A very important fact of problem solving is that we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them, as Albert Einstein’s famous quote goes. In life, you will definitely face many problems and sometimes even severe setbacks. From time to time, life will seem totally unfair, hard and burdensome. Sometimes you may even feel like there is no solution to your problems. But in fact, there is always a step you can take towards a better life.
Many situations in life demand from you to be creative and find an innovative solution. Proactively looking for new ways is the opposite of feeling sorry for yourself and giving up. Everyone can be creative and innovation is the essence of progress, including in your own life, especially if you find yourself in tough situations or want massive success. Thus when facing problems, think hard on how you could innovate your way out.
Let’s look at an example now.
A few years ago I started going to the gym. I never did any sports before in my life and thus I didn’t have really strong muscular foundations. After a few visits to the gym, I got pretty enthusiastic and started to increase the weight I lifted very fast. Legal supplements like creatine gave me extra power and enabled me to lift even more. But because I had no strong foundations, I of course hurt myself. I damaged my shoulder blades, elbow and wrist of my right arm – joints and ulnar nerve.
After the injury, it was obvious that going to the gym and working hard on my muscles was not an option anymore. I felt really depressed. Truly depressed. For the first time in my life, I got enthusiastic about a sport, I could see my progress well, but now such a setback. I never thought that I’d feel depressed about not doing sports.
In the beginning, I was stubborn, of course. “No pain, no gain”, as I’ve read in many articles and magazines. Thus I went to the gym a few times just right after my arm felt a little bit better. With this kind of thinking, I damaged my arm even more. I tried to solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that created it. “If I train harder, it will stop hurting,” I said to myself. How stupid.
I needed to innovate my way out of the situation. I wanted to stay active and improve my fitness level. On the other hand, going to the gym wasn’t an option anymore. Thus I had entered the search mode, looking for sports I could do without hurting my arm. Along the way, it also became more than obvious that I’d have to strengthen my core muscles and improve flexibility if I wanted to do any sports seriously again in my life.
I’ve tried many different sports and found a few that I can do without my arm hurting that much. Hiking (without hiking sticks), swimming, a few exercises like squats, etc. In addition to that, I’ve also found out that yoga, stretching and doing core exercises (planking, resistance band training etc.) really helps me a lot. Massages are a bonus on top of that. My progress is slower, of course, but the foundations will be much stronger in the long term for sure.
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Sometimes you have to take one step back in order to take two steps further. Sometimes your foundations are not strong enough for the masterpiece you want to build. Sometimes you push yourself too hard in the wrong kind of way and experience a severe setback. Just pushing forward with something that doesn’t work makes no sense. The definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome, if we go back to Einstein’s quotes. You have to stop and think. In that kind of a situation, you have to innovate your way out.
There is always a step that can take you closer to your goal. It may not be a linear step, but life is never a linear path. It’s full of ups and downs, rights and lefts, sprints and stops. Life is supposed to be a daring adventure taking you to different places you’ve never even imagined; nice ones and difficult ones. That is how you grow.
You will face challenges in all areas of life. When you face a challenge, don’t rush and don’t panic. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Start thinking. Start looking for new ways of getting out of the hole. Start being creative. Start innovating. Regardless of the area of life you’re facing challenges in.
You can fire off your creative potential by asking yourself the right questions. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, find a quiet place, take a piece of paper and a pen, and start thinking. Start analysing, start reflecting, think about new ways for improving and taking a step further in life. Start asking yourself difficult questions and look for unconventional solutions.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What are 20 things I can do and haven’t thought about yet to improve my situation?
- What will happen if I go into the opposite direction?
- Which are the best books that deal with my kind of situation and propose solutions? (read them)
- Which negative behavioural patterns led me to where I am now?
- How can I start doing things differently?
- Which effort will bring the best results the fastest?
- Who can help me – a friend, formal institution etc.?
- What are the resources I can engage to get out of the situation faster?
- What is optimal thinking in this kind of situations?
- What would [x] do? Where [x] can be Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michel Jordan or whoever your role model is.
- Why should I fight?
Innovating your way out is not about getting rid of hardship and burden. It’s not about finding an easy way out (maybe only sometimes). It’s not about a miraculous solution that will easily solve your problems and take your life into a totally different direction. It’s about finding hope that it can be done. It’s about finding a path that encourages you and gives you strength and willpower to move forward. Innovating your way out is about striking an early win that motivates you to stand up and start walking.
There’s one more catch when it comes to innovating your way out. Every innovation usually brings a decrease in short-term productivity and an increase in long term-productivity. Thus innovating your way out is the harder step in the beginning. It takes additional courage and effort to do it. But with time, the hard road becomes easy and the easy road becomes hard.
Innovating your way out doesn’t mean doing anything stupid. It doesn’t mean finding a way to put out all of your aggression and dissatisfaction. It means finding a smarter way to get out of your situation. It means leveling up your skills, your thinking, and your beliefs. It means looking at the problem from a different angle and building a superior strategy with an adequate solution based on that angle.
Have you found yourself having money problems? Tackle your money beliefs, educate yourself about money and investing, find a way to save one dollar a day, look for ways to earn some extra bucks, come up with a crazy business idea, become really good at something etc. Innovate your way out of money problems. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
Are you facing a setback in your career? Innovate you way out. Change the industry, start blogging, take a new course, level up your skills with massive online open courses, write 1000 e-mails to people for new opportunities, do something that’s totally different from your previous behavioural patterns.
Do you feel trapped in negative thinking and negative emotions? Don’t stay locked in an emotional cage. Innovate your way out. Read all the available books about psychoanalysis and cognitive distortions. Go see a therapist. Start meditating. Innovate your way out.
Regardless of the life area, there is always something you can do. Be creative. Innovate. Find a new and better way to do things. Win.