Financial achievement is often preceded by a financial challenge. I found this to be true for almost every high earner I’ve interviewed. Right before she broke through her earnings barrier, she decided to tackle a problem that plagued her.
Problems are life’s way of trying to get our attention. All problems have a purpose. Understanding that purpose is the key to solving it. The more we ignore life’s gentle prodding, the worse the problem becomes — not to punish us, but to push us forward.
The crucial first step in responding to problems is simply to own them, without shame, blame, judgment, or even having a solution in sight.
You own your problem the moment you admit what’s not working in your life. It may sound easy, but this is by far the hardest part. Facing a problem, looking it straight in the eye, even if you haven’t a clue what to do about it — especially if you haven’t a clue — can be a terrifying proposition.
Telling the truth means coming out of denial — one of life’s most painful experiences. Our instinct usually is to either ignore the problem (“The universe will take care of me”) or justify its existence (“It’s no big deal; everyone is in debt”). Yet, the truth is, accepting reality is the only thing that will eventually set us free. As someone once said, the truth will set us free, but first, it makes us angry.
A problem could be anything from bankruptcy to burnout; from feeling undervalued to being overworked; from getting a divorce to desperately wanting one. No matter how small and subtle, or how sizable and scary, your willingness to face the problem head-on is the first step to breaking through it.
Once we realize our challenges are purposeful, they need no longer be painful. Once we stop seeing them as stumbling blocks, we can start using them as stepping-stones. Instead of waiting until you’re ready, you can take a single baby step, followed by another. And when you slip up, as you surely will, you’ll simply get back up and keep moving forward, even though every cell in your body is screaming at you to stop. Instead of believing your excuses (though they seem so valid), you understand that problems are your teacher, pointing the way to the immense freedom and power you’ll find on the other side.
Indeed, the moment you stop waiting and start acting, you have the opportunity to walk through a doorway to a richer, fuller, more abundant life. What is one problem you could face head-on today? You don’t have to deal with all of them; just one. Face it, not because someone told you to, or you should, but because you can, you will, and the rewards will be more than worth it.
Barbara Stanny is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.