Creation v Goal-setting v Problem solving

Most people spend their entire lives in a loop ranging from:

Problem Solving to Survival, to Stability, to Significance, to More Problem Solving.

The “newest” problem being solved, more often than not, is simply a variation on an old theme and is frequently a direct result of the complacency that comes with success and significance. In other words, we rarely get twenty years of experience….Instead we get one year’s worth of experience twenty times.

Problem solving is a critical and necessary part of our lives as well as our ultimate success. In fact, problem solving requires a specific set of skills and tools (such as thinking, questioning assumptions (“What Don’t I See?”) and making absolutely certain the “problem” being solved is actually the real problem vs. the symptom.

Many times, however, either our circumstances and/or environment radically change, which means the old, “right” way of doing things will no longer work.

Obviously, the “doom loop” entered at this point is working harder and longer to do the “right” things the “right” way instead of the way that produces results. Yesterday’s skills are for yesterday’s problems and what got you here won’t get you there. For most people, goal setting is simply another form of problem solving.

  • We have too much credit card debt, so we set a goal to be more careful with

    our money.

  • Our profits are suffering so we set a goal to increase them by 25%.

  • Morale is low so we develop some team building exercises.

The major problem with most goal setting is that we make where we currently are, wrong, and the goal right. It seems to be human nature that we need something to push away from or to push off of to start the ball rolling. Of course, we all know that dissatisfaction with where we are is a primary motivator in our lives. You will continue to sit in your chair in the exact same position until your body senses some discomfort, and then you will shift. The same is true with all aspects of our lives.

Problem Solving/Goal Setting is a fundamental part of success. However, it is also limiting. The limits are the form we “make up” that the new thing needs to take. This blinds us to the seemingly unconnected random possibilities which are available or which enter our world as we pursue the new thing. We plan and scheme for a certain outcome and in our planning, become more attached to the plan, the how, the process or THE WAY it is supposed to happen than we are to the new thing actually happening, regardless of “the way” in which it arrives.

Frequently, goal setting places an inordinate emphasis on the methodology deployed in achieving the goal and blinds us to the alternate possibilities.

For example, we tend to ignore the unexpected good results which occur in our pursuit of the goal and focus exclusively on the unexpected bad results (or problems). In the process, we spend all our time picking the weeds (which is necessary) and zero time watering our flowers (which is mandatory), much less even noticing them. Thus, the form and methodology something needs to take becomes the Holy Grail and we rarely see the obvious opportunities which present themselves during the process of pursuing our dreams and goals.

Take a look at where you are in your life today. Chances are three things are true:

1. Where you are today is beyond your wildest dreams compared to what you thought was possible when you were sixteen years old.

2. The route you took to get here today was totally unpredictable from your vantage point as a sixteen year old.

3. The path that got you here was anything but straight. If your life even remotely resembles mine, your path is the most circuitous, chaotic route imaginable…. Yet here I am.

How did this happen? It certainly wasn’t massive expertise in problem solving and goal setting, as crucial as those two things are. It was CREATION. There is an exponentially powerful force which is rarely used in the process of achieving our desired outcomes.

It is Creation.

Creation requires a very different set of skills and mindset from problem solving. Creation is about allowing, instead of striving. It is about surrender vs. action. Creation makes the assumption that what we want is all around us and that the only thing required is to destroy the walls that are preventing us from experiencing it vs. goal-setting which forces us into an aggressive stance of erecting walls to keep the undesirable at bay.

Creation is about seeing and seizing the opportunities which present themselves vs. goal setting which is about trying to force or manufacture a desired and predictable outcome. Creation is frequently found at the edges vs. goal setting and problem solving, which take direct aim at the target and squeeze the trigger.

Creation requires immense gratitude for the progress we have made and the results we have achieved while goal setting relies on making our existing condition wrong and less than.

Creation asks the question: What is impossible to do today, but if itcould be done, would fundamentally change my life/business/relationships?

When you are in a creation mode, you will never know all the exact steps and procedures and path to get from where you are to where you want to go. Compare that mentality to your most recent set of goals. Virtually every time we set a goal, we know (or attempt to know) every step we will take prior to beginning the journey and if we don’t know all the steps, we rarely will start the journey. This is analogous to sitting in your driveway in the morning until you know for certain that all the lights between you and your destination will be green once you get under way. Sadly, most journeys never get started and thus, most dreams never achieved.

The questions then become: What are the tired, worn out strategies and tools which you are lugging around with you to solve the new problems caused by new circumstances? What existing models of behaviour do you need to drop? What existing knowledge, training or experience needs to be abandoned? What dreams do you have or what outcomes do you desire for which you currently have no exact formulas or roadmaps?

What are the new strategies and tools you need to learn and whom will you learn them from? Which goals are you pursuing which you don’t know all the answers to so you’re stuck in a holding pattern until you do have them?

Creation is a companion and not a replacement for goal setting.

Both are necessary. Both are required.

The success you ultimately achieve, however, will have more to do with the opportunities you create, recognize and seize than the problems you solve.