Musings

Focus on Success, Not Problems

I’ve really been thinking about that article I linked y’all to on Monday, the one about copying success rather than solving problems.  It was really sticky in the sense that it has stayed with me since I read it, the concept strange enough that I keep turning it over in my head like a raccoon with something shiny.

I am a problem solver.  A troubleshooter.  You give me an issue and I will use the power of my logic to help blast through and develop A Plan.  This is actually a terrible quality in a therapist if she’s not good at turning that instinct off–which is why I teach and research instead.  I had a really hard time not listening to my former clients and immediately wanting to tell them what they were doing wrong and how to fix it, because it was OBVIOUS.  But I digress.

I am absolutely one of those people who takes a problem and intuits the solution, often skipping the steps in between to get to the end game of This Is What Must Be Done.  But sometimes What Must Be Done isn’t easy.  Sometimes it isn’t even possible.  Which is frustrating.  And that’s why I’m so fascinated by this article.  It’s a whole other way of thinking, one that takes into account those middle steps I tend to skip right over.

Instead of being all problem focused, this proposes looking at the things that are actually working.  The successes despite the problem.  Figure out what those are and see how you can duplicate them.  And even if you can’t figure out how to duplicate them, sometimes seeing the success is enough to tip the scales.  Literally in some cases.

For example, my weight loss and fitness efforts are something I’ve struggled with my whole life.  I’ve been in a yo yo for years gaining and losing the same ten pounds.  Now it’s easy to look at a gain and say “Okay, I need to eat less and exercise more” and then use a zillion online calculators to find the “right” number of calories for intake and output based on my resting metabolic rate and this or that weight loss program.  And if the results don’t come or come fast enough, I used to feel like that was a failure.

But taking this new way of thinking, I look at my current set up where I am losing a pound every two weeks, and that’s a loss.  No matter the rate, that is a success.  I’m doing it at a calorie intake level that doesn’t leave me starving or feeling denied and crazy.  Another success (a big one, as that’s what usually sends me on a trip on the crazy train).  I’m running farther and faster.  Another success.  Progress is being made, just not quite the progress I was looking for.

Same with the writing.  I haven’t published as much as I wanted, but I have still increased my word count each year, despite life crap and evil day job interference.  I’ve pushed my limits as a writer both on a production level and on a quality level.  Everything I write is better than the last thing.  These are all successes.  Just not quite the successes I was looking for.  Or rather, not the RATE I was looking for.

I am a really freaking impatient person.  It’s something I’m working on.

Anyway, what in your life could you apply this idea to?  This looking to success to duplicate instead of being problem-centric?  I’m really fascinated by seeing how people can turn around what they think because of this change in focus and attitude.

3 thoughts on “Focus on Success, Not Problems

  1. I have a friend who works with child with multiple disabilities. He had a presentation to a bunch of us on dealing with burnout when working with disabled children. He broke it down like this.

    Look at the success of the moment. If the kid takes two steps by themselves today. Celebrate that success. Don’t worry about tomorrow when they may not be able to take those two steps. The fact is, they did it. If they did it once, they will do it again. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be next week, but they will.

    Another friend of mine has been struggling with writing and tracking numbers. She finally decided that she wouldn’t track numbers. If she wrote one word, that was progress.

    So yes, you may not be getting there as fast as you want, but
    a) You are getting healthy (remember muscle weighs more than fat)
    b) You are writing better every day
    c) You are publishing

    Speed isn’t the issue, it’s progress. Forward movement. You only fail if you give up. If you move forward one day and back the next, you are still moving.

    Good luck with all of this. I think you have an awesome mindset.

    P.S. I’m a fixer too, so I have a real hard time not trying to fix ALL THE THINGS.

  2. I like how this is about focusing on the positive things and seeing what’s working. That can be hard for a natural problem solver. But the change in attitude can lead to more and more success, I think. This is something to ponder. I would like to apply this to my weight loss efforts, but as little success as I’ve had, I wouldn’t know what to focus on. LOL

  3. I’m trying to do this with my daughter. We usually try a different activity with her every year with poor results (success defined as she enjoys it and wants to continue), then we quit and try something else she seems to be interested in. I’m finally starting to be able to not see things as total fail and ask myself what aspects worked, what parts did she enjoy, and what has those elements and less of what she didn’t like. Which makes sense when you, like, SAY it.

    The whole concept is kind of at odds with my All or Nothing attitude problem, but I like it.

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