When you’re trying to solve a problem, you have to ask the right question. For the 100 choices list I posted yesterday, I began by thinking about how all of us could probably use a few extra bucks about now.
I posed the problem this way: How can I make money this year as a freelancer despite the state of the economy?
The first thing you’ll notice is that I limited the problem in a way that limits my options. If I want to make more money as a freelancer, then I’m not going to be looking for a staff job. In some ways, this thinking is useful, because it clarifies what I want, not just what I’m willing to settle for. But at the same time, it might rule out some potentially good answers, such as finding a staff job with flexibility, so that I get some of the benefits of being a freelancer (being able to take an afternoon off when I need to) with some of the benefits of employment (regular, reliable income).
Also, adding the disclaimer “despite the state of the economy” makes the situation seem dire. But the state of the economy simply means I need to be more creative in my thinking, not that it’s impossible for me (or you) to make more money this year.
So I decided to recast the problem in a way that’s less restrictive and allows for freer thinking: How can I make money this year?
You could argue that I could reframe the question in another way, such as How can I meet my financial obligations this year? because some options would come up (such as moving to a less expensive house) that don’t turn up in answer to the question How can I make money this year? That’s a valid argument, and one answer is to create a list of various questions that get at the issue of making ends meet and then create a list of 100 options for each of those questions. But I’m not going to do that right now because it would make my head explode.