10 Practical Tips For Solving (Just About Any Of) Your Problems
When you hit a roadblock, what do you do to try and solve your problem? For example, some people let challenges complete overwhelm them, retreating into panic or defeat and becoming confused. It’s very hard to make progress that way!
On the other hand, more successful people take a deep breath and access the problem-solving skills required to generate the best solution.
Try this 10-step method for thinking clearly and systematically—it will hone your critical thinking skills and you can apply it to almost any problem.
1. Switch To Positive Language
Most of us tend to phrase problems in negative language—start the problem-solving process by switching to positive words instead. View your present situation as an opportunity, or a challenge—this type of reframing makes you more optimistic and confident, which in turn helps you to more naturally access your insights and creativity when generating new ideas.
2. Come Up With A Clear Definition
Find a sentence (or a couple of sentences) that define the challenge you’re currently facing. Precisely what is making you feel anxious, sad, stressed or unsettled? If it’s not easy to write a pithy description at first, start by writing a few paragraphs instead—what exactly is going on for you? Once you’ve done that, distill the description down into a short summary.
3. Use Multiple Perspectives
Even though you now have a working definition of the problem, make sure you push past the superficial. Ask “What else is the problem?” and look at it from multiple different directions.
For example, perhaps the surface issue is an ongoing tension with a work colleague, but the underlying, deeper issue is a need to please others—and what works as a solution for the former won’t necessarily solve the latter. In addition, apply multiple perspectives when brainstorming for solutions to any challenge—there’s seldom only one way to solve a problem.
4. Outline The Ideal Solution
The next question is what your ideal solution would accomplish. Figure it out in detail—how to do you want to get there, what will it look like, and why is it the ideal solution?
You may need to consider a few different outcomes to get a clearer sense of the one that would really best serve your purposes—be open-minded to the possibility of surprise here, as your first assumption about what’s best for you isn’t always the right one.
5. Pick The Best Solution
Now that you’re armed with multiple ways of thinking about your challenge (on several different levels of depth), and aware of the form different solutions would take, it’s time to pick out the best solution. Consider the circumstances, context, long-term consequences and which solutions are most realistic.
6. Come Up With A Plan For The Worst Outcome
Of course, as the Law of Attraction encourages, you should focus the bulk of your attention on the best outcome—and on believing that it’s possible. However, many people find it’s only possible to do this if they have already engaged with the idea of the worst outcome and therefore feel confident that they’d know how to deal with it.
Be ready to try something else if your plan doesn’t work, and figure out what that would be. Then, let the worst outcome go, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be fine no matter what.
7. Chart Progress
Consider how you’ll know that you’re making progress towards a solution to your present challenge. What will be the signs or markers that you use to measure success? Figure this out, and regularly check the criteria to see where you are.
8. Take Full Responsibility
Whatever you have decided to do, take complete responsibility for that choice and its implementation. So many of the best ideas never come to fruition because no one either takes (or is assigned) responsibility for acting. Tell yourself that you and you alone will ensure that your current challenge is met.
9. Set Reasonable Deadlines
If you decide to do something but don’t set a deadline, you may wander away from your plan. Try to set multiple, short-term deadlines, so that you have a clear schedule taking you from now right up to success. This process will ensure you know whether you’re on track or falling behind.
10. Take Action And Solve The Problem
Start immediately, tuning into the sense of urgency related to solving your problems and meeting your goals. This will stimulate your creativity and boost your energy, facilitating quicker learning and boosting your capacity to accomplish even more when you encounter future obstacles.
Using this rough framework, you can meet virtually any challenge that life presents, and accomplish any desired goal. The key is to use your creative mind to its full potential, and to take sustained, consistent and persistent action until you get to where you want to be.