Martin Barak | Unsplash

Our problems aren’t so special. We think they are. We think no one has faced anything so complex. No one has a boss this crazy, a job this hectic, an email inbox filled with so many requests. If our problems are special, it’s a great excuse to avoid solving that problem. We need to stop it.

I recently had a problem that was so obviously not unique I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I was bored of my usual exercise routine and I stopped doing it. The pounds started to pile on. Classic, right? Solvable, certainly. Yet I waited months to do anything about it.

A neighbor had suggested I try her gym. I finally listened. Why did it take me so long? I think I just told myself that I was special. I wasn’t a “gym person” (whatever that means). I liked doing workouts on my own. I’m special because I’m an introvert, and blah blah blah.

I’ve been going to the gym for 2 weeks now and I like it. I don’t love it. I’m out of shape and in pain, so of course I don’t love it, but it’s getting me moving. The instructor played Prince in the spinning class, and I pushed an extra 5 minutes.

I think sometimes the hardest part of solving our career problems comes down to the same issue. Our problems are often not unique. They’re common, and they’re solvable. How have others tackled your problem? How can you copy them?

Somehow, copying seems unfair, right? In America we’re supposed to keep our eyes on our own papers, but there’s a good chance that if you have a career problem, someone else has faced it. What have they done? What could you steal for yourself? Lean over and glance at their paper. Go on, you know you want to.

A common solution to a common problem still counts as problem solving. You don’t have to prove you’re unique by reinventing the wheel. You’re unique because you’re human.

I’m going to post a few stories on this blog in coming months about people who are shaping their own careers. My hope is that you will find something to copy. Maybe they’re not in the same industry, or the same role within that industry, but that’s okay. There may be something worth copying, and there’s nothing wrong with that.