Finding A Better Way To Be A Problem Solver
When faced with a challenge, do you have a plan for being a problem solver? Or do you let it overwhelm you or make you stressed and anxious?
As humans, we are prone to many different unhealthy stimulants during our day. It might be as simple as a wrong coffee at your favorite spot or as significant as losing a job. For the majority of us, we can move on from the moment. However, other times it is not as simple as that. Not because a challenge has happened once and now become a pattern.
I have to admit that many times I find myself experiencing frustration, worry, and anxiety. But these are not productive ways to respond to life’s challenges. There is a better approach to solving problems. Having practical problem-solving tools has been my secret ingredient to overcoming some of the biggest struggles I’ve faced in life.
First, let’s consider how to be a better problem solver by asking these four components: asking questions, collecting appropriate data, analyzing the data, and interpreting the results.
As Karl Popper, a 20th-century philosopher of science, once quoted, “All life is problem-solving.”
Follow These Seven Helpful Lessons To Be A Better Problem Solver
- Define the Problem Clearly- Get the facts. What is causing your stress and anxiety? Why are you unhappy? Ask yourself: what are the cause and the effect of the challenge. Look for the root cause of the problem rather than getting sidetracked by the symptom.
Brainstorm some different solutions and options. Then pick the best solution by comparing your choices about the situation. What is the best thing to do at this time and under this circumstance?
- Take A Break – If you can not have a calm discussion with someone, then this is the time to get some air. Go to another room or outside. Removing yourself from the situation allows your brain to process the argument and figure out a different approach. If you know that the person will not back down, end the conversation till later.
Engineering professor Barbara Oakley quoted to the Mother Jones newspaper, “When you are focusing, you are blocking your access to the diffuse mode. The diffuse mode, it turns out, is what you often need to be able to solve an exceedingly difficult, new problem.”
- Keep A Journal – If the problem is more serious, try writing down the issue. Often, your brain has a hard time sorting through the feelings before even tackling the solution. Write down the why, what, when, etc. Add to each subtitle with more sensible ideas, much like an outline you do for an essay in school. Get it all out on paper first. Then, go back and read each entry. Does it make sense? Does it seem like a better approach to ending the problem?
Author Natalie Goldberg quoted, “Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”
- Sleep On It – Solving problems may take more than one day to resolve. By keeping yourself up worrying about it, not only is bad for your physical health but worse for your mental health. The National Institute of Health estimates that up to 30 percent of the general population complain of sleep disruption. Compound that with an unresolved issue, and now you have the task of resolving the matter in question and your poor health.
- Have A Chat – If the problem makes you feel overwhelmed, sometimes voicing the concern is therapeutic. Call a friend, family, spouse, etc. Someone close to you that has some understanding of your personality.
When you are emotional, it is hard to see your behaviors. Having a “third-party” hear the problem gives you that moment to release your anger or sadness and re-focus on the base of the situation more rationally.
Sometimes the situation is complicated, and you need to change your perspective. Try using more positive thoughts and words. Be more optimistic when you are approaching any difficulty. The more creative and mindful you are will help you identify a solution with a breakthrough idea.
- Tackle It Head-On – This is when you feel strong enough emotionally to solve the problem. The solution might look like talking to the person you think has wronged you or getting up every day to find that new job because you must pay the bills. When you push yourself to resolve the hurdle that is holding you back, you can discover a reward with a feeling of satisfaction and less anxiety.
Before implementing the decision, ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that can happen?” If your decision doesn’t work, be ready to accept complete responsibility. Many of the most creative ideas never materialize because no one wants to be responsible for the decision.
Set a Deadline – A decision without a deadline is a meaningless discussion. If the process will take some time to implement, develop a series of short-term goals and a schedule for reporting.
When you include this step, you will know if you are on track or falling behind. Use this technique to alleviate the potential for settling for less than the best. Finding a path and then taking action is always the optimum way to conquer our problems.
As Albert Einstein eloquently summed it up, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” By practicing and utilizing these tips, you will not only assure a more easily solved conclusion, but your mental health will thank you. Using this strategy always makes everyone feel better.
I am Shirley Noah, an internationally known stress expert and entrepreneur. I would love to connect further with you to help you improve your health and wellbeing. If you are interested in learning more about stress management, please take a look at my popular 8 days, FREE E-course, Worry Journaling.