As Bianca, my 4 year old daughter, started to better understand images and shapes, as she started to talk more and to understand more, we slowly started to play more complicated games. Lately, she seems to develop a rather strong appeal for puzzle games. We solve at least one puzzle almost every day. We started with very simple games, with bigger parts, but soon she got bored. We had to find bigger puzzle games, with smaller (and more) pieces.
The other day, after we finished one of those games, just before she had to go to sleep, I had a short… let’s call it moment. A moment of clarity. I saw a few similarities between the puzzle games we played and some more “serious” situations like goal achievement, personal development or difficult life situations. Somehow, the games we played activated a switch. A very interesting one. After she went to sleep, I decided to write about this. By the way, it’s not the first time when Bianca is shedding some light on my path. Less than a month ago she let me see through her book of life, for instance (don’t be shy, take a look too).
Now, lets’ talk about how solving puzzles can help with your goal achievement strategies.
You Got All You Need
Every goal, every endeavor, every important achievement is made out of hundreds of little separate pieces. Goal achievement is just a matter of putting those pieces together. You take each and every bit, look at it, try to find its place in the bigger picture and then do your best to fit it in. That’s all there is to it, nothing more. Just a puzzle game.
And yet, we seem to struggle with our goals more than we should, or more than we expect in the beginning. And the most common roadblock of all is the feeling of “lacking”. I lack resources to make my life better. I lack the good looks I need to attract a better partner. I lack money. I lack a positive attitude. I lack luck.
Fact is we have it all. We just don’t see it. We have all the parts just in front of us, but we’re so early in the game that we just can’t understand them. We do have the resources, the looks and all the luck we need, but we don’t see them in the big picture. I realize this every time I shuffle the pieces for a new puzzle. When I look at them, they all seem so unrelated and distant. Not part of the same game. Totally different.
But as the game progresses, each and every piece find its place. All I need is just a single matching point, and from that matching point everything starts to link it up until the final image is complete.
But You Have To Stick To A Plan
And that calls for the second thing about puzzle and goal achievement: a plan. If you really want to solve the riddle you need a strategy. A roadmap. Some structured approach to reduce confusion up to the point the world becomes manageable again. It doesn’t have to be downright solvable, just manageable. As a matter of fact, if a puzzle is so easy that I can see through it from the beginning, I don’t feel any drive to even try it out.
But if the puzzle is so huge, so difficult and so complicated that I can barely think it’s doable, I need a strategy. Something that will give me hope to walk through it. Something that will make me understand the big picture. We all have our own specific strategy. For instance, my puzzle strategy is to find the corners and the edges. If I have a physically delimited portion of the image, I can easily find my way from there. I build from the edges to the core of the puzzle, ring by ring.
Bianca’s strategy is different: she looks for the first match she can find, regardless of the type of the piece (corner or edge). Once she found a match, she looks for the next one, and so on. All she needs is a starting point. She builds from there, in whatever direction she can find. That’s all we need to get the thing moving on. Until then, the puzzle game is nothing but a mess. Without a strategy, things looks like they’re impossible. But once you decide to bring the smallest amount of order into the chaos, you’re in fact creating a small crack, letting the light shine through.
Your puzzle solving strategy may be different. But as long as you have one, your puzzle will be finished. Just stick to it. All the unrelated parts will eventually fall into pieces.
Yes, It’s Confusing
Sometimes you’re wrong. Sometimes you spend days or months or years thinking how to get over your current situation. In other words, your puzzle game is frozen. You can’t advance anymore. There are no matching pieces that you can find. And still, you have to go through it. If you stop, you will never solve it.
We have moments when we seem to have no way to advance, me and Bianca, when we play our puzzles. Although we have all the pieces in front of us, something prevents us from seeing their role. We have no vision. No clarity. Bianca, as a kid, gets bored much more easily than I do. So I have to perform some special tricks in order to keep her focused.
And those are the moments when I realize I have to do the same tricks (or even come up with some better ones) if I want to solve the puzzles I choose. I need to find ways to remain in my life game even if it seems hopeless. I need some ways to overcome those situations in which I think there’s nothing more I can do. Because I can. All the pieces are there, I just can’t see them yet. But it’s my abandon which will actually make it meaningless. If I leave, the game will never be finished.
The game of life is confusing at times. And I think it’s confusing for a very good reason: to test your ability to stay on the path. Every puzzle is solvable, even if it seems it isn’t. Every life situation is solvable. As long as you don’t leave the game.
Putting Your Own Pieces Together
One of the nicest feelings you can have is to see a puzzle solved. And I’m not talking about the games I play with Bianca, (although creating a nice scene from Kung Fu Panda, for instance, can be funny at times). I’m talking about your life situation. I’m talking about your goals. Your dreams.
Maybe you had a dream of becoming somebody. An actor, a writer, or just a happy husband. Maybe you wanted to change the world. Or just to travel around it, while witnessing its beauty. This is your puzzle. This is the riddle you have to solve.
Even if it seems like you don’t have the resources, all the pieces of the puzzle are there. You just don’t see the big picture yet.
All you need is to set up a little plan and bring some light in. Most of the times, this little plan means just going along with the flow. Follow your intuition. Trust your heart. Remember, it’s just a puzzle. You picked it up and you do have all the necessary pieces to complete it.
Just stick with it.
And let me know when you finish, I’ll come over with Bianca to enjoy it together. 🙂