Getting Problems Out of a Blurry Background

February 27, 2024

Hi dreamer, Emily here.

Here's a wild thought experiment brought to you today by Jelly Bellies. In an informal sort of way (I just ate a handful) đŸ˜€

A question:

What if you could get answers only to the problems you have written down on paper? Put another way, what if the things you are stress about but don't describe on paper could not ever be resolved or alleviated?

I'm not talking just the headline of the problem, like "My neighbor is impossible/obnoxious/the worst." But what specifically you're stewing about. All the details of the situation.

This may seem obvious, but it's amazing how often we (me included) try to solve problems things that stay poorly defined in our heads.

An example:

A guy approached me after a talk and shared with me that he was considering bankruptcy. After a lifetime of mostly responsible living, a business situation and some other life happenings landed him in a financial pickle and bankruptcy felt like his only way out.

I don't know much more than that about his situation, and since he wasn't asking for advice, I didn't give him any. Beyond this: "Get your situation down on paper."

It'd be a real shame to decide to do something drastic when you haven't actually looked at it from all angles in the way you only can when it's outside your head, on paper. You can quantify

Solutions and options blend into a blurry background. Your situation will remain blurry as long as it remains in your head.

Ideas for things to put on paper about a variety of problems:

  • Exactly how much debt you have.
  • Exactly how much your life costs on an average monthly basis. This is a real thing, even if your income potentially fluctuates.
  • What specifically about my neighbor situation bothers me so much? How is it actually affecting me versus what am I just worrying about?
  • Why you would and why you wouldn't go to a "maybe" event.
  • All the possible options in a situation.
  • What the hole in your wardrobe really is, so you don't keep buying more shirts when what you really need is pants. (This has been the story of my recent life).
  • Label the emotion you're feeling. Bored? Afraid? Dejected? Overwhelmed? If you use the latter, be sure to list out what is overwhelming you.

A quote for thought:

"No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself. No man is free who cannot command himself."

Pythagorus the Math Guy of all people said that. I don't claim to command myself fully. But it's my quest to improve in it like I think it's yours too. It's why I think and write and share about the things I do.

If you liked this, there's a bunch more letters and articles on my site about intentional money and life stuff, some pretty tactical if you're into that.

That's it for now! Stay wonderfully you, and keep dreaming and doing.

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