Your life’s work is about solving a problem. You’re here to make something better for someone. You’re here to change something and create something that makes the world a better place in some way.
We often fall in love with a possible solution to a problem, not solving the problem.[tweet that]
When I meet someone, I’m always playing with how I talk about my work. Currently my go-to response is something like: I help people figure out what to do with their lives. Then I go on to talk about writing, speaking, and working one-on-one with people. My new acquaintance sometimes remarks (in an attempt to give some category to me): “Oh, so you’re a blogger.” Or “Oh, so you’re a life coach,” in a tone that implies I should have started with those facts.
As accurate as either of those titles may be, neither are fully true about me. I am a blogger and a coach. But I’m also a business person, a speaker, an entrepreneur, a photographer, a web administrator, an SEO implementor, a creative, a copywriter, a researcher, a journalist, a musician, a teacher, a workshop leader, and etc. That list could go on and on.
Some time ago I sat in on a panel of “writers” (very loosely defined) to talk about the writing process, blogging, and other related topics. While some of the panel members were writers because they wanted to be Writers (professional Writers), I see myself differently. I write because I want to help people find their way. I write because I need to find the people who need my help and be found by them.
Writing is a part of my strategy.
It is a way to give a possible solution to the problem of the disconnect between what a person does with her life and who she is.
Writing is one possible solution among many. And trust me, I will use many.
I really love to write (a solution). But more than writing, I really love to move people to deeper places of meaning in their work (the problem).
Often we get stuck thinking about the proposed solution to a problem when we may need to dig a little deeper to the problem itself.
In business, this is how you’d identify your target demographic and the needs of that market.
If you’re going sell something, your first job is not to sell. Your first job is to understand the problems your customer faces and help her solve them. Hopefully, your product or service meets their needs (if not, then you need a different product or a different demographic).
But here’s the overlap: so often when it comes to work worth doing, passion, and purpose, we focus so much on a single solution (the one that we’re used to offering) that we lose sight of the problem that we’re here to solve.[tweet that]
The problem is the why beneath the what of your solution.
Let’s get to some examples… (skimmers, start reading again here)
I may be a blogger (solution), but the reason I blog is to help you find your way (problem).
You may be a designer (solution), but the reason you design is because you want to create a world where form and function flow together seamlessly (problem).
You may be a project manager at a tech start-up (solution), but the reason you’re a project manager is because you believe that people can accomplish more together (problem). Your work is helping them.
You may be a singer-songwriter (solution), but the reason you write your songs is because you believe that music grounds us in the moment and takes us out of our heads and into our hearts (problem).
You may be teach 4th grade (solution), but the reason you teach is because you believe every student has a voice that needs to be nurtured and cared for (problem).
No matter what you do, love solving the problem more than the solution that you’re currently offering.[tweet that]
Your jobs may come and go. Your organizations may come and go. Your solutions to the problem may come and go, but your life’s work remains.
The more you fall in love with the problem you’re here to solve, the more able you’ll be to move from one opportunity to the next.
Now it’s your turn:
In the comments, share the solution you’re currently working on and the problem that it solves. If you’re not sure exactly what it is, share what you do know (because you know something!). Click here to comment.
Dan, this is a great post – really helps me with defining why I do what I do and be able to talk about my brand – get a Linked In profile that is passionate and true and unique. I’m looking for work right now, and my area is Customer Service/Technical Support leadership for technology companies. I’ve been struggling with how to describe what is unique about the way I do it – and your examples/questions have given me a great start. Thank you!!
That’s fantastic, Nancy! I’m so glad it’s helpful, and I’m grateful that you took the time to say so! 🙂
Dan, I just recently discovered your blog site here and I’ve already found many jems. This post, in particular, has really helped me with defining my “problem” with my own blog site. I feel like I have a defined purpose. Thanks for sharing this (now its time to get to work)!
Thanks Sam! It’s great having you here and I’m glad this is helpful! Keep me up to date on how things go with the blog!
yes, you are write life’s work is about solving a problem. everyone busy in finding solutions of their problems. thanks for sharing this inspiring blog to help others.