A Simple Problem-Solving Formula

Dwelling on issues and feeling sorry for yourself never solved anything. I know because I've spent plenty of time feeling sorry myself and I can assure you that dwelling on the negativity never helped me move forward. Not once. Even worse was sharing the misery with others. It is true that misery loves company. Talking…

Dwelling on issues and feeling sorry for yourself never solved anything. I know because I've spent plenty of time feeling sorry myself and I can assure you that dwelling on the negativity never helped me move forward. Not once. Even worse was sharing the misery with others. It is true that misery loves company.

Talking about problems is fine but it's only half the equation. The other half of the equation is usually missing – talking about a solution. I never used to be interested in finding solutions, at least not ones that were good for me. It was so much more satisfying to focus on the problem. Or so I thought. Over time I learned that talking about the problem only needs to be a small fraction of the problem / solution ratio.

This is a good step by step method for solving problems:

  1. Identify the problem. Be careful not to dwell on the issue. Just a sentence or two that clearly states the issue. The more you boil it down to the bare facts, the less you get got up in the drama.
  2. List 5 things you can do about it. Every problem has solutions, even though they may not be apparent. Get creative and do not worry if it looks silly. The best idea might come out of an option that does not make sense.
  3. List the pros and cons of each option. Once you have some ideas to work with make a list of what is good and what is bad about each. It is easy to be inclined to find fault with all of them if you are not used to looking for solutions but keep pressing on.
  4. Decide on the best solution. Review your list and find out which solution is best. Keep in mind that it may be a situation where you feel like you are just picking the lesser of two evils. That is only because you are not used to working with solutions and sticking with what you know, even though it is not good for you, is more comfortable than change.
  5. Take action. Dive in and embrace the process. Do not worry about being perfect, focus on refining and moving forward. Change is not easy but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.

Things changed for me when I got tired enough of myself to want to change. These days I want solutions. I want to be around people who want solutions. I want to work with clients who want solutions. Sitting in the problem is not the solution. I can either accept things as they are or I can do something. Not accepting and not doing anything are no longer options.

My encouragement is that you will take time to identify one recurring problem that you can not, or will not, solve and apply this process. Push through even if it feels awkward and uncomfortable and I guarantee that you will begin to see things differently over time. Remember, you can achieve whatever you believe as long as you are willing to work for it!