What's the Problem You're Trying to Solve?

All of us are trying to solve something.  The parent on the PTA committee tries to raise money for her daughter's school.  The plumber tries to clear clogged pipes.  The clergyman tries to lift spirits.

For me and this blog, I'm trying to help you break through the maze of the job hunt and design an extraordinary career for yourself.

What about you?  Consider the following three phases of one's career and what each might be trying to solve:

  • In our 20's & 30's:  we are often climbing the ladder, honing our skills and trying to figure out what we want to do in the second chapter of our life's work.
  • In our 40's & 50's: we are discovering "mastery" and becoming experts.  We are also trying to solve the "retirement dilemma" whereby we worry about when and how we will retire.
  • In our 60's & 70's: we are transitioning from work to helper-role, raising up the next generation of leaders as we serve as mentors and guides.

A 20-something friend of mine said recently something like this, "I like my job but I think I should find something more stable, more forward thinking."  She's trying to solve the problem of not having benefits and worrying that her job at present could be eliminated any day.  It could- her worry is justified.

Another friend in his late 40's told me recently that he's trying to "settle down" and get ready for retirement.  To be honest, I'm not sure what problem he's trying to solve.  He needs more clarity or he's going to just sit in neutral.  Neutral is not good.

And that's the problem with problem solving- it's actually healthy to be solving something.  It means we are still growing and expanding our horizons.  It's when you just "maintain" that your career will sputter.  Worse yet, you'll get fired.  

I like it when people in my organization tell me that they want to grow and get promoted.  That means they still haven't hit their ceiling of growth and that's good.

So my advice is this- get clear on the problems you're trying to solve in your self and in your work.  Then go at them with intentionality and vigor.  

After all, life is too short to just sit there and wait for retirement.