[caption id=“attachment_1755” align=“aligncenter” width=“1024”] Even koalas have problems. I think. (Photograph 045 by Lauren Mancke found on minimography.com)[/caption] When we’re facing a problem without an easy solution, it’s easy to feel like we have no idea what to do, no idea where to start.

This is rarely the case.

Most of the time, we actually know what we need to do. We just don’t realize it.

My baby daughter is making me fat

Our daughter Kate is three months old today (hooray!), and since she was born I’ve gained almost ten pounds. Each morning when I step on the scale, I think, “I need to do something about this. What to do, though? I’ll have to set aside 30 minutes to think through it, do some soul-searching, and make a plan.”

But is this necessary?

If I apply only a couple minutes of focused thinking, I realize that I know how to solve this problem.

I’m eating more because I’m on paternity leave right now. Caring for an infant is wonderful in many ways, but it’s highly unstructured, surprisingly stressful, and a little boring. It’s easy to overeat under those conditions. I also haven’t formed a new exercise routine since Kate was born.

How can I change these things?

  • I’ll be back at work in a couple weeks, so that should help.
  • I obviously need to talk to Sarah about fitting in a bike ride or two each week.
  • I need to find a way to eat less. What’s worked for me in the past?
  • I’ve had success with choosing a target weight and a date to get there, while using a calorie counting app to stay on track.

Yes, I still have to do these things. But at least I know what to do. And really, I knew what to do all along—I just had to articulate it.

Applying focused thought

Think of a problem you have—something that’s eating at you.

Take 60 seconds to think intently about this problem. Describe the problem to yourself as specifically as possible. Now, what do you know about solving it? If you’re stumped, think about someone you respect, and ask yourself how they would solve it. Talk it out or write it out (which is what I just did).

As it turns out, do you truly have no idea how to solve your problem? Or do you know what to do but just need to do it?

There’s a big difference, and there’s a good chance you’re closer than you think.