# Formulas Frustrating? It's Not The formula's fault.

When I first started using Google Sheets, I was full of excitement.

I believed that every formula would work perfectly, that each one would fit my needs effortlessly, and that Google Sheets would be the ultimate solution to all my problems.

But after years of using formulas that sometimes broke, returned errors, or just didn’t quite fit the task at hand, I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong. Was it the formulas’ fault? Or was it, perhaps, me?

Why do we often find ourselves frustrated with formulas in Google Sheets? Why do they sometimes fail to give us the results we want? Is it true, as some might say, that “perfect formulas are myths?” Not at all.

Over time, I learned that the problem wasn’t with the formulas themselves but with how I was using them. Mastering Google Sheets formulas, like anything else, is a skill that requires practice, understanding, and a bit of strategy.

The secret lies in what I like to call “Vocational Formulas.” Just as a vocational expert matches people to the right jobs based on their skills, so must we match the right formulas to the right tasks.

A SUM formula is fantastic for adding up numbers, but it’s not going to help you find a value in a table. A VLOOKUP is powerful, but it’s not going to calculate the average of your data. The key to success in Google Sheets is knowing which formula to use for which purpose.

Take the SUMIF formula, for example. It’s brilliant at adding numbers that meet a specific condition, but try to use it to return a text value, and you’ll be sorely disappointed. So, use SUMIF when you need to sum data based on a condition, and let other formulas handle the text values.

Similarly, don’t expect the VLOOKUP formula to handle complex conditional logic – it’s not built for that. VLOOKUP shines when you need to find data in a structured table. If you find yourself frustrated because it can’t perform complex calculations, it’s not the formula’s fault. You just need a different tool, like INDEX and MATCH, to do the job.

I once tried to force the IF formula to handle all sorts of tasks – from complex logical operations to calculating percentages. It failed me every time. But when I started using IF just for basic conditionals and combining it with other formulas for more complex tasks, it became one of my go-to tools.

It’s impossible to expect one formula to do everything. Each formula in Google Sheets has a unique function, and it’s our job to use them in the right context. Think of your formulas as specialized tools. Just as you wouldn’t use a hammer to tighten a screw, you shouldn’t use a SUM formula to look up data in a table. The art of working with Google Sheets formulas is learning how to use each one for its strengths and never expecting it to do what it wasn’t designed for.

In the same way, I had a formula that irritated me for ages – ARRAYFORMULA. No matter what I tried, it always seemed to break my sheet. But then I realized that I was using it incorrectly. ARRAYFORMULA is meant to apply a function to an entire range, not just individual cells. When I understood that, it became an indispensable part of my Sheets toolbox.

So, instead of being frustrated with your formulas, think about how you’re using them. Appreciate each one for its specific purpose, and don’t expect it to be something it’s not. With the right mindset, you’ll find that Google Sheets formulas, just like friends, have unique qualities that can make your work so much easier if used in the right way.

That’s how I’ve come to work harmoniously with formulas in Google Sheets. I no longer expect one formula to do everything, and as a result, I’m never disappointed.