- Something isn’t working.
- There must be a reason.
- I must not have seen the reason yet.
The hard part is learning to do this with detachment; letting go of preconceived notions. A mental shift in other words. This technique can be especially useful when you become “stuck” on a difficult problem. Pirsig suggests stepping back and having a cup of coffee. A co-worker recommends trying to explain the problem as observed to a rubber duck. I’ve always tried explaining problems to my dog. The common theme is detaching yourself from the frustration of the situation and re-examining the observable facts.
As a convenient example, take the desire to start a long-term bicycle tour. There are so many facets to making this happen it can easily seem overwhelming. Applying the above process looks a lot like:
- Solving “how to start a long-term bicycle tour” is too complicated.
- Other people have done this, so there must be a way.
- I must not have seen a way yet.
“How to start a long-term bicycle tour” could be split up like this:
- What equipment do I need?
- How much money do I need?
- Where do I want to go?
- How do I get there?
“What equipment do I need?” is well documented. “How much money do I need?” is rather less obvious, although I made an effort at estimating it. Then the question becomes “How do I come up with that much money?” Two immediately obvious options are: earn (and save) it now or earn it later when you need it. This is where things get sticky again, and is what I’m currently working on myself. I’ll address these in future posts.