Saturday, December 10, 2016

Problematic Opportunities & Opportunistic Problems

Okay, grab a pen and paper before you read any further. Or open a fresh Word document or a note on your phone--just something to write with.

Ready? Set? Go.

First question: What are three of the problems you're facing right now? Quick, write them down--whatever comes to mind. It's only a three item list, but my guess is it's either annoying or depressing to look at it, isn't it? That's okay. The next step will be even more annoying, at least at first.

Because now I want you to write down as many benefits to having each of those problems as you can think of. All of the positive things about them. All of the good things that can come out of them. There is at least one thing to be found for each problem, probably many more.

As part of our ongoing college class on attitude, we did this exercise earlier this week. It really gave me pause. Those problems I listed? For a long time I've viewed them as limitations.

My job is a setback to achieving my dreams.

It's really hard for a young adult to make money.

Because of my personality I can't do ____.

But are they truly limitations? In a way, I suppose they are. But these obstacles are not nearly so insurmountable as I think. The greatest obstacle is in my mindset. Do I see these things as problems, or as challenges? As opportunities?

For years, athletes believed that running a mile in four minutes or less was physically impossible. Until a man named Roger Bannister broke the record. After that, runner after runner after runner broke the four-minute mile . . . because they believed they could.

The more cynical among us may dismiss this whole attitude/positive thinking thing as a mere mind game, but I disagree. There's tremendous power in your words. The words you think, but especially spoken words. And if you think something often enough, it will come out verbally. As you continue to reinforce those words, they will turn into beliefs--often subconscious ones--and people will act based on their deep-seated beliefs. There's scientific and Biblical evidence for that.

So what do you believe about those problems staring back from your screen or piece of paper? How are you limiting yourself?

God doesn't limit us. He designed us in His image, full of His nature--as believers, full of His Spirit. The only limits are those we place on ourselves.

The first step towards breaking past those limitations is changing our perspectives. I'm not discounting your problems, by the way. They're real. They're hard. But there's more within your control than you may think! Start seeing the good in those situations.

Is my retail job a setback on my way to becoming an author? Maybe not completely. I'm paying my way through college with money from that job. I'm learning valuable leadership and people skills. I'm learning how to sell a product. After all, what's the difference between a pair of jeans and a book? There's got to be some common sales principles I can transfer from one to the other.

Is the system really designed against young adults, the newbies trying to work past their entry-level jobs? Try Googling a list of the current youngest entrepreneurs. There are some very young people making a crazy amount of money. More people than ever are striving to think outside the box. Why can't I forge multiple avenues for myself and use my imagination?

Is my personality preventing me from doing things? Or is some of that just learned behavior, habits I can replace? I'll never stop being an introvert, but I can learn to step out of my comfort zone more and be friendlier. I can grow leadership skills so that becomes more natural. I can become less controlling, more flexible and spontaneous, and more affirming of teammates even when I'm focused on a task.

What about you? Are those problems a little less daunting now? When we view them as opportunities and challenges, life becomes a thrilling adventure rather than a series of backbreaking trials. Maybe tackling all three at once is overwhelming, but attitude is contagious. Pick one and decide to change your attitude about it . . . and watch what happens as it spills into other areas of your life!

(Hint: it works even better when you invite God into the process and ask for His help.)

What's one problem, big or miniscule, on which you're resolving to change your attitude? Share in the comments, and let's motivate each other to find new perspectives and march forth with courage. Our adventures await us.


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  2. I've definitely been freaked out about finishing high school and figuring out what to do next (even though it's two-and-a-half years away). I need to realize that it's all in God's hands, and He has plans for us more wonderful thank we could ever imagine. Thank you SO MUCH for this post, Tracey!!


    1. Ah yes, the dreaded graduation... XD It can be a scary thing, but also an incredibly awesome, exciting thing. It was definitely a lesson in trusting God for me too.

      He's got SUCH amazing plans for you, Olivia! I think too often we get caught up in trying to figure out what His ONE path is for us, when the main thing is to love God and love people. The rest is details. (If you're anything like me, you're like, "But I want a detailed roadmap!!!" XD)

    2. I totally want a whole map! XD That's kinda how I view the next years of my life after I graduate. (That's so weird to say... "after I graduate, after I GRADUATE! Gah! That's too freaky to think about!)
      Thanks for the awesome post, Tracey! I will have to try that thingie with the fears and writing them down and thinking about the good that could come out of it. XD

    3. Saaaaame! XD Even now, two years after leaving high school, I still wish for a map. (Oh my goodness, that IS weird to hear you talking about after you graduate. O.O MY CHLOE IS GROWING UP. *sniffle*) But God has some seriously awesome things in store for you. Keep loving and trusting Him. He'll show you each new step you need to take. And that's all you really need--just the next step.

      Thank YOU, darling! I'm glad it was helpful! <333

  3. YOUR POSTS, TRACEY. YOUR POSTS. They are always SO. TIMELY. See, this morning I was kinda...having an attitude toward certain things in my life and complaining. I even groaned out the stereotypical "Ugh, I hate my life sometimes". XD (It's really nothing to worry about, I promise! I'm just a drama queen...) And then I come and read this!!

