How to Manage Situational or External Problems

There are problems in life which are external to you. Examples of these would be things as diverse as the employment market in your country, the corporate culture of the organization you are working for, a crash of the market and so on and so forth. The point is that you are in this situation, it is a part of your life and it will influence how your life will develop from this time on.

A lot of people react to situational problems like these with resignation. These people think that these are problems they are basically ‘born into’, they have no influence over these issues. And yes, in many ways this is true. There simply are certain things which you (in your current state) have no or little influence on. But before we fall into resignation, let’s ask ourselves some questions to see whether there is really nothing we can do about this.

1. Is there a way to switch the situation or environment you are in?

If you can’t influence the environment you are in, then you may be able to switch to another one. Since my specialization is on expat life, let’s take an example from this sphere. Let’s say you want to invest into a country, but the policy environment or the business environment simply isn’t conducive to it. Well, you always have the chance to move to another country where the situation is significantly better. This is the case when the income/cost ratio of the place is problematic for you, when the culture of the place isn’t conducive to your lifestyle and so on and so forth.

Be careful, however. If you don’t reflect on this question carefully, then you might end up “running away” from a situation simply because it seems to be the easiest option. So be honest with yourself whether changing the situation is merely a result of resignation, or whether it really is the best possible solution to the problem you are facing.

2. Is there a way for you to influence the situation after all?

Sometimes there may be a massive structural problem which you are facing and for which there seems to be simply no way for you to have an influence over it. After all, you are just a single individual. However, sometimes this situation can be resolved by redefining the problem. Perhaps it can be broken down into smaller sub-units of problems, some of which might be within your sphere of influence.

Let’s just say that you have a problem with the corporate culture at the organization which you are working for. There simply is something which is making you uncomfortable and which leads to lower levels of productivity. As a manager of a small subdivision of the company, you may not have any influence over the corporate culture as a whole, but you might very well be able to create a safe haven within your own subdivision. By redefining the problem or breaking it down into smaller units, you may be surprised by how dramatically the situation might change.

3. Is there a way to make this situation irrelevant to you?

One of the positive sides of being an expatriate is that you are often able to make situational factors that have dramatic influence over the life of other people in the same environment, very much irrelevant to you. One of the most common questions you get as a foreigner living in developing countries is often why you are coming here. The salaries are much lower while costs are expensive, making the situation quite complex for many people there. Expats, however, are mostly paid based on the salaries provided to them by their company in their country of origin, making them relatively independent from the economic situation of their host country.

My point here is not that you have to become an expat because that will free you from all situational problems. Rather, my point is that there are always ways like these in which you can develop a situation for yourself that makes you independent from a problematic situation which you are facing.

So what are the next steps?

Now it’s time to put these questions into practice. Pick a situational problems that has given you problems for some time, and see if asking these questions leads you to any insights that may help you to solve it.

Also, I would like to hear from you. Are you facing any situations which seem outside of your sphere of influence? What are you doing to solve these situations? Do you have any strategies to share for how to solve problems like these? Let us know in the comments below.



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