I learned a handy trick a few days ago that is really worth sharing. It will help you make problems disappear in your life and give you a way toward solutions. So first, think of a problem you’ve been having. Since we’re practicing here, let’s make the problem small to medium. Nothing large right now, but it can certainly be used on large problems. Got one? Great. Let’s get started.
Many times in life, there are problems that we just can’t seem to solve. They just stay with us no matter what we do for some reason. Stuff like:
- I want to lose weight, but I love to eat.
- I want to quit smoking, but I need to talk with my friends who are smokers.
- I want to get a new job, but I don’t know where to look.
- I want to be in a relationship, but I’m not dating.
If you notice, all of the problems above are in the format “I want to X, but Y.” I’ll bet you can reformat the problem you thought about just a moment ago into something that fits that form. That’s the first step and you are on your way to success.
Now, thinking about that problem, you’ve probably worked a lot on the Y part. You’ve thought hard about dieting, or quitting smoking, or going to the gym more, or found 27 tips on dating. Nothing seems to be working. The harder you work on the “problem”, it seems that what you want is so much further away.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is change a single word: but. Let’s try it out with the examples above.
- I want to lose weight, and I love to eat.
- I want to quit smoking, and I need to talk with my friends who are smokers.
- I want to get a new job, and I don’t know where to look.
- I want to be in a relationship, and I’m not dating.
Notice that there is a subtle change there. Changing “but” to “and” has given you some power in the situation. You’ve disconnected two things that actually are separate in reality. You want to lose weight AND you love to eat. Plenty of slim people love to eat too. Loving food isn’t what’s stopping you. Let’s try another one. You want to get a new job AND you don’t know where to look. Did you see how that problem opened up and started to disappear? What action could you take now to get a job?
Let’s try it with your problem now. Start by saying, out loud, “I want to X, but Y.” Now say, “I want to X, AND Y” and notice how different you feel when you say “and” instead of “but.” Now you’re correctly separating your problem into two statements. If you look at it now, it feels different, solvable. There’s something you want in life, and there’s also something you do (or don’t do) in life. They are actually separate things. The last step then, is to notice that they are separate and take action based on that new knowledge.
Go ahead and try this out with other problems in your life. Find out how easily you can see the actions you can take when you change just a single word. Try it out with friends too. Help them lose their “but.” You’ll be known as a problem solving genius.