Identify the problem
— Gretchen Rubin
In Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, she lists twelve personal commandments. I tend to think of these as rules for adulthood. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about number eight on her list: Identify the problem.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? I mean, if you are unhappy with something or feeling frustrated, you already know what the problem is, right?
Not so much. At least, not for me.
For example, as I was getting ready to walk out the door recently, I found myself in the all-too-common situation of rushing around looking for my keys and sunglasses. I hate that! More stress, more tension, making myself late, just because my stupid keys are missing.
(Please, please tell me that I’m not the only one who does this!)
I managed to find my keys and make it to my appointment on time. Thank goodness. Afterwards, I had a conversation with myself.
Self: Barb, you recently read The Happiness Project. Learn from it! Identify the problem. Where are the keys?
Barb: I don’t know where they are once I get home. I have a particular place set aside to put the keys when I walk in the door. But I rarely put the keys there.
Self: Why don’t you put the keys in that location?
Barb: The spot for keys is near the door, but not on the way in or out. When I walk in the door carrying things (groceries, the mail, kids’ backpacks, my laptop — you get the idea), I rarely go even a few steps out of my way to put the keys in that out-of-my-path spot.
Self: What would solve this problem?
Barb: Move the spot for key storage! Doh!
It sounds so simple. In fact, I feel sort of ridiculous admitting it. But the fact is that I had never identified the problem. Once I realized that the spot for keys was inconvenient, I started keeping the keys in a different place. I chose the spot in the kitchen where I charge my cell phone. Even though it’s farther from the door, it’s more convenient for me on the way into the house. And on my way out, I can grab my phone and my keys and be on my way.
And guess what? I rarely lose my keys in the house anymore.
Now, if only I could find my sunglasses… 😀