“You make problem, you have problem.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

When it comes to problems, we all have them. Many problems, however, are self-imposed.

Startling thought?

It’s meant to be. If you want to narrow the list of problems you have, start with a firm decision to stop making problems in the first place. Already, the objections start, beginning with the problems that others create that have a direct effect on you. Surely, you didn’t create them. So, how can you stop those problems?

Nice try, but that’s a weasel-out excuse that won’t work. While you don’t have control over the problems others create, you very much have control over your response, action, or inaction. In other words, it’s what you do that counts, not what the problems are that you face.

It’s the same with problems that you manufacture. Indeed, it’s all in how you regard the situation. If you think it’s a problem, it’s going to be a problem. If you view it in a more positive light, the problem is no longer a problem, but an opportunity or challenge. It’s the same situation, yet you have a different outlook. That change in perception alters everything.

Let’s look at a few problems we tend to create for ourselves and how we can stop them being problems.

Problem: No Time

How many of us complain that we don’t have enough time? There is a constant of 24 hours in every day, so we all have the same amount of time. The issue isn’t that we lack time, but that we choose to use it in an inefficient manner.

One solution to the self-imposed problem of no time, if this is a problem you’re wrestling with, is to get better organized. When you create a schedule or routine, prioritize tasks, reach out for help, allocate resources, and devise a plan, there’s air in the problem that causes it to dissipate. Instead of a negative, you’ve created a positive.

Problem: No Money

Another nearly universal problem is that we don’t have enough money. Whether it’s a self-imposed and arbitrary sum we have in our heads that we believe is necessary to being financially stable or that we never seem to have enough money to pay the bills, the fact that we hold this thought as a problem perpetuates it. There’s no way out until the picture changes.

If this is a problem that you have, here’s a way to approach it. A deep analysis of exactly where you spend your money is the first step to changing the problem into something more manageable. No, you can’t mint money, but you can stop wasting it on expensive lattes when a home-brew is cheaper, doesn’t require you to drive somewhere to get it, and saves time in the process. Using creativity to add accessories (a new belt, scarf, piece of jewelry) to an existing wardrobe will solve the problem of no money to buy an entirely new one.

Scaling back immediate self-gratification and concentrating on living in the present, being fully aware and involved in the here and now will not only take the onus off the belief that money is scarce, it will also enrich daily living.

Problem: No Friends

A problem that involves a change of attitude is the belief that we have no friends. Sometimes, this is because we go out of our way to avoid meeting new people, believing that we have nothing to offer, that we’re not good enough, don’t converse easily, aren’t as educated, don’t dress the same way, come from diverse backgrounds, and a litany of other reasons we tell ourselves.

Does this sound like a problem you have? The only way out of the box of having no friends you’ve put yourself in is to go out and begin to interact with others. Work on some casual conversation openers to get things going. Take a course, if necessary, to practice conversational skills. Find a hobby or recreational pursuit you enjoy where you’ll encounter others who have similar interests. There’s bound to be small talk that, over time, can lead to a friendship, even if it’s only while engaged in the hobby or recreational pursuit. It’s a start, something you can build on.

Problem: No Motivation to Change

How many of your friends and co-workers can you identify who appear to lack motivation? They aren’t interested in getting ahead or have no desire to undertake challenges that require them to move out of their comfort zone. They’re perfectly happy to maintain the status quo, not advancing, yet not falling behind either. Maybe you find yourself in this mindset from time to time.

This can be a problem that worsens. If you become used to just getting by, never exerting yourself, never trying anything new, life is going to become humdrum, unsatisfying, even boring. Where is the excitement of discovery if you never take the time to explore, experiment with different approaches, try new recipes, make a new friend, choose an unexpected vacation destination, challenge yourself to vie for a promotion? This is the type of a problem that necessitates both internal change in the form of transforming your attitude and outlook and an external change in the form of acting.

Remember, having problems is not a unique experience. Finding a workable solution to what’s bothering you or holding you back from experiencing a productive, fulfilling life, however, is unique. You may employ similar approaches to those others have found successful, yet you will tailor and adapt them to suit your situation, personality, tolerance for risk, and by embracing change.