Dare To Live Without Limits

Bryan Golden

Problem solving calls for some creative thinking

Everyone has problems and all problems have solutions. The challenge lies in finding the appropriate solution for each problem. Some problems may appear unsolvable and leave you feeling overwhelmed. But you can rest assured that there is always a solution. Additionally, effective problem solving techniques can be learned.
Yet not everyone strives to actively discover the best solution. Some give up and let problems get the best of them. Others take the path of least resistance, embracing the easiest course of action that appears.
Another mistake is taking someone else’s advice without determining its appropriateness to your specific situation. You can make a problem worse by doing the wrong thing and not thinking before you act.
Before a problem can be solved, you must correctly identify exactly what the problem is. Any solution that doesn’t address the root cause will be ineffective and give the illusion that the problem is unsolvable.
Suppose Barbara is unhappy with her job. She is in her third retail job in two years. What should Barbara do? Barbara can’t decide what she needs to do until she figures out exactly what’s the cause of her unhappiness.
Is Barbara in an occupation she doesn’t like? Does she need a more challenging position in the same industry? Does she need more customer contact or less? Are Barbara’s interpersonal skills in need of improvement? Perhaps Barbara wants to be in her own business and will never be satisfied working for someone else.
Each one of the above possibilities has its own specific solution. If Barbara resolves an issue that isn’t the cause of her dissatisfaction, the problem will persist and she will get more frustrated and discouraged.
So the initial step to problem solving is correctly identifying the actual basis of your dilemma. Once this is done, you have taken a major step to finding a solution. Problems don’t have to be solved in one step. Breaking an issue down into multiple steps makes it manageable.
A problem can have both short and long term solutions. A short-term solution can provide you with immediate relief whereas the long-term solution thoroughly addresses the root cause of the problem.
Suppose Barbara decides she really doesn’t like working in retail. She’s always enjoyed working with computers and wants to become a programmer, but she has no formal training. Barbara’s long-term solution is to get a job as a programmer.
Her short-term solution is to begin taking courses in programming. Barbara can start doing this part-time while keeping her current job. With this strategy, Barbara will alleviate some of her frustration by taking steps to attain her long-term solution.
When seeking a solution, be creative. Don’t limit yourself to only what you think is possible. Consider every alternative, regardless of how outlandish it may seem. Daydream and create a wish list of solutions. The longer your list, the greater the chance of discovering the ideal one for you.
There is one restriction. A solution may not cause harm to yourself or someone else. To be effective, any solution must be an improvement.
There are circumstances where a short-term solution requires sacrifice to effect a long-term solution. For example, you and your family are living in a cramped apartment but would like to own a home. You have to limit your discretionary spending in order to save enough for a down payment. Any reduction in lifestyle is palatable because it is a short-term action that enables you to realize your long-term solution.
Don’t hide from problems in the hope they will go away. Ignoring problems tends to make them worse. Whenever you face a problem remember that a solution exists. Your challenge is to discover it. Problem solving gets easier the more you do it.

NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.  2022 Bryan Golden


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