Problem solving strategies

Do you see the constant need for problem solving strategies because of perceived obstacles all around you, or do you see those obstacles as challenges to be faced in everyday life?


Our problems are man-made.  Therefore, they may be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.
John F Kennedy



The chances are that your attitude to the problems we all face in our personal or business lives will very much assist in their resolution and the degree of success you achieve.  

The art of problem solving is something we all need to learn to keep us moving forward.

Focus on problem solving strategies

You have planned your work for the day, you have a target in mind for exactly what you want to achieve and then, out of the blue, an unforeseen event occurs that you view as a problem. 

It is quite easy at this stage to be irritated or angry, but the moment anger takes over you cease to be at your best.  

You immediately focus more on the problem and less on the problem solving activity that is now needed.

Recognise, firstly, that there is a problem and it needs to be resolved.  If you don’t, it will either get worse or reappear in a different shape.

It is good to have problem solving techniques at hand because, firstly, you know they will appear no matter how much you try to avoid them and, secondly, the sooner you get past them the richer will be your experience and the more confident you will be for the future.

Activity needs problem solving strategies

If you never do anything you won’t be troubled much by problems.  The more you get involved, the more you try to succeed, the more frequent will problems arise.  Consider them as stepping-stones to the next and higher stage.

As you solve them, the harder will be the problems.  Life is like that.  

But the more your experience grows, the better will you be at dealing with them.  

So at the outset change your attitude and view them positively.

What does that little voice say in your mind when you encounter a problem?  Does it say something like, “Why do I keep making mistakes like this?” 

If you allow it to do that, it will stay on the wrong path because it will focus on making mistakes.  

If you catch yourself using that sort of language, change it to something like:  “How can I find a solution to this?” or “What lessons can I learn from this challenge to make sure I am better equipped to deal with it next time round?”

Problem solving strategies and fight or flight

You probably know already about the fight or flight response that is deeply embedded within our psyche.  

What that means is whenever we perceive a danger – and for these purposes stress may be viewed in the same way – our body gets ready for emergency action.

So blood rushes to our major muscle groups and other organs that will be used to flee or to fight.  Consequently, the blood supply to the brain is reduced. 

When you think about that rationally, of course, it is the very time that the brain needs the blood.

If you find yourself feeling stressed or angry because a problem has arisen, try to stand back and rephrase your internal language.  

See it merely another challenge rather than a problem.  Replace emotive words with softer ones, take a few deep breaths and relax and let the blood flow to the brain where it is needed for thinking.

Sometimes we can sit around for ages fretting over the solution to our challenge, and the more we think the worse it seems to get.  If you find that happening, try changing your physiology.

Problem solving strategies and physiology

If you are sitting, stand up.  Take a few deep breaths.  Walk around your home or office space.  

Stretch your arms.  Clap your hands.  If you can do so without attracting too much attention, make an excited gesture. 

If you can escape from the building you are in, go for a walk.  If it can be a garden, park or countryside, so much the better.  

Any or all of these activities will oxygenate the brain and get you thinking more productively.

Problem solving strategies and reframing

Try to be grateful for the challenge.  Without them we cannot grow or expand our horizons.  Don’t make it worse than it is already.  

Try reframing it.  If you put an old picture in a new frame it can make the world of difference.

In other words, turn the situation around.  Consider how solving this challenge will make you stronger and better able to deal with future challenges.  

If the problem seems enormous, chunk it down and deal with it that way.

By “chunk it down”, I mean consider the various strands of the challenge and solve them separately.  

The human brain likes to break things down into smaller pieces and will often solve problems and challenges much quicker.

Be sure to spend less time considering the problem and more time thinking about the solution.  

Indeed, I suggest you spend only 20 per cent of your time on the problem which will leave you around 80 per cent of your time concentrating on the solution.

You can be sure that if the solution doesn’t come reasonably quickly, you are spending rather too long on the problem itself rather than focusing on the answer to it.

If you are still stuck, make a list of all the solutions there might possibly be.  You are looking for a hundred or so.  

Don’t consider them at this stage.  Just write them down as fast as you can think of them, so matter how silly they may seem.

When you have compiled a list of at least a hundred, then go through them carefully and look for the most promising and realistic ones.  Then apply the best ones. 

Problem solving strategies and anticipation

The advantage of this exercise is not only may it enable you to solve this problem, but it will also give you ideas for the future and enable you to anticipate further challenges before they happen.

You will feel now, I hope, that there is more than one way to experience a problem.  It can be viewed as devastating or an opportunity to excel. 

Try thinking of it in that light the next time an obstacle crosses your path.

Rather than worrying about how you are going to make ends meet this month, concentrate instead on how you will be able to make more money.  

There are plenty of articles on this website that will help you do that, and they won’t cost you a penny.

When you have defeated your problem or challenge – or however you like to describe it – take a little time to celebrate.  

We don’t do enough of that.  We spend too much time moping about our perceived failures and not enough time enjoying our successes.

The problem solving activities on this page should help you change your entire attitude.  

In future, concentrate on the challenge and think of the benefits that will come your way when you overcome the problem.  

Not only will you have greater experience, but you will have more resources for overcoming greater challenges in the future.



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