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.
It is only after I have tried it on, however, that I will 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. When I choose an option I think will be the solution to my problem, it is 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.
If not, go back and look at your choices again. Do a new assessment. Have I identified the problem accurately? What new information from this process can help refine the problem and it outcome.
For example, is this really your problem or does it belong to somebody else? If it is yours, then keep trying different possibilities. If it isn’t, focus on how you are responding to your situation. This can be a valuable time to discover more about yourself. 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 your problem involves 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 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 to keep you on track or to continue to refine both problem and solution.
There is always some kind of solution to our problems. That solution may simply be an internal one 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.