Struggling With an Ongoing Issue? Ask Yourself This

Most of us struggle with something that is an ongoing issue in our lives. The issue can be huge, small, or anywhere in between, but it’s definitely ongoing. You could have a problem with overdrawing your account, with not getting paid as much as you’d like, with being unhappy in your job, etc.

Maybe you’ve been living with the issue for years, even. I know I just lived with mine, because I figured it was just the way I was.

The thing is, I’d confused an issue with a trait of mine — and I think that’s pretty common. You may have done similar things. Maybe you’ve said things like “I’m not a very organized person”, “I’m a procrastinator” or “I’m not very good with money”. They may feel like a part of who you are, but they’re not. They’re just who you choose to be or do right now, based on what you’ve learned and on your habits.

So if you’re struggling with an ongoing issue, ask yourself this: Why? (Not “Why do I suck?” or “Why does this always happen to me?” but “Why am I doing this?” or “What could be causing this?” — asked without judgment.)

My most recent on-going issue was pretty minor in the big scheme of things, but the answer to “What could be causing this?” was kind of astounding.

(Bear with me while I tell this little story. It’s not money-related, but what I learned from it can sure be applied to money-related issues.)

You see, for my ENTIRE LIFE I’ve had massively dry skin on my lips. It was bad bad bad, no matter what I did. It’d been that way for so long that I figured I’d just always have to live with it.

But one day last month, instead of whining about the problem again, or trying to slap some salve on them to make them feel better, I searched Google for causes of dry lips. Of course, there were the scary “you could be dying!” type causes, but there were also causes like “You lick your lips a lot” or “You sleep with your mouth open”.


A little observation revealed that I lick my lips a lot without realizing it.

Once I noticed what I was doing, I focused on making a change. A month later, they actually look almost completely normal.

The same process applies to other ongoing issues:

  1. Recognize that you don’t have to continue living with the issue.
  2. Figure out the root cause.
  3. Change your behavior or habit.

Surprisingly, sometimes steps 1 & 2 are harder to do than step 3.

For example, if you’re constantly overdrawing your account, the process might go something like this:

  1. You recognize that most people don’t constantly overdraw their accounts, which means YOU don’t have to continue doing so either.
  2. You do some analysis. Are you missing a budget? Are your expenses too high for your income? Do you hate to go to the bank and hang on to checks for too long? Do you not know your bank balance? Do you feel like managing your money should be someone else’s job? (Really do some thinking here so that you get at the root cause.)
  3. Take the first step toward addressing whatever the root cause was. Continue on until you get it taken care of.

“Getting it taken care of” may or may not be easy, but it IS doable, if you focus on the things that are within your control. This means no blaming the overdrafts on the bank, or your low salary on the economy. It means deciding the issue is yours, and that the solution is yours to find as well.