“If you do enough that is doable, you will get to the important, and your motivation will be fueled by your success.” -Kim John Payne

I used to pride myself on being a great problem-solver.

I was tenacious and passionate about fighting against the problems I saw in our society, and I got a lot done.  But truth be told, I often felt like I was spinning my wheels.  I felt drained, and I found it difficult to see the lasting results of my actions.

When my son was born, I stepped back from activism and decided to focus my energies on supporting women through major life transitions, an area where I felt I could make a change while simultaneously taking good care of myself. One of the most significant paradigm shifts I experienced on my journey was moving from problem-solving to solution-focused thinking.

In order to create change—for ourselves, our communities, and our world—we must learn the dance of solution-focused thinking.

Here’s the deal.  The brain cannot think in negatives.  Just try it.  Don’t think of dirty gym socks.  Don’t think of nails on a chalkboard.  Don’t think of a pink elephant.  Don’t think of pizza.  Can you do it?  If you’re like anyone I’ve ever met, each of these suggestions conjured up an image or sensation in your mind.  Our minds are awesome virtual replicators of whatever we suggest to it, but when we think of something we don’t want to happen, the mind cannot help but focus on that thought.

The fastest path towards creating a life that is passionate, rewarding, and filled with what you most desire is to release your mind’s grasp on what you don’t want and turn your attention toward the life you do want.

Here are the steps I follow to embrace solution-focused thinking as a way of life.

Stop asking why.

It can be important to identify the problem you’re experiencing, but often, we get mired in trying to figure out why we’re having a problem as if figuring out the cause will lead to the solution.  Though it may be unexpected, when you study the problem and focus on the problem, it often becomes tough to see anything besides the problem. Rather than trying to figure out why a problem exists or asking, “Why is this happening?” I invite you to ask, “Exactly how is this a problem for me?”

Focus your attention on what you want.

If your problem was no longer a problem, what would you be doing?  One of the first steps towards creating the life you want is to know what it is that you want and focus on that.  If avoiding the problem seems like a radical notion, try it out for yourself.  For just this week, play with stopping yourself from asking why you’re having the problem, and start asking yourself, “What do I want my life to look like, feel like, sound like, or even smell or taste like?”

Notice what works, and do more of that.

This one of the most powerful, yet simple, instructions you will likely ever receive.  It may seem too good to be true, but this is solution-focused thinking at its finest. Try it for yourself.  For the next week, notice every itty bitty moment in which you’re acting in a way that works for you.  Notice what you’re doing, saying, thinking, feeling in these moments.  And then, do more of that!

Take one small step toward change.

Ask yourself, If I woke up tomorrow and life was as I want it to be, what would be the first small thing I would notice is different?  Maybe that little thing is giving yourself the time to make your bed, or enjoying a quiet cup of coffee at the kitchen table before heading off to work. Now, do that small thing!

Have you made the switch from problem-solving to solution-focused thinking? Are you intrigued by the idea but looking for more support in getting started? Click here to learn more about leadership coaching, and here to apply for a free Discovery Session today to get clear on your next steps to living your calling and loving your life.


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