When you’ve got problems staring you in the face do you often find yourself unable to cope? Does the magnitude of the issue cloud your thinking?
The solution is to attack each problem in a systematic manner. “Problem-solving” is simply attacking a problem in a logical sequence.
Steps to problem-solving:
- Identify the problem. Name exactly what is the issue.
- Generate solutions. Write down as many possible solutions that you can think of. Emphasize quantity not quality. Do not censor any idea, no matter how silly or fanciful it appears. If the problem is shared as a family or group, do this with those involved to generate a larger list of solutions.
- Evaluate solutions. Go through your list of solutions and evaluate their effectiveness. Put a plus sign (+) next to those that could work and a minus sign (-) next to those that are clearly unworkable. Some solutions may seem to be on the border between good and bad, so put both a plus and minus sign (+-) next to them.
- Choose the solution(s). Select from those you’ve rated with a plus sign. Even if it isn’t perfect, commit yourself to at least trying it. Most problems do not have perfect solutions.
- Implement solution(s). Decide how you intend to carry out the solution. You need to specify when, where, why, how, and who will implement the solution. Making a public commitment to a friend, or co-worker, that you are going to take the action will increase your motivation to carry out the plan.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution(s). Taking one course of action may not suffice. It may work partially or not at all. If the problem remains, then you need to revisit your list of solutions or generate new ones. Don’t let inadequate solutions thwart your renewed attempt to overcome the problems in your life.