Pick the Perfect Problems

All facets of our lives will have problems of some sort, here’s why — and how to pick your problems and ultimately your life.

Josh Nelson
Jun 2, 2019 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

As the profound writer of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, Mark Manson says, “The only question you need to ask yourself is, ‘What flavor of shit sandwich do you like best?’”. If you don’t understand what that means, I didn’t either. I’ll explain.

What this question means is that no matter what you choose to do with your life there will be problems. We need to stop trying to achieve and reach material objects as our goals but shift to trying to achieve problems. Here’s why.

A problem is only a problem because of the lens in which you look at it. Think of some problems you might have in your life right now. Working 9–5, student-loan debt, or rent payments all can suck. But only if you let them.

To someone who is unemployed, couldn’t go to college, or is homeless, any of these problems are good, maybe even great problems. They would choose these problems. And this is what I want to get at. Now that you know some of the problems you have, look at someone who you would want to be.

Instead of thinking about what objects they have, whether it be money, boats, planes, houses, or whatever it is. Think about what problems they have in their life. Paying high taxes, maintenance of their boats, or even running a business are all problems to them. But they are problems you would choose. Here’s why.

Just visualizing what objects you want, sadly doesn’t get you to reach your goals. It’s easy to just want something. And just wanting something does not work. If you only want to create a Fortune 100 business for the benefits, when you get hit with all of those problems, get ready to be swamped.

Real goal setting is asking ourselves, “What problems do we want to have in our life?”. To reach goals and build success, you need to choose your problems. Choose every aspect of your dream life, not just the good ones. You will never reach success if you are naive and only look at the good outcomes.

You could obtain the goal, but not sustain it. You need to be prepared for the problems that come along with your vision of success. You need to choose them.

Choosing your problems allows you to go deeper into goal setting, visualization, and eventually success. This philosophy allows you to better focus on your purpose, and if you don’t have a purpose in your life, this will most definitely help you find one.

If you can find a dream or a goal, and you want the problems that come along with it, you are more likely to obtain it. But before you can reach your goals you need to be able to pick your problems. Here’s how.

First, think of your goal.

Next, think of all of the problems that would be associated with that goal. Forget about the benefits of your goal, focusing on the problems will tell you if you want it for the right reasons.

Here’s an example. A goal of mine is to write a best selling book. I can list all of the benefits of this book without thinking hard at all. Stuff like changing lives, making money, building credibility, all the things I would want. But I have to forget about those things and focus on the problems first.

Some problems I would have if I were to achieve this goal are, a lot of hard work researching and writing. The emotional stress before publishing. Finding a publisher & marketing the book too, are all problems that come with writing a best selling book. But quite frankly, they are problems I want to have.

Once you have created problems for yourself, you can then create problems for others. That is where real change happens.

Changing the world starts by creating better problems. Think about it this way, in 1950 no one on Earth would think that not having WiFi would ever be a problem, in fact, they didn’t even know what it was. When the founders created WiFi, they created a better problem for everyone. And with good problems comes even better benefits.

The eventual success you may have will rely on your ability to create problems for yourself and others.

Regardless of your career, regardless of your goals, choose problems. Once you reach your goals and reach your problems, create more to help change the world, one problem at a time.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Josh Nelson

Written by

Product Designer at CBS Sports | Passionate about designing and building delightful experiences | DM me on Twitter — @jnelly2

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Josh Nelson

Written by

Product Designer at CBS Sports | Passionate about designing and building delightful experiences | DM me on Twitter — @jnelly2

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store