Some problems just won’t go away.
No matter what we try, they are like the Energizer Bunny: They keep going and going and going!
The good news is that there just may be a way to resolve that problem once and for all.
In fact there may be many solutions.
Here are 10 different ways to help you think about and resolve your most difficult problems.
1. Seek to Understand the Problem
To solve a problem you must first understand it. You can do that with any problem by asking questions and getting more information.
The questions you ask are important as well, as you try to understand the problem fully in order to help find the right solution. The five “W” questions might help: who, what, when, where and why.
They may provide answers or clues that lead to a resolution of the problem at hand. You can also understand the problem by visualizing elements of it by creating a picture, diagram or model of the situation. When we see the problem the solution may be close at hand.
2. Try to Work it Out
It may sound corny, but even acting out the problem may help you understand both its causes and the effects, and as a result, the solution can become clearer.
You can also develop a worst case scenario, observing the problem unfold and evolve and being prepared and open for a solution, if and when it presents itself.
Another way to work it out might be to try looking at the problem from another person’s point of view, thus enhancing or complimenting your own perspective. It may be beneficial in leading toward a solution.
3. Keep it Simple
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you solve a big problem? Focus on the smaller elements that make up the larger whole so that the task is manageable – one piece of the puzzle at a time.
Select one aspect of the problem and solve that piece. Continue the process until each element is resolved, and the puzzle is complete. Work on what you can, leaving the sticking points for another time, another strategy.
Some problems can’t be solved right away. Get some sleep and your answer may be waiting for you when you wake up in the morning.
4. Look for the Cause
You can do this by identifying and examining what happens before, during and after a situation, rather than focusing on the outcome alone.
Look for patterns that might identify the cause by organizing the information into a table, chart or list.
You could also try to imagine the current situation with and without the problem — the cause may become more evident, with a solution quick to follow.
If you do more investigation, you just might find multiple causes and/or variables at work in your situation. And you may also find a solution.
5. Ask for Help
No matter how hard we try, we just can’t find the answer to some problems on our own. In those occasions we should consult an expert advisor for advice and perspective.
There may also be manuals or guides that can help or even tools or technology that can diagnose and solve the problem. Scientists suggest collecting more data or information. Would that help? At this point, what have you got to lose?
6. Focusing on the Solution
Sometimes if you start with possible solutions and then work backwards through the problem and its immediate impact, you may find the answer.
It also helps your mental attitude to stay focused on the solution, because the problem will just bring you down. Trial and error might also be worth the effort — take your best guess — it may get you closer to your goal.
7. What’s the Percentage?
Take a look at possible solutions and calculate the risks and chances of success measured against the options as they present themselves. Try to identify the best percentage option to move forward with.
Reduce your risk as much as possible, but remember it is better to move forward with your best option than to stay stuck in the problem. You can always change course later, but for now implement the best solution and monitor its effects over time.
8. Think Better Not Harder
Some approaches can even help you think better while you are trying to solve a problem. Brainstorming is popular and often highly effective.
It can be a useful tool to bring a team together, giving rise to plenty of ideas — some of which may provide a viable solution.
If your head hurts after thinking about a problem then give it a break. Try not thinking about the problem for a whole day. You may be surprised at the results.
9. Change Your Settings
Get out of the office, go for a walk, hop on a bike, sit in the park — step out of your head and in to new space, new thinking. Bring a friend or colleague — two heads are proverbially better than one!
Start believing that you can solve this particular problem. Use mantras, positive self-talk — whatever it takes — to help prevent you from losing faith that you can succeed. I think I can. I think I can. I can.
10. Relax and Let Go
Give it your best effort, but let go of the result. Some problems are easy and you will solve them in a snap. Others take time. At the end of the day, be satisfied with your efforts. Tomorrow is a new day and there will be new problems to solve.
Searching for solutions to problems can bring us to our most creative places as well as our most frustrated. How do you like to solve your problems?