Exchanging Problems

Let’s follow the short tale of Richard and his five problems.

We begin as Richard is seeking a job.  At this point he’s unemployed and can barely pay his rent (Problem #1).

Finally after months of searching Richard lands a job.  Though he can pay his rent, Richard finds his job unfulfilling and dreads going to work (Problem #2).

Thankfully Richard is a hard worker, and manages to rise the ranks into a position he is satisfied with.  All good right?  Wrong.  Despite the fact Richard has a job he likes, the job offers no work life balance (Problem #3).

Richard learns how to properly manage his time better, which results in more free time.  With more flexibility, Richard decides to consistently hit the gym.  He realizes pretty quickly his fitness has dropped significantly since high school (Problem #4).

As we know Richard is a disciplined guy.  After months of training Richard gets into the best shape of his life.  Anxious to test his endurance, Richard begins researching upcoming marathons in his area but can’t seem to find any (Problem #5).

What do you notice about the problems as they progress?  How does Problem #1 (unemployed/can’t pay rent) compare to Problem #5 (can’t find nearby marathon race)? It’s safe to assume all of us would rather deal with finding a marathon compared to finding a job.  Richard’s problems decrease in severity as each problem is properly addressed.

What Richard is doing is exchanging bad problems for less bad problems.  Obviously Richard doesn’t exist, but many of us have faced similar problems.  Once a problem is solved, we upgrade to a less serious or better problem that didn’t exist before.  This is a never-ending cycle throughout our lives.  The ideal scenario isn’t to have no problems, but rather reach a point in which the problems you’re dealing with are minimal in the grander scheme of things.

I used to think all problems were bad.  That is the furthest thing from reality.  There are good problems and bad problems.  We can all think of examples of bad problems.  But when is comes to good problems, we still manage to exhaust ourselves stressing over them.  The next time you’re stuck in the grocery line, remind yourself that’s a good problem to have.  Instead of the problem being a long line, it could have been not having enough money to buy the groceries in the first place.  Good problems serve as a a reminder we’ve reached a point in which the bad problems have been solved.

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