Part 6 in my series on problem-solving
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Final Steps – Implement and Evaluate
When I go through department stores, I am constantly on alert for that good bargain or unique pair of pants or top I might enjoy wearing.
If something grabs my attention, I hold it up in front of me in a nearby mirror to do a quick assessment.
- Does the color look good?
- Do I like the lines of the garment?
- What draws my attention to it from all the others on the rack?
If I still like it after a quick evaluation, I will try it on.
Only after I have tried it on will I know whether it is right for me. Does it look as good on me as it did on the quick preview?
Many times, after I put the garment on, I discover it looks completely different. The cut is all wrong, the color isn’t as complimentary as I thought, and it isn’t comfortable even though it is my size. While I still like it, it isn’t for me.
In the final steps of problem solving, look over your list of options, make a choice, implement it and then follow up with an assessment.
While I choose an option I think will be the solution to my problem, only after I “try it on” will I find out whether it is the right choice for me. It might seem to be the right answer on paper, but may not work out the way I thought it would in real life.
If my choice doesn’t work, I look at my other choices again. I do a new assessment.
- Have I identified the problem accurately?
- What new information can help refine the problem and its outcome?
As you’re assessing your own situation, on reflection, you might ask whether this is your problem to resolve, or perhaps it belongs to somebody else?
If it is yours, then keep trying different possibilities.
If it isn’t, focus on how you are responding to this situation. This can be a time of valuable insight.
For example, when I try on clothes, the bulges, extra weight and changing profile that I would rather forget are revealed.
Our solutions to problems can also be revealing.
If this problem includes other people, remember that each person involved needs to be included in the implementation in some way.
- Has everyone been honest about how they feel?
- Has everyone agreed to try out this potential solution and are they willing to move forward?
- Who evaluates whether the problem has been solved?
- How will you know if it is a successful solution?
It is easy to get discouraged when, after doing all the preliminary work, you find that the choice you’ve made isn’t working like you thought it might.
Don’t give up.
Refine, revise, or throw it out if necessary.
If others are involved, negotiate.
After executing the best solution, ask yourself, “Has my problem been resolved?”
How do you know? If it is working, what makes it work?
Be specific. In complex solutions that require a longer time frame, this follow-up helps keep you on track or continuing to refine your solution.
There is always some kind of resolution to our problems.
It may simply be an internal resolution that asks for a change in attitude and response in a different way. We aren’t able to make everything happen the way we want. Sometimes, what we learn in problem solving is a greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others.
Go back and look at the areas of your life where you want changes to happen. How can you use these problem-solving steps to help work out new strategies and results?
Choose one change you want to make and put it into a goal statement and plan of action. (click here for My Goal Plan.)
Remember that goals take time and energy.
Goals are not just about solving problems but achieving the things we want to accomplish.
If goals are too big or expansive, they need to be broken down into manageable chunks or we will get discouraged and abandon them.
But when our goals have personal value and reflect what is important to us, we will remain motivated.
Goals are both liberating and demanding.
We are required to use discipline and restraint to stay on course. Even when we have made a very detailed plan on how to reach our destination and have explored and made provisions for potential obstacles, we can run into unexpected setbacks that require adjustments or even a major redesign of our plan of action.
My husband and I were sailors.
After determining where you want to go, you choose a route to follow and a timeframe. On a sailboat, the wind determines how your sailboat will move. With a headwind, you are required to tack back and forth in a zig-zag fashion to move forward.
If the wind is too strong, you reduce the amount of sail you have up. If the wind dies down, you put up a lightweight sail that can capture the slightest breezes.
The wind is the driver – the source of energy that moves you from place to place. The expert sailor knows how to take advantage of it so that you arrive at your destination.
Goals are the driving force – the source of motivation that energizes us to get to a new destination.
The winds of life at the moment will determine the adjustments or corrections that must be made. Knowing how to adjust your “sails” will allow you to compensate for whatever conditions you are facing, keeping you off the rocks and shoals.
When we run into problems or are not making the headway we want, it is necessary to step back and evaluate the situation.
While solving problems sounds simple, identifying the problem accurately is often more difficult and complex. We see the symptoms but may need more information and input to correctly identify and resolve the problem.
When our goals follow our passions, we will become excited. We can see ourselves doing this for the rest of our life. Those passions are the result of the skills and unique talents God gave each of us.
When we develop these skills and talents we serve others as well. Those passions are for the good of all, not just us. When they are, our goals will not only give us pleasure and joy, but that sense of contentment and satisfaction.
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