When you learn the basics of problem-solving it will be a skill that you use automatically.
In last week’s post, I outlined five basic components of problem solving; questions you need to ask to find the solution you want. Today you will set the criteria to resolve your problem and learn how to identify exactly what the main problem is.
Identify the problem – define the conflict
Whether the question is how to advance beyond basic survival, how to prepare for your financial future, or how to better communicate with your spouse, it is crucial that the problem be correctly defined.
Unless the problem is correctly defined, you will be trying to rid yourself of emotional distress rather than resolving the actual problem.
We experience problems every day that require some kind of action. Most are insignificant, or require little thought, such as, What will I wear today? Do I want to take the weekend off and get away? We make a decision and move on.
But other problems are more complex with more serious outcomes, such as, How can I make enough money to support my family or care for an aging parent? How do I survive this pandemic?
One problem often has a multitude of other problems attached, each requiring thought and consideration. An aging spouse with health issues may require additional care.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
We live in an age when information is available 24/7. Just install the right app and push the right button and you have anything and everything you want.
But do we?
We sign up for interesting and exciting courses online thinking when we have completed them, we will be able to bake a cake, take apart a car engine or know the best ways to travel. While all of this is wonderful and exciting, there is one step missing. Application.
Throughout this year, my blog posts have offered information, tools and strategies to meet the everyday challenges of life. But that information is just that – information – until it is used. Until we personally apply the information that can help us, it will simply remain good ideas.
“You think you’ve got problems – you should hear what happened to me last week…”
…And on and on it goes – we cannot wait to get together and share our stories of what new disaster we faced.
Life is ongoing problem solving.
And as much as we hate to have yet another unexpected intrusion in our well-laid plans, life would be pretty dull without them.
Problems of any kind demand some kind of resolution. Most decisions we make are so insignificant we rarely think about them, such as, what will I wear to work today? or, what shall I plan for dinner?
But others are more complicated and demand more thoughtful consideration. While symptoms keep us edgy and anxious, it may take a while to actually identify the problem that is creating those symptoms.