Hard Problems Are Not Always Hard

My college friend Ian Turner approached mathematics with a single thought. A problem is not a problem if you know how to solve it. In that case, it is merely a question. Perhaps one that would take some time to work through, but one where the answer is inevitable.

Not every life problem is that simple but some are. Sweep them away first.

Understand life’s problems

Do you have a problem or do you have a question? Over the years many life problems have been solved and now are merely questions. Many products have developed that produce answers to difficult situations. Premature death – life insurance. Sick or injured -disability insurance, worker’s compensation, critical illness insurance, and group insurance. Invest for retirement- mutual funds, ETFs, Index funds, and segregated funds.

Products and processes that have evolved to solve a problem should be accessed before you decide to create your special new answer.

You don’t have to be Carl Friedrich Gauss

Gauss is known as the greatest mathematician since antiquity. Could be true.  His work is profound and very dispersed. When he liked a particular problem, usually in number theory, he would develop several ways to solve it. Mathematicians learn a lot by over-solving problems. You need not do that. Find something that is a good, not necessarily perfect, solution to your needs and go with it. Better to solve 60% of five problems than 100% of three.


Don’t overthink the problem.

Focusing on a problem can be debilitating. Problems are what you see when you lose track of what your are trying to accomplish. Do not let the problem define the answer. Be open.


Understand the relationship between problems and purchased solutions

Harvey MacKay Lesson 62 proclaims:

If you have a problem you can solve by writing a check, you do not have a problem, you have an expense.  –   From Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

People manage problems poorly in several ways:

  1. They fail to understand the nature of the problem. Severity, likelihood and ability to solve.
  2. The fail to understand how the solutions fit into their lives.
  3. They try to create a solution that is their own, rather than using a prepackaged solution or process that has survived the test of time.
  4. They wait too long to start
  5. They over solve a problem they understand and thus reduce resources for another problem or opportunity.
  6. They are undisciplined and do not follow through on decent solutions

People do not anticipate problems.

The most effective way to solve a problem is to not have it. Good luck and bad luck both rely on exposure to potential outcomes. If you overeat, use drugs, never exercise, and drink alcohol to excess, it should not be a surprise if you become ill. If you have an internet addiction organize yourself in such a way that you are physically prohibited from falling into the old habit trap. Airplane mode at certain times is a useful ally. Going to the gym at regular times with another person tends to be harder to waive off. Leaving for appointments five minutes early tends to reduce stress.

Most of us are own worst enemy

The essence of avoiding that is to anticipate problems, understand our habits and limitations, buy our way out of of known problems and expose ourselves to good luck rather than bad.

Think positive. Most solutions are simple enough once you see them.  Just questions.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  don@moneyfyi.com  866-285-7772

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