Find problems only you want to solve to find meaning and happiness

Let’s stop chasing happiness or meaning and instead find problems we like solving

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Are we still chasing happiness in 2021? After a traumatic year and a half, i believe the answer is more than ever. On a positive note, more people seem to be in tuned with finding their purpose or at least awakened enough to seek it out.

I have been chasing meaning for as long as I have had a career. How can I infuse more meaning into what I do? At work, in my life, around me. There were fleeting moments of success but not long withstanding.

But as human beings we love the chase. The basis of our evolutionary nature dictates that we aspire to grow and constantly seek out new challenges. But at the same time, we hit roadblocks and get hit by irrational fears and anxiety.

The serial entrepreneur and billionaire, Naveen Jain said: “If you want to make a billion dollars, solve a ten billion-dollar problem.” That is fantastic advice. The world is not lacking in global problems from poverty to hunger to now the constantly diminishing role of the female gender (Yes, I am totally referring to the anti-abortion laws of Texas debacle). But the question is, are any of those a problem you want to solve? Do you want to eradicate poverty on a global scale or are you just as fulfilled working in a soup kitchen?

We think we will be happy as an entrepreneur or businessmen, as we see college dropouts making millions by exiting their start-ups. Or we read rags to riches biographies and think that could be me. The problem is not only that we see success as an overnight phenomenon but that if we really did examine the problems these successful people solved, we would be discouraged. We have to solve problems that matter to us, to find even an inkling of happiness or meaning.

I worked with a brilliant guy once, he was tireless. One day, when logging off, I said my goodbye and told him jokingly: do not work too hard. He told me, you know when you do what you love, it is not work. To him, he was getting to the bottom of issues that motivated him to burn the midnight oil. To me, I was crunching numbers, putting them in pretty formats and adding nice vocabulary to make it look good. I was solving the wrong problems.

I love giving life advice and perspectives, delving deep into the psychology of human nature. When somebody comes to me with an abstract question, I have part of the answer. Or I will have a better question. I want to help people ask better questions to find better answers. I want to help people clear their doubts and light up their paths. Those are problems I like to solve. How do I know? Because it energises me. Makes me happy.

You could also be a serial problem solver. Like Elon Musk. He wanted to solve payment problems, so he cofounded PayPal. He wanted to reduce carbon emissions in cars, so he built an electric car. He wanted humans to go to space, so he created a space company. But Elon loves and embraces his problems, it is part of his journey. Do not copy or try to embark upon other people’s mission if you do not find any of the underlying problems even mildly exciting to tackle.

Finding problems that are not yours to fix can leave you feeling drained or uninspired. But sometimes, it is only by solving different sort of problems that you find your calling. It could be totally unexpected or different from what you imagined. It is also helpful to figure out the scale of the problem you want to be involved in.

Maybe you envisioned yourself as a politician to help fight certain causes but found yourself the leader of an NGO. Maybe you thought you like fighting crime and enrolled in the police force, to finally realise you would prefer solving traffic problems and develop an app.

You do not have to get it right the first time. I did not. I always write problem-solver as one of my top skills when scouting for jobs. But it turns out I was solving problems for corporate when I wanted to solve problems for individuals. Seek out new problems, cropping issues or help out a friend in need. I am positive you will find your niche and your answers through this iterative process. And happiness will find you.




Finance executive turned life coach. Top writer. Life lover, world explorer.

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Shev K

Shev K

Finance executive turned life coach. Top writer. Life lover, world explorer.

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