    I really need to do this exercise! I absolutely love this. While I was reading this I was running through my problems in my mind and thinking about how they could be actually useful, and I'm already feeling more hopeful!

    I liked your running a mile in four minutes analogy! I guess that's the thing about obstacles--in the end, they make us stronger and MORE equipped for whatever it is we're trying to do. If everything came easy, where would be the sense of accomplishment? Why would we strive to do anything? Where would be the faith? God puts obstacles before us for a reason--to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him.

    But not everything is an obstacle. Sometimes we have specific traits for a purpose. I totally get your struggle with your personality getting in the way of things. I do that all. the. time. But then I have to remember, God gave me this personality for a reason, and it's something to embrace. (I mean, I need to work on my bad attitude and such. XD But you know what I mean!) He has a purpose for every single thing He has given us. I seem to forget that a lot...

    I also think your retail job will have lots of benefits! That's the wonderful thing about being a writer, we learn from EVERYTHING. Just being around people and having experiences and, yeah, even the business side of things. Every little thing we do helps in some form or fashion in the writing life. I don't believe your job is a setback at all!

    And I'm writing a novel here. Oops! I just love this post and ideas SO. MUCH. Thank you for sharing with us all these wonderful things you're learning at college. You're a light in this world, Tracey. *huggles*

    1. That is SO COOL how it came at the right time for you! Seriously, that blows me away every time. (LOL, I'm a drama queen too... And it's easy to make the day's problems seem so much bigger in my mind than they really are. So I getcha.)

      See, even just starting to think of our problems in a new light makes a difference! This is most definitely something I have to remind myself of d a i l y.

      Challenges make the victory sweeter, I agree, and with them we have the opportunity to build the character we need for the next challenge! And it's amazing to look back on our lives and see how God uses the hard things we encounter... how He redeems them for His purposes.

      Yeah, because there's only one YOU, right? (As cliché as it may be to say it!) I have to remember even my personality has a purpose. That there are people I'M designed to reach that maybe no one else can. ^_^

      It's so true! Any kind of life experience fuels and influences our writing, so in that sense nothing is ever a waste. Thanks, dearie!

      But that's what we do--write novels. So there's no need to apologize for that! XDDD Thank you, Christine! Your responses to posts like these always end up encouraging me right back. *huggles*

  4. Ah, what a lovely post! I did the steps, and I must say, you brought up some excellent points and as usual, you have a beautiful and clear writing style. :)

    Most of the first three things I listed were immaterial concepts such as different doubts, fears, losses, desperations, guilts + failures. And when I tried to come up with the good in them, there were distinct common threads: all of them had the potential to/already were bringing me closer to God. All of them steer me away from what others think and towards Him. All of them are teaching me the ultimate Confidence in the face of hard fear.

    And really? That's a huge blessing. Especially when I think about it when I'm just really struggling. And even though it's hard to think past this life, I do know that this is not our home.

    So yes. Thank you. This post is definitely food for thought for many, I'm sure! <3

    1. Thank you muchly, Emily! :)

      *checks off all those boxes* Yep, I hear you. Sometimes we won't admit that those immaterial hardships ARE actually hard, you know? But God keeps using all those things too, working them for our good. When I look back and see what He's already done with the things I've faced, suddenly my current obstacles are reason to be excited. Because who knows what He's going to do with these?

      That brings to mind the part in C.S. Lewis's "The Last Battle" where he said that this life is like the prologue, and eternity is the rest of the book to come. ^_^

      Thank YOU again! <3

  5. This is an interesting exercise. I may try this.

  6. This is something I definitely need to work on. >.> I need serious help in this area. -_- *cough* Ahem. XD Great post, as always! Sometimes I feel like if I would just apply all your helpful posts in my life, that I'd have everything figured out... Funny how the applying part is a lot harder than the reading part...

    Also, FYI, I tagged you for a snippet tag! No pressure to do it, obviously. ^_^

    1. Honestly, ME TOO. It's so easy for me to slip into a grouchy attitude about things. Hopefully this is one of those things that will get a little easier with practice. XD

      LOL, I'm happy there've been that many helpful posts, but I have to say if *I* applied them more, life would be better for me too. Theory is easy. The practical...well, not so much. But here's to spurring each other onwards! *raises sword*

      Oooh, fun, fun! Thank you, dearie! I'm thinking I'll do a massive tag catch up (a la O'Carroll style) sometime in January. ^_^

  7. Nice post!
    And speaking of nice posts, I tagged you on my blog, Tracey! :)

    1. Haha, just saw comment above, that's funny. Two tags on one post from two different people... Man, Tracey, you're popular! :D

    2. Thank you, Belle Anne! (Love the name Belle, by the way!) Haha, I'm happy to accumulate those tags--they're great rescuers when I'm too busy to put together a nicely thought-out post. XD Like I mentioned to Deborah, I might be catching up on all my tags next month. Thanks again!