No problem is too big to overcome. In fact, what we call a ‘problem’ is actually a challenge that, when solved, offers a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.
In any endeavor, problem solving and decision making involves a series of small, logical, and organized steps. Taking these steps will deliver you at the final result you envision and give you that unequaled joy of turning your dream into reality.
Imagine standing at the bottom of a mountain. The thought of climbing to the top may leave you feeling tiny, insignificant, and powerless. The size and scope of such a journey can be intimidating, but the truth is, you can climb this mountain with little effort.
Taking one step at a time is the key to problem solving. Below are four steps to guide you as you conquer your fears and master new strategies for problem solving.
4 Steps to Problem Solving
Step 1: Define the problem using straightforward, critical thinking techniques. Ask yourself, “What is the real problem?” Successful strategies for problem solving only work when one identifies the real problem and its underlying cause. A surface problem may be experienced by someone who feels he deserves a raise at work but has not been offered more money. The real problem is not the raise, but rather his avoidance of the boss, fear of asking for an increase in wages, or the fact he hasn’t showcased his organizational skills that can open the door for a promotion.
Step 2: Brainstorm. Let your imagination run wild. What action steps will get you one step closer to your goal? Don’t limit your ideas at this point. Reach out to your friends. What worked for them? Think about what you have done in the past that worked, and what hasn’t worked. From this list, choose the best, most logical, affordable path and commit to working out the steps to implement your plan.
Step 3: Decide what steps you must take and write them down. This is where critical thinking techniques come into play. What must you do first, second, third? Having a written plan reminds you of your progress and allows you to measure your success.
Step 4: Now that you have mapped out the steps to your plan, set deadlines. Accomplish at least one item on your list every day, even if it is a small step like making one phone call or asking for a letter of reference.
By completing each step, you gain pride in yourself. Every successive action gets easier and more exciting as you get closer to your goal.
With these four steps to problem solving, you can identify the problem, use critical thinking techniques to recognize the underlying cause, call on your organization skills to set a plan in motion, and take one step toward your goal every day. In doing so, you will have reached the top of the mountain… one small, simple step at a time. Feel accomplished.
Edmond Otis is a motivator, communicator, and coach. He draws on his career and life skills to come up with memorable conversation topics that speak to a variety of people throughout Australia, New Zealand and the US. If you like his 4 Steps to Problem Solving, consider Edmond for your next speaking event or purposeful group gathering.