So What’s The Problem?

‘I need a large storage unit,’ I said to my friend as we browsed Ikea a few years ago. Newly single, I was setting up my home from scratch and frankly, I was quite clueless as to what I needed.

I was delighted when we found a unit about 7 feet high and 2 feet deep. That was until it got home! From the moment the unit was assembled; I abhorred the very sight of it. It was meant to solve my storage problems but very soon I realized that storage was only a perceived problem. I was actually quite minimalistic and this ghastly monster was the real problem! It just had to go so I eventually gave it away to a very grateful family.

So why am I telling you this?

You see, as we set foot into another year, I see many of us launching new goals and even reviving old ones. Then there are a few of us who don’t have specific goals yet feel the need to blend in so are setting a few anyway.

I sense that some of us have also managed to get our Christmas presents aligned to our goals to help get us started. Those looking to read more might have received a Kindle while those looking to free up some time from kitchen chores might have looked towards kitchen gadgets in a desire to automate their kitchens. And of course, many of us are looking to get fit again and have selected wearable technology or even a posh gym membership.

I bet they are all amazing considerations that ought to help us through our well-intended journeys that lie ahead; journeys that will involve peaks and troughs despite the best preparation – and I bet you can’t wait to get stuck in!

But just before you go all out spending valuable time and energy trying to achieve those goals, take a moment to think through these three questions.

  • What problem are you trying to solve? Often, we idolize certain goals because they have worked for someone else, or simply because they appear to be on trend. I mean what can go wrong with beginning to have cider vinegar tablets, turmeric capsules and charcoal shots. They must be popular for a reason. And yes, that recliner is still selling at 50% so why not give it a go? I’m certainly not saying that all goals have to be linked to a need. I asked my son why he needed to watch the Arsenal vs West Ham game today and he said, ‘mum, you don’t watch football, you feel it.’ Okay, I get it, yet it’s worth checking lest you end up with another monster of a cabinet to maintain which you didn’t even need in the first place.
  • Will this goal solve the problem? At other times, even though we have a genuine problem and a genuine solution, we just assume that the two are connected. Let me give you another example here. A few months ago, I was coaching someone. When we began the conversation, it appeared that his goal was to grow, e.g. get a promotion. Yet when we dug deeper, we discovered that they really just wanted a better work-life balance and continue to feel sufficiently challenged while finding the balance. By the end of the chat, we were clear that the solution wasn’t very connected to the true problem and actually in chasing the imaginary solution they could further aggravate the work-life balance.
  • Is this the best way to achieve the goal? There are several ways to achieve a goal and often I find that we say that we like simple solutions but in actual fact, we devour complexity. It’s like asking for a girlfriend who’s like ‘the girl next door’ while turning a blind eye to such a girl all along because she’s just next-door!

Or let’s look at the Kindle example. Let’s assume you are getting a Kindle because you just don’t read enough. I would argue perhaps that if you did enjoy reading in the first place, paper books aren’t totally impractical so there is more to the diminished reading it than it may first appear. Maybe you struggle to make time or perhaps your eyes are exhausted staring at your computer screen for long hours and so by the end of the day, you don’t want to have a focus attention on yet another device. If time is the issue, perhaps you could try an app like Blinkist, which gives you key messages from books in the form of short blinks. And if you don’t enjoy reading, perhaps you might fancy something like ‘Audible’ so you could listen to the book instead.

I guess by now you see my point – problems and solutions need to connect.

Goals need to be SMART but before that, they need to be purposeful and sensible.

So before you set off to chase the dream, take a moment to confirm that this is in fact is your dream!

Once you have done that, take my wishes with you & hey, leave no stone unturned….

Happy 2019!

Professional Speaking Association


EMCC – Senior Practitioner Coach

Accredited Coach



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