Problem or Challenge?

Are you the kind of person who has problems in your life, or do you see problems as challenges?

The way you phrase your problems, or challenges, makes a big difference in your ability to come up with solutions and move forward.

If you are facing problems in your life, then try thinking of them as challenges instead. As humans, we are used to looking at challenges as something we have to overcome.

Problems, on the other hand, are negative things, and many just look at the problem without working hard to overcome it. Also, many people use problems as an excuse for their inability to move forward.

If you focus on problems, you often place emphasis on what is wrong or what is not wanted instead of what you desire or want. For instance, if you are looking for a promotion your boss might say “sorry, you don’t know enough about this.” If you see that as a problem, your response might be “I didn’t get the right education” or “I never had the chance to learn”.

On the other hand, if you see it as a challenge, you’re more likely to say “OK, how can I learn more about this”?

Now, I want to be very clear on this. This is not wishful thinking, nor is it positive affirmations. It’s about how you view life and the challenges you face.

The way you choose to interpret a challenge determines how you approach it, and therefore the result you’ll get. Changing your interpretation is called reframing – it is simply changing the way you understand a statement, situation or behaviour to give it new meaning.

When you view a problem as a challenge, your mind will be actively working to overcome the challenge. If you choose to believe that you can’t overcome the challenge, then you won’t.

But, when you phrase the problems into challenges, you discover options and opportunities you didn’t realise existed. You can then make choices that will help you overcome your challenge.

Now, as was I sitting here writing this article, I had a problem. I didn’t know what to write next. My problem was, I hadn’t decided what I wanted to achieve with this article. So I had a little writing block and was unable to write anything for around five minutes. I was planning to use an example, but didn’t know what to choose.

Then, I had a big Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment.

I was sitting here writing an article about how to reframe your problems into challenges, yet I was telling myself had a problem! Immediately, I reframed the problem into a challenge and the answer fell into my lap.

I knew what example I could use. You have just been reading it!

Look up the word “problem” in a dictionary. “Any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty or difficulty.” Doubt. Uncertainty. These are not words you want to see when you’re trying to find a solution.

Now look up the word “challenge”. “Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.” Call to battle. Special effort. Now that’s a bit more inspiring!

Colonel Sanders created his Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe. He tried to sell it to over 1000 restaurants before he found someone willing to buy his now world famous recipe. Do you think he ever looked at this as a problem? Or as a challenge?

If you have gone through whole life only thinking about problems and challenges, it will take a little bit of effort to adjust to a new way of thinking.

It can be easier than you think.

First of all, the old way of thinking is a challenge that you can overcome. It’s not a problem!

From now on, listen out for your own words and thoughts and pay attention to every time you use the word “problem”. When you notice it, substitute the word “challenge” instead. Be ruthless with yourself and force yourself to think the same thought again, or say the same sentence again, but using the word “challenge”.

Instead of saying “the problem is I’m not making enough money” say “the challenge is I’m not making enough money.”

The first sentence is negative, it focuses on bad things and creates uncertainty and doubt.

The second sentence makes you immediately start thinking about how you can overcome and win this challenge. And if it doesn’t, ask yourself “What can I do about it?”

You might not be able to do anything about a problem, but if you’re involved in a challenge then you can always do something, however little it is, to help your situation.

Now I’m going to challenge you. I want you to take one of the biggest problems in your life right now and write it out in full on a piece of paper, stated as a problem.

Really look and study that sentence. Read the sentence and pay attention to the emotions that you have. Now, try to come up with three solutions for your problem. Three suggestions. Three things you could do, whether or not you could achieve it right now.

I bet it wasn’t easy for you to think of three things you could do.

Then, write the same sentence again but stated as a challenge instead. This time, I want you to focus on the word “challenge” and the sentence, and what it means. Again, pay attention to the emotions that you have. How are they different?

Try again to come up with some solutions to this challenge, however outlandish they might be. Most people will find it a lot easier the second time because, as I mentioned before, it is in our nature to overcome challenges.

This is a very simple technique, but it’s not always easy. It is very powerful, though. If you can get your head around it, it can make a massive difference in your ability to solve all your problems, sorry, I meant challenges!

If you’d like help overcoming your business challenges, call 902 789 660 for an informal chat or visit!

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