before responding:
In one sentence, what is the problem this person is trying to solve?
Here’s part of the email:
I weigh over 300 lbs, come from an obese family and a terrible food environment growing up, and have literally struggled being obese my entire adulthood, though many would say “I carry it well”, whatever the hell that means.I know that is my history, but it’s not my story. The reason I’m writing you is that I don’t want to waste this golden opportunity to write a new story for the rest of my life based on my own goals and dreams.But I have never done that before.I feel woefully ill-equipped for such an undertaking. I have always just taken what life has thrown at me and made the best of it, and many good things have come out of that, don’t get me wrong! But I heard a quote somewhere that states that good can be the enemy of great.How did you grow in the confidence to rewrite your story into the self-empowered life you’re leading now?
After reading that, I asked the question: In one sentence, what is the problem? I think it comes down to this: I doubt my ability to create change because I haven’t done it before.
At the core of this email is an opportunity, disguised as a problem: self-doubt.
The history and emotion in this email point to a powerful question that holds so many people back:
Do I have what it takes?
How can I believe change is possible when I have failed to create it so many times before?
My answer might surprise you.
You don’t have to believe that you have what it takes to reach your goal.
Don’t get me wrong: if you believe in yourself, that’s great. Keep on keeping on! But, if you’re struggling with self-doubt and you feel limited by your past patterns, that’s okay. If you aren’t sure you have what it takes to do the work and keep doing it for life, that’s completely fine.
The only thing you need to believe is that you are capable of one good choice.
How did I lose the weight? Pay off the debt? Start a business?
One choice at a time.
The belief wasn’t there at first, it was built over time. And even now, belief ebbs and flows and that’s fine because all change requires is your next choice.
Do you have one good choice in you?
What can you do to win the moment you’re in?
Think back to when you felt overwhelmed by a school project or term paper. You might have doubted your ability to write 10 pages on the mating habits of the humpback whale. No big deal, because “10 pages” isn’t how it happens.
Then, you write an outline.
You draft your intro.
You find answers to your questions.
You write a bit more.
One word at a time, you accumulate those 10 pages, by doing a series of things you CAN do.
Do you have one word in you? One sentence? Five minutes of uninterupted writing?
Belief is not a prerequisite for progress.
If you listen to the Primal Potential podcast, you’ve probably heard me tell this story before. It’s one of my favorites and I tell it to my clients constantly!
This guy, we’ll call him Ed, really wanted to get into real estate investing but he didn’t have any money. The only way Ed could think to get cash for his first deal was to sell his new truck.
He had overspent on the truck and it was definitely an expense he was willing to part with. But, Ed had a problem. He was upside down on the truck loan. He owed more than it was worth.
Ed wanted to do a private sale to get a better price for his truck, but even then, he wasn’t going to be able to sell it for what he owed and he didn’t have the cash to make up the difference.
He told himself, “I don’t know how I’ll make the numbers work, but in order to sell it, I’d have to clean it, so I’m just going to vacuum the truck.”
He did. He cleaned it up and got it looking brand new.
He still didn’t know how’d he make the money work, but he took the next step.
“I still don’t know how I’ll make the numbers work but I’d need pictures of it for an ad, and that part doesn’t cost me anything.”
He took pictures of the truck.
Then he posted an ad.
He kept taking the next step. Then the next.
Eventually, he found a buyer and they made it happen, but the point is this:
Don’t let what you think you can’t do distract you from doing what you can do.
Vacuum the truck.
When we convince ourselves that we have to see or believe in the finish line in order to start, we overlook the beautifully simple reality that all we need to do is make one improved choice at a time.
That is the extent of belief you need.
Continue to redirect your thoughts away from the length of the journey or the overwhelm of the end goal.
You have one good choice in you.
What’s your next great choice?
Tom Peters, author of The Excellence Dividend, says it powerfully:
Excellence is the next 5 minutes.
Break away from your story of doubt and fear and focus on the next 5 minutes.
Maybe you don’t believe that you can lose 100 pounds. That’s fine. Make one great choice. Maybe you don’t believe that you can pay off $150,000 in debt. That’s fine. Make one great choice. Maybe the idea of starting a business fills you with doubt. That’s okay. Write down your first step and then take it.
Overwhelm and disbelief are perspective problems.
You’re either focused on too much of the past or too much of the future.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. Today you’ll have dozens of opportunities to make one great choice at a time.
Every choice is a chance to create the change you crave.
If you feel like you need a little more structure or assistance in creating this momentum, one choice at a time, I’d love the opportunity to work with you more closely! The wait list is open for our next 12 Weeks to Transformation so make sure you’re on it!
If you have other questions or challenges: did you see that I’ve created a resources and FAQs page for you? Take a peak to see if I have resources listed that will help! If you don’t see what you’re looking for there, let me know so I can help!