We all know people who look at their glass half empty, who automatically see the problem or potential obstacles with an idea before you’ve even starting explaining it.  Those that are always playing the “devil’s advocate”. 

For whatever reason, perhaps the environment in which they grew up, the lessons they learned in their career, or simply going through ‘hard knocks’…some people have formed a habit of focusing on life’s obstacles.

If this sounds like you, and you want to see the world differently, I’m here to tell you that you can.  You have the power to make a shift in your focus if you want to.

The flip side is being solution focused.  Being solution focused doesn’t mean you have to have your rose-colored glasses on all the time.  It doesn’t mean everything will be perfect and always work out great.  It means that you maintain a vision of positive possibility – believing that you can find an answer, that everything is figureoutable, and that you’ll be able to move forward despite the challenges you face.

A perfect opportunity to examine these two perspectives is as we head into the last 1/3 of the month.  With 10 days to go until the end of month, are you focusing on why you won’t be able to reach your goals, or looking for creative ways to reach your goals??  

So…if you have a habit of focusing on the obstacles in life, but you’d rather focus on the solutions, here are 3 steps to help you turn that around. 

1. Notice that you’re doing it and realize you can change. 
When something is ingrained as a habit, it’s often difficult to notice because we think, “That’s the way I am”. Often, this way of focusing has protected you, kept you from making a mistake or going down a dangerous road. And…it may have kept you from really enjoying life, or going for your adventures or goals. Know that you that you can make a change. It might take a while, it might not be easy, but know that you can do it.

2. Practice focusing on solutions. 
When you come upon a situation where you would automatically focus on the obstacles, stop yourself. (It helps to have someone nearby that knows you have a goal to change and can gently remind you about your new resolve.) Change your wording. For example, try saying, “What if something good happens?”, instead of, “This could be really bad.” Use your “What if’s” for positive instead of negative. Often, we don’t know what’s going to happen.We can’t see the end from the beginning. And, you know what? Maybe that’s OK.

3. Give yourself grace. 
Even though we want change to be easy and to have a new habit mastered overnight, that’s not how it works. Remember that it will take time. Little by little, situation by situation, you’ll start to see a change toward living a more solution-focused life. As you replace your words and thoughts in each situation, get support from those around you and notice successes, you will be encouraged to continue to open yourself to possibility and more fully focus on solutions when challenges arise.
This week, a situation came up with our 10-month old puppy where I was focused on the obstacles.  We have a front patio surrounded by a wall that’s about three feet tall.  The puppy loves to sit out there and visit with people and dogs who pass by.  We knew that eventually, she would be able to jump over the wall and escape into the street…and it happened on Tuesday.  It really threw me for a loop.  I started contacting friends and a realtor, trying to see if we could find another rental asap…even though we love where we live.  Instead of thinking about possible solutions I could create on the patio, I went right to the worst…that we’d have to move. Luckily, while telling a friend about the situation, I realized that I could rig a system where the puppy could still spend time outside, but also be safe.  After a visit to the local hardware store, I set it up…and after a couple of days, I think we’re going to be OK. 

All of us can, at times, be focused on the obstacles…but we’ll live a happier, more fulfilling life if we try to look at the possible solutions to challenges.