The powerful two-part strategy to tackle any problem

A few years back, my wife was working as a hospice nurse. She found the work demanding, exhausting, and intensely rewarding.

It takes a special kind of person to care for the dying. Beyond medical skills, hospice nurses develop a bond with their patients, navigate family dynamics, and shepherd patients to a peaceful, dignified death.

“Endings matter, not just for the person but, perhaps even more, for the ones left behind.” ― Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Late one afternoon, at the end of my wife’s workweek, she arrived at home. It had been a long shift, she was tired, and suggested we go out for dinner.

“Where would you like to go?” my wife asked.

“Hmmm, I don’t know. What are you in the mood for?” I said.

“A good cocktail and comfort food,” she offered.

“Well, I can think of several places. It doesn’t matter to me, whatever you feel like.” I said.

My wife looked at me dejectedly, readjusted the medical bag on her shoulder, and walked toward the bedroom to change out of her scrubs.

Like an idiot, I realized too late that my wife wanted a decision, not a discussion. She was tired and hungry.

The response she needed was something like: “I know the perfect place. Why don’t you get changed into something comfortable and we’ll head out.”

You’ll never get anything done

Are you the kind of person that lets life chauffeur you around, or do you hop in the driver’s seat and choose your own destination? If we’re honest, most of us are probably a little bit of both.

We plan, set goals, research, organize, and erratically work toward our dreams. Sometimes we find success, but often there are roadblocks and unexpected problems.

“If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done.”-Norman Vincent Peale

Other times, we succumb to fear, second-guessing, procrastination, laziness, and distraction. Our lives can feel like a Sisyphean struggle. An endless loop of repetition, in which we never seem to get ahead.

How do some people achieve their dreams? How do they work around roadblocks and conquer their problems so effectively?

Stagnant and frozen

Ed Mylett is an author, entrepreneur, and speaker, with an estimated net worthof 410 million dollars. In a blog post on his website, Mylett argues the following:

“85% of your problems should be solved immediately.”

Mylett goes on to state that most problems and obstacles in life are caused by indecision. Mylett adds:

“Instead of taking MASSIVE ACTION toward what they want in life, most people become stagnant and frozen in the face of a challenge and NEVER make a decision.”

When I first started writing online, I had no idea what I was doing. I was a full-time police chief and part-time writer. I published blog posts on my website, hoping to attract visitors. All I attracted were crickets.

This went on for a while. I’d post new articles, and nothing much happened. It was demoralizing. Finally, I decided to do something about it.

I flew to Franklin, Tennessee to take a three-day professional blogging course. I hired an established copywriting expert to teach me about headlines, and what entices readers to continue reading.

I invested in online courses, read books, and studied the work of successful bloggers and writers. I realized the importance of honing my own style and voice, rather than trying to mimic what others were doing.

In 2019, all my efforts began to pay off. I gained a growing following of readers and earned nearly 70K from my writing. What was the secret to my success?

Two words:

Decisive action

I stopped posting and hoping. I took decisive action by attending that blogging workshop in Franklin, Tennessee. Same with hiring a copywriting coach, and spending the time and money to take online courses and read several books.

The universe conspires

A few years before all of this, I did something similar with my landscape painting. I was mostly a weekend painter, making slow progress with my artwork.

A landscape artist I admired, Scott L. Christensen, offered intermediate and advanced workshops in Idaho. I considered investing in the workshop, but I had a terrible fear of flying.

My wife was the one who talked me into it. She booked the flights and secured accommodations. With her gentle nudge, I set aside my fears and took decisive action.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The workshop was life-changing, my artwork vastly improved, and I came back to Idaho for the advanced workshop. Later on, Christensen invited me and one other artist to a private salon.

Decisive action greatly improved my fine art, as well as my writing career. I’ve since applied decisive action to other areas of my life, from physical fitness and health to financial decisions and spiritual pursuits.

The ability to deal with them

There will always be problems and challenges in life. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight or overcome an addiction. Perhaps you were laid off from your job. Or your spouse just left you after years of marriage.

The wrong thing to do is complain about the problem, cry in your beer, or ignore it. Usually, the more you ignore or avoid a problem, the worse it gets. You’ll just be more miserable.

John P. Weiss

Taking decisive action has the opposite effect of ignoring the problem. It frees your spirit because you’re finally taking action. It feels good, and leads to results.

“Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Do your best to quickly educate yourself about the problem. Research how others solved the same situation. From permanent weight loss and overcoming addiction to reemployment and finding new love, others have successfully gone before you. Learn from them.

But don’t suffer from analysis paralysis. An artist who spends forever tidying up her studio may never get to painting. Similarly, if you spend forever trying to create perfect conditions, you may never take decisive action.

Taking decisive action has the opposite effect of ignoring the problem. It frees your spirit because you’re finally taking action. It feels good, and leads to results.

“Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Do your best to quickly educate yourself about the problem. Research how others solved the same situation. From permanent weight loss and overcoming addiction to reemployment and finding new love, others have successfully gone before you. Learn from them.

But don’t suffer from analysis paralysis. An artist who spends forever tidying up her studio may never get to painting. Similarly, if you spend forever trying to create perfect conditions, you may never take decisive action.

Flood yourself with certainty

Ed Mylett suggests the following three steps to solve 85% of your problems:

#1. Make a decision. JUST MAKE ONE. It doesn’t have to be pretty, perfect, or well-researched. It doesn’t have to solve the whole problem. It just has to be a decision.

#2. Flood yourself with certainty. Decide with confidence that the decision you made is right. Many people decide but stay stuck and won’t move forward because they keep second-guessing themselves. Instead of having massive certainty about their decision, they doubt themselves and never take action.

#3. Take massive action. Once you’ve decided,, start taking steps consistent with that decision. As you take action, you will discover whether you made the right decision and adjust accordingly.

Sometimes you take decisive action but have to modify or change course along the way. That’s okay. It still beats doing nothing or hiding from your problems.

Focus on probability over perfection. There’s often no time to conduct exhaustive research on a problem.

Don’t get bogged down worrying about a perfect outcome. Shoot for a reasonable probability of success.

“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough — that we should try again.” — Julia Cameron

I have missed some opportunities in the past due to avoidance and indecision. I’ve since learned to embrace decisive action. It’s better to get up and move than to sit and worry.

Decisive action is a powerful, two-part strategy that will help you tackle any problem. The more you do it, the better you get overcoming obstacles and problems.

Give it a try, share it with others, and start creating the life you always dreamed of.

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint, and write about life. To get my latest writing and artwork, join my free Saturday Newsletter here.