Life is not about avoiding problems but having a ‘better quality of problems’.
I got this phrase from Anthony Robbins, a motivational speaker I listen to from time to time. Most people’s objective in life is to get rid of their problems. They feel that once all of their problems are taken care of they will be healthier and more joyful. In many cases, this is could not be further from the truth.
Is it no wonder that when people ‘retire from contributing to the world/working’ they die within a few years? Our goal in life should not be to get rid of our problems, but to find solutions for them and get better quality problems. A healthy level of anxiety and ambition is needed to fuel a fulfilling life. As long as our mental and physical health are intact, we are only limited by our imagination. It’s also important to note that we could have better quality of problems in some areas of our lives than in others. For example, for health & physical well being I need to consciously and actively work to improve my quality of problems. Since working in a desk job for the last few years, I can feel the physical toll a prolonged exposure to this environment is having on my body. I went from deciding whether I would work out 1 hour or two hour in my 20’s, to deciding whether or not it’s even worth packing my gym clothes in the morning in my early 30’s. To help me improve my quality of problem in this area, Alyssa from My Mixed up Money (another fellow Calgarians and personal finance blogger) has been working out with me and even preparing a resistance training workout we follow together. She’s fit as a whip and has better quality problems in the fitness area.
Contrast that to the way I feel about my financial progress and my quality of problems are much better. Here is a brief outline of where I started financially and where I hope to go in the years to come.
- Get a job after I graduate, hopefully one that pays well
- Pay off my student loan debt
- Save for emergencies
- Invest for the long-term
- Decide whether we want to buy a house or continue renting
- Start planning to grow our family & financial investments
- Retire from our desk jobs and work when we want to
- Pay it forward.
Each step on my financial journey I am comforted with a problem, but it’s a better quality problem then the last (at least I think so).
There are those that blame others for their problems and those that become the solution to their problems
What I have observed in my short time on this earth is that those that spend more time figuring out who to blame, whether its warranted or not tend to achieve LESS success than those that spend more time trying to figure out a solution. I am not saying I am perfect and that I don’t blame others…I have and I do from time to time. But I am also very careful to check myself and move on to figuring out a solution. If other people are not the solutions to the problem, then you must become the solution to the problem.
The most recent example is our student loan debt. With $120k of debt, most of it in student loans, my husband and I could have blamed everyone under the sun for our initial unsuccessful start to our financial future. From higher tuition fees, to the government, parents, the education system etc. All of this would not have changed a thing. We would still remain 2 broke post-graduate students angry with the world. Instead, we decided to become the solution and now we not only have better quality problems as a result of it, but have learned from this experience tremendously.
Becoming the solution and not the problem will not only help you in paying off debt, but in your work life, marriage/relationships and health.
The hardest part of making a decision is ‘deciding’
Again, I stole this saying from Anthony Robbins (I guess I am having a Toni moment today), but I find it to be absolutely true. If you think of some of the most challenging or uncertain times in your life where you needed to make a decision, didn’t you feel so much better once you decided? Even if was hard to do financially or emotionally. Even if you didn’t take any actions to implement that decision. Just the idea that you are so sure and convicted in the decision, was enough for you to follow through with it.
For example: ending an unhealthy relationship, selling a house that you cannot afford, moving away from friends and family to find work, going back to school as a mature student etc.
Once we have mustarded enough courage, foresight and desire to make a decision and stick to it, the rest is details.
Not taking yourself too seriously is a great way to forge relationships
As long as I could remember I have always had a playful attitude and quirky jokes that some may even call cheesy. I laugh, I sing (not very well) and I joke around with family, friends and coworkers. It not only brings the youthful side in me, but it lightens up the mood and brings some laughter in what can be a stressful workday or family situation. When you don’t take yourself so seriously and don’t always feel the need to have your ‘game face’ on, from my experience I find that people are very receptive to that. Of course there is a time and place to be serious, to stop the joking and fooling around, but outside of that, life is too short to be miserable. Have a laugh or two…it’s good for your health.
The happiest relationships are the ones that have no expectations
Now I know that sounds pretty depressing, but hear me out. Many times when we date and the relationship gets serious even leading to marriage, we start to picture our lives with the person we love. Where we will live, what type of house we will buy, how many kids we will have, the places we will go and the people we will meet. Our significant other may even promise us these things or we may dream them up all by ourselves and work our entire lives trying to mold the person we choice to be with to the person we want them to be. This will lead us nowhere, fast. We need to try and accept the person we choice for who they are, not what they have the potential to be. This is still something I am sure we all struggle with, including myself. I have a great husband that I love and I adore and we have had a great relationship for the last 9 years. But every time I find myself trying to mold him into something he is not, I try and catch myself and stop.
Just to be clear, I am not saying to settle or lower your values or moral ground because the person you are with decided to lower or change theirs. Mental or physical abuse, disloyalty, lack of integrity and dishonesty should not be taken lightly. But outside of values and moral grounds, cut your spouse some slack…they may surprise you in the end.