Deal with the problems you have. (Not the problems you wish you had.)
Imagine there is a wall, and your goal or desire is on the other side of the wall. You can decorate the wall to make it more aesthetically pleasing. You can add shelving, so it seems more practical. You can walk to the other side of the room and pretend the wall isn’t there and that what is on the other side isn’t important to you. But it is there, and it is important to you.
You might cross your arms and say, “That thing that is on the other side of that wall is not even that special! I don’t care anymore. I don’t need it.” But here’s the thing...You’ll find something else you want, and that pesky wall will pop up again to block you. If you make a habit of this, you’ll find yourself closed off completely from all your goals and ambitions.
This of course assumes that you can see the wall in the in first place. Sometimes you just can’t see the wall. But guess who can? EVERYONE ELSE IN YOUR LIFE!
We’ve all had that friend (or been that friend) with a terrible romantic partner or a dysfunctional job that they won’t leave. Our friend can’t/won’t acknowledge that this person or job is the barrier holding them back from happiness.
Even worse, they come up with an endless list of other obstacles (real or imagined) that they think are standing in their way. So, they go on quests to overcome these obstacles, but never tackle or even notice the true obstacle. I know people who have gone on retreats, invested in classes and workshops, and visited mediums, astrologists and other healers to find the answers.
While these are all valid and powerful resources, the reason our friend doesn’t find what they are looking for is that they are seeking solutions to the problems they wished they had instead of the problems they actually have.
For instance, let's say you are over-scheduled and stressed because you don’t set boundaries and are afraid of confrontation with your co-workers. You might decide to go off and spend two weeks at a yoga center and learn about meditation and breathing. You will likely learn some great coping skills and you will likely feel much less stressed when you get back. But you’ll unlikely see lasting change in your overall happiness because you haven’t addressed the challenges that sent you to the retreat center in the first place: Setting boundaries and confronting your co-workers.
Once again, you have to deal with the problems you have, not the problems you wish you had.
Sometimes this is just a little walls that pop up in our day-to-day life. I remember a client, who called in for one of his sessions and planned to discuss the tasks he had scheduled for that week. But he was a little distracted. Turns out he had decided to propose to his girlfriend, and all he could think about was the weekend getaway that he needed to plan.
Because most of my clients come to me for help with career stuff, they don’t always expect to use the time for personal stuff. But here’s the thing...if what is happening in your personal life is hindering your professional life, then your personal stuff becomes professional stuff.
I said to my client, “Since this is something that is clearly a big deal, how would feel about using our time to talk about that.” By the end of the call, he had a plan for his proposal weekend, and could get back to focusing on work.
Sometimes it’s a larger block that hangs over our entire life. I had another client who was in a relationship that was not working. I could recognize it was not working when I first met her several years ago. I also recognized it was something she couldn’t see herself and wasn’t ready to see. A few months ago, I spoke to her and found out she had made the decision to have a final talk with her partner explaining that she couldn’t be in the relationship anymore and they needed to make a plan to separate.
I knew her immediate future would be complicated, messy, sad, awkward, and shitty. AND I felt a flutter in my stomach as she told me this because I knew she was finally making a choice to break down a wall that was holding her back. When the dust settles, I have every confidence that she’ll be grateful to have faced and torn down the wall that was blocking her.
So many times, clients show up wanting to work on x, and it takes a little time for them (and me) to discover what they really need to be working on. Once we see it, it’s hard to unsee it. And in that dope slap moment, when you break into a cold sweat, your vision blurs a little, and the world shifts below your feet, you have a choice... work on it or not.
Do the work that is in front of you. It is the work you're supposed to be doing.