Effective Problem Solving

Effective Problem Solving

Problem solving is a skill that we do well to learn. We all face problems and the decisions that come with them. Oftentimes the solution is not readily apparent. Here we will consider some techniques to make a rational decision that is most likely to lead to a solution.

Define the problem:

Get a clear view of the scope of the problem, and write it down. At times, we may exaggerate the problem consciously or unconsciously. Now we need to look at the problem objectively and logically. It is also important to be positive. Most problems we face can be solved or at least mitigated. A problem that lingers is one we do nothing about.

What is your desired outcome?

Be realistic and specific about your desired outcome. You need a way to measure your progress toward your goal. Define your goal in numbers, dates, or both. Always define your goals in terms of things you have control over. As an example, 'I want to be a rich' is not as good as I will invest 25% of my income for the next 25 years.

Do not be quick to abandon your goal. Look at this way, suppose your goal is to be a millionaire when you retire, but your plan predicts that you will only have $600,000.00 in the bank. If you abandon your goal now, you are essentially throwing away $600000.00. Goals do change, especially long term goals, and we will need to adjust them as we go!

What is your current reality?

Where are you now in your journey? Are you close to reaching your goal, or are you further away? How do you feel about your chances of success?

What are your options?

There are always options, some are better than others. Doing nothing is an option, but that course is not recommended. It will create anxiety and accomplish nothing. There is an idiom that states 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.' If you cannot see your options, try brainstorming to come up with some.

How do I get to my goal?

Now that you know where you are, where you want to be, and your options, you can start planning the steps necessary to solve your problem.

  • Make a list of steps to take.
  • At first, just write everything down.
  • Next, weed out the ones that are not promising.
  • Rewrite your list.
  • Start on it today!

If you encounter an obstacle on your way to your goal, use this problem solving technique to fix it and continue on.

Let's use an example of how this can be applied.

Define the Problem:

Terry got a pink slip on Monday. Terry was told it was due to a restructuring, Terry was not fired.

Future Outcome:

Terry would like to get a new job in the same field for the same pay, or better pay.

Current Reality:

Terry has an emergency fund and will be ok for several months.

Terry can apply for unemployment benefits which will extend the emergency fund for several weeks.


Terry's options are (1) Look for work in the same field, (2) Start a business, (3) Train for a new career.


Terry (1) applied for unemployment benefits, (2) scheduled a resume review through unemployment, (3) participated in an interview workshop also through unemployment, (4) cold called potential employers and (5) networked through previous coworkers, family, and friends.

As a result, Terry was reemployed in a similar position.

You can have the same success!