I was in Barnes and Noble the other night when I caught myself.  I was on my way to the checkout when I looked down at the three books I was holding and decided that I needed to put them back.  I haven’t read in almost three weeks.  My goal of reading fifty-two books in fifty-two weeks has recently been shoved into the background.  In attempt to reconcile the goal, I picked out three new books to buy…. Three books that I do not need since over five unread books sit on my nightstand.

I do this a lot and no, I don’t mean buy new books when I still have a lot left to read (although I’m quite guilty of that as well).  What I mean is that in order to solve a problem, I often try to add something positive instead of removing something negative.  This was the old way of solving problems.  The old way always relied on addition over subtraction.

When trying to solve a problem, my first instinct is always to add something.  I hadn’t been reading so why not buy more books to reignite my excitement.  But, the real problem is not that I have nothing to read, but that I am not making the time to read.  The new books may excite me initially, but if I don’t get back into the habit of reading nightly then I will eventually lose that original excitement.


Figure Out The Negative

The negative is not always what we expect it (or want it) to be.  The problem is not that I have nothing interesting to read or that I don’t have enough time to read.  The problem is that I have not been making the time to read.  I have watched Stranger Things, lots of football, and a few other shows.  The negative is the time I’m wasting on things that don’t contribute to my goals.

I chose to blame my recent lack of reading on a lot of other things because I don’t want to give up Netflix or football.  It is kind of like when you buy a gym membership to lose weight, but continue with unhealthy eating habits.  Positives often improve the situation, but they rarely solve it.


Remove The Negative Then Add The Positive

There is the assumption that every problem can be solved by adding something.  Infomercials are successful because they seem to fill a need that we didn’t even know we had.  It’s 2 am and suddenly I’m convinced I need a ShamWow in my life.  What we often neglect is the power of removing negatives.  

So, once we identify what is detracting from our success, we have to remove it.  I’m not against adding something positive, especially if you have first removed a negative.  In order to grow, we eventually will have to add something.  And, once we have eliminated the negative, we now have more room to add the positive.

When are you trying to add instead of subtract?


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