Problems Are Decisions Waiting to Happen

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

What do you do when faced with a problem? For most of us, problems, like other threats, invoke our “fight or flight” instincts. We might rail at the problem, or the source of the problem, to vent our anger at having yet one more mess to fix. Or, we might put off dealing with the problem, telling ourselves we will handle it later, when we have more time or can really focus on it. The fact is, the only way to get rid of a problem is to solve it.

In our day-to-day work we usually encounter two types of problems, those that can be solved and those that are ongoing. Problems that are ongoing, like difficult clients or constantly changing technologies, cannot be solved. They have to be managed. They require a plan and regular monitoring—and a large dose of patience. Railing at them or avoiding them won’t make them go away.

Problems that can be solved are easier, if not always pleasant, to deal with. In most cases, what is needed is a decision. And the sooner you make that decision, the sooner you can put that problem behind you and get back to work.

So why is it that we procrastinate instead of making a decision? We may be wedded to our original idea or sense of how things ought to be, and are reluctant to give that up. We may not like the alternatives, although eventually we will have to settle for one. We know the outcome is going to be unpleasant for us or someone else. Regardless, delaying the decision only prolongs the agony of having to make a decision. If you need more information in order to make a good decision, that’s one thing. If you just dread making the decision, then take a deep breath and take the plunge. You’ll be glad you did. Usually our fears are much worse than reality.

Sometimes a problem can even be an opportunity. It can force us to rethink a solution, try a new approach, get outside our usual creative box, and discover resources we didn’t know we had. Also, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Two or more heads can be better than one when it comes to making decisions and finding solutions. And, group decision-making takes the pressure off of being the one who has to make the call.

In any case, as the ads say, “Just do it.” When you think in terms of making a decision, you’ll be surprised at how many “problems” don’t really seem like problems any more.

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