We are making decisions every day; most of them are small. But they all have consequences. Here is a very simplistic example: Should I get up and go to work today when I don’t feel like it? Probably yes, because I need my job and salary to pay my bills.
When the outcome of our decisions is more serious, we take the time to stop and weigh more carefully the ramifications.
Who is taking the kids to school today and who is picking them up? The solution is usually determined within the family. However, if family members are not available, the problem can take on more significane. Is a neighbor available or a school Mom? How well do I know that person? If no one is available, what other options do I have? Depending on the age of the children, these may include allowing them to walk to school by themselves, etc.
All decisions are based on some kind of problem solving that requires identifying the problem accurately and the pros and cons of potential solutions. With more complex problems, it becomes harder and harder to identify what the core problem is.
A husband and wife are getting older. Both are experiencing deteriorating health problems, but one spouse’s health becomes worse requiring more and more full time care. The healthier spouse does not want to put the at risk spouse in a long term care facility and tries to do all the care giving required, further compromising health issues of safety.
One major problem can reveal many attached problems, such as, in this example: available finances, potential major move, emotional trauma, etc. The core problem remains: how do I maintain and keep my spouse safe with appropriate care, and keep from compromising my health and our financial situation. If I continue to personally care for my spouse, and my health deteriorates, how do I keep my spouse safe should something unexpected happen to me? What is the downside of doing nothing? What will we have to give up or compromise? What costs are involved with in-home health care vs a care giving facility? Will I need to sell my home? Is there a way for us to stay together? Do I hire someone full time or part time? Etc.
When adversities come at a rapid and unexpected pace, we easily become overwhelmed. If we are unfamiliar with problem solving steps involved in finding good choices, we will find it difficult to step back out of the emotional morass and breakdown the problem into manageable segments.
Here are the basic components for problem solving.
PROBLEM SOLVING STEPS
Step 1 – Identify and define the problem succinctly and accurately
Step 2 – Generate Solutions
Step 3 – Evaluate Solutions
Step 4 – Choose one of the best solutions
Step 5 – Implement Solution
Step 6 – Evaluate your solution – if necessary pick another one
Next week, we will explore each of these steps more.