Tips for Problem Solving and Finding Solutions to Problems

“When in danger, or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

If this has been your usual response to problems, it’s time to regroup, re-evaluate and learn some new tips and techniques to help you through the problem solving process.

1. Define the problem. This may seem overly simplistic, but think about it. What you think is the problem may be in reality nothing more than a symptom. You may need to dig down to the real nitty-gritty, the source of the trouble. After all, you want to identify and cure the true problem, not slap a band-aid on the surface and pretend it’s been solved.

2. Look at the problem from all angles; find all the elements of the problem you want to solve. You must know that problem backwards and forwards. Without all the information, you can’t find a solution. Understanding all aspects of the problem is essential to finding the key to solving it. Instead of panicking that you’ll never figure things out, take a deep breath, clear your mind and calmly picture the problem. It’s been said that the seeds of solution are contained within every problem. You just have to find them.

3 Try to bring the problem down to its simplest terms. Resolve the core problem and you will likely solve several layers of conflict right there. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by a complex problem and very easy to avoid the situation because it does feel like more than you can handle. Denial of the overall problem will not present a solution. A problem ignored becomes larger and more difficult to deal with as time passes. Facing the problem head-on reduces the size and scope of it, making it easier to handle

4 Confidence in your ability to solve your problems is also key here. If you go into the situation feeling like you can’t possibly find the answer; it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever you think you can or cannot do, you’re right. Build your self-esteem by focusing on what you can do, following the steps to resolution and accomplishing your goal.

5. A large, overwhelming problem can often be divided into smaller chunks that are much easier to deal with one at a time. Accomplishing the smaller pieces also gives you a needed boost of confidence in your own abilities. Tackling one small piece at a time gives you the necessary experience to deal with the next and the next.

6. If you’re encountering a problem, it may be time to collect more information on the subject. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, the more power you’ll have to resolve the conflict surrounding you. Finding a precedence is often helpful. Has someone else encountered this problem before? Odds are, they have, so find out how they solved it and see if it applies in your case. There’s no need to reinvent fire or the wheel. Learn from others whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Figure out some possible sources and seek them out. Someday, you may be asked for help too. Pay it forward.

7. Lay out all your possible answers, to help figure the best course of action. Make notes, so you won’t forget anything. Visualize each possible solution, considering all the variables involved. This is where it’s imperative that you’ve gathered all the information you can about what caused the problem in the first place. The answer could be right in front of you. By following the logical progression step by step, you can often find the solution more easily. This is where you get to play Sherlock Holmes and use your deductive reasoning.

8. If you’ve been over and over the variables, and no answer presents itself, it could be that you need a change of scene or a brief rest. Try taking a walk and not thinking about the problem. Do something simple and ordinary; some task that doesn’t require deep thinking. Many times, while doing these ordinary tasks, the solution to a problem will just come to you, out of the blue. Sometimes, it feels almost magical, coming to you so easily, when you had pondered, worried, walked the floors and come up with nothing.

9. Sometimes, when faced with a serious problem, it’s easy to feel resentment. You may ask, “Why me or why now?” Remember that it’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that’s important. Think of this as a challenge or an opportunity to learn something new and move forward with your life. Each time you solve a problem it gives you courage to tackle the next one. You face the challenge and prevail. Now do it again.

10. Finally, be persistent in seeking out those answers. They’re there waiting for you to find them. If you give up too soon, you’ll always wonder if you could have accomplished this task. Stick with it, find the solution, then pat yourself on the back and move on to the next sticky problem, confident that you did it before and you can do it again.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best. “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

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