To Do List: Focus on the "Can" instead of "Can’t"


“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” -Charles R. Swindoll

I feel like, sometimes, we are surrounded by so much negative energy that we can’t even bring up the urge or motivation to get started on our day’s tasks. I wanted to start this post with the quote above because I think it’s a good mantra for this week. Instead of being bogged down by all the challenges we have (for example: too many deadlines, not enough time), let’s focus on the positive “can” instead of the negative “can’t.” And for me, it goes beyond “can” into “do.”

What if, for this week, whenever we have a problem, we don’t just automatically jump to the obvious solution of, “Oh no, I can’t do this,” to the more challenging, yet fulfilling place of, “How can I do this differently within these limitations”?

I come across this scenario constantly. A client wants something extravagant or luxurious for her event, but she only wants to spend pennies. Instead of just saying, “No, that’s not possible,” what if I stopped and thought about some alternate solutions? It could be a matter of changing materials, technique or even vendors.

It’s amazing what kind of creative solutions you can find when you’re forced to find them.

Sometimes, the final result ends up being even better than what I originally planned. (This also requires a little flexibility and openness on the client’s part. Keep in mind that some people are just insatiable with their wants–and that’s when you have to decide whether the client is actually right for you or not.)

Here are ways I try to be positive and focus on the “can”:

  • If someone asks you for something “impossible,” ask, “Why?” (not in a harsh, challenging way, but in a soft, curious way). When you get to the heart of why someone wants something, it may help you come up with a real, practical solution that fulfills the want in a different way. So often, it’s not about the actual physical “thing” but more about the meaning and symbolism that “thing” might bring for each individual.
  • Sometimes we just can’t do it alone. If every person around you is negative, call or email your favorite, positive friend. Sometimes all you need is a different perspective to show you that there’s a real solution to a seemingly impossible problem.
  • Last, but not least, I know this may seem counter-intuitive, but stop thinking about the problem for a little while. I know we want to push and push ourselves to find the answer, but sometimes the answer needs to find us. It’s actually surprising how often solutions come to you when you’re not thinking about the problem. This happens to me a lot when I’m exercising. When I find myself in the “zone,” I’m consistently more able to find the solution I was looking for.

In the spirit of positivity, please tell me about what one impossible task you had and how you overcame it. I’d love to hear your stories.