“Dad, I don’t know how to do it. It’s too hard.”
Sitting at the kitchen table attempting to help my oldest son work on a math assignment was like continuously slapping Ronda Rousey trying to start a fight. Situations just like this are always explosive. Ian is a know it all even when he doesn’t know it all and when he doesn’t know it all it gets frustrated because he doesn’t know it all. Are you still with me? In other words, he is frustrated when he doesn’t already know how to do something perfectly. I think he gets it from his mom. (Don’t tell her I said that.)
While battling his latest challenge in the math arena, he sizes up his opponent and immediately runs for the hills. The problem before him is unlike anything he had ever seen before. It didn’t show any signs of being easy. It looked like a sweaty, muscular, and powerful giant equipped to lead him to an early death.
See Also: Stories About Overcoming Adversity
“Ian!” I screamed in a typical I’m up too early on a Saturday adult fashion. “You can’t play the game until you finish your work.”
“It’s too hard.” Ian whines in response.
“Well the longer you take to finish, the less time you are going to have to play. You can take a few minutes to figure it out or you can waste your time and then take a few minutes to figure it out. Don’t waste more time avoiding the problem than it takes to solve it.”
Two hours later, after sitting at the table and doodling on the paper, I come by to check on Ian’s progress.
“I just don’t get it.” he continues to complain.
I look over his shoulder down at the problem located in his book and then stare him in the eye with the sad look of extreme disappointment.
“IS THIS THE PROBELM YOU HAVE BEEN STUCK ON?” I explode sarcastically
“Yes, it’s too difficult.” Ian fires back quickly.
“Wow! Ian do me a huge favor and…read the directions?”
The problem Ian had been struggling to complete was so simple but he failed to read the instructions. He didn’t have to solve the problem. He only had to identify what type of problem it was. He lost out on two hours for something that only took him two seconds to complete.
From this experience with Ian I learned a valuable lesson about avoiding problems that I could immediately apply. In my career, family, and spiritual life there were some problems that I had been avoiding as well. After watching Ian waste his evening, here are three strong reasons I stopped avoiding my problems. I would suggest you do the same if you want to live a fulfilling life
1. Waste of Time
I could scream over and over again that time is precious and that avoiding problems is a waste of that time. Instead, I want to share with you a snippet I found from in the book “Today Matters,” by John C. Maxwell that changed my perspective on the value of time:
To know the value of one year … ask the student who failed the final exam.
To know the value of one month … ask the mother of a premature baby.
To know the value of one week… ask the editor of a weekly newsmagazine.
To know the value of one day…ask the wage earner who has six children.
To know the value of one hour…ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To know the value of one minute… ask the person who missed the plane.
To know the value of one second… ask the person who survived the accident.
To know the value of one millisecond… ask the Olympic silver medalist.
Every time you waste a moment avoiding your problems is time that could be spent doing something that really matters. Don’t continue to squander your time avoiding something you are going to have to do anyway.
2. Stops/Slows Progress
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over.” John Wooden
I can’t move forward to step three if I completely avoid step one. For example, attempting to get your financial life in order is done through a process. This process includes creating a budget, paying off debt, saving, and planning for retirement in some variation. If you want to save money for a future major purchase like a home or a car, it might be beneficial to start by making sure you spend less than you earn. Spending every dime you have and living check to check is not going to help you save. You will not make any progress on your saving goal if you don’t have any money to save.
If you want to make progress, you have to stop avoiding your problems. It is stopping you from moving forward.
3. Solutions Are Often Easier Than You Expect
“Better than three hours too soon than a minute to late.” William Shakesphere
After waiting two hours, Ian’s problem took him two seconds to complete. I can relate and say I have had experiences just like that. For three weeks I put off making a call I was terrified of. In my head this conversation would be a brutal life altering argument where at the end a relationship would be shattered and a rift in the time space continuum would cause the end of the world. You see how dramatic I am?
When I made the call, it was not nearly as bad as I imagined. It was pleasant, encouraging, and positively influential in my life. Every experience may not turn out positive like this one but most of them are not as cataclysmic as we imagine in our heads.
See Also: When The Smoke Clears
Ian lost two hours avoiding a problem. Over a lifetime how much time have you wasted avoiding your problems? The way to get the life you want, you have to stop trying to avoid your problems but instead go through them. Don’t waste your time, stop your progress, or imagine a doomsday scenario in your head related to a situation you must go through to be our best.
The fastest distance between two points is a straight line right through your problems. Today, I challenge you to live courageously.