When you decide you want to change something, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
Whether you are looking to improve your finances, your health, or the quality of your relationships - the scale and complexity of the problem can lead to paralysis.
Say you are struggling financially. It’s logical to focus on the complexity of the issue. Perhaps, our culture undervalues your industry or you sense the wage gap has something to do with your current salary. Or you are crippled by student debt or medical bills and you sense it is a political problem (I agree- it is!). These are all legitimate and important factors that may be currently influencing your financial stress. But because you can’t immediately solve the underlying causes of the problem, it can lead to a sense of hopelessness.
Or say you are experiencing relationship troubles. Again, it is easy to focus on the childhood traumas that may be contributing to unhealthy dynamics. Or the increased stress that your partner is shouldering due to a sick parent. The thought of changing these contributing factors can feel too slow or downright impossible.
I’m all for a structural approach, but if you are feeling this way, there is value in shifting your focus instead to the small bright spots in your current reality.
I was introduced to this idea in the book, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, a classic in the behavior change genre. The idea of bright spotting is that you don’t need to necessarily solve the “cause” of the problem in order to find solutions. Instead, you look for exceptions to the problem and notice what is causing these “bright spots” of relief. Then you can emulate these solutions.
As you investigate your current situation, there are likely some things that are working better than others. Rather than focus on your failures or what isn’t working, instead try to replicate these tiny wins.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO GUIDE YOU:
(apply to any situation you feel you need to “fix”)
On my best days (or when the problem isn’t so bad), what is happening? What factors or behaviors are occurring?
What’s working and how can I do more of it?
There may be lots of room for improvement in your life. And as a deep, systems thinker you may be overwhelmed with all the perceived structural changes you need to tackle before anything can change.This may be a time to momentarily let go of thinking on a structural level and instead seek out the bright spots. You may be surprised at the shifts that are possible!