In a time of overwhelming uncertainty, the need for imagination and creativity can often be the difference between winning and losing; between making progress and hitting a dead end. The way we approach our problems, big and small, can also be the difference-maker in avoiding mental health challenges when we do encounter challenges.
Within the cognitive psychology community, the term problem solving refers to the mental process that people go through to discover, analyze, and eventually solve problems.
It goes without saying; problems are at the heart of what you do every day. Whether you’re solving problems related to your studies, for your boss at work, or even the occasional family fall-out.
And owing to the historical start to 2020, there’s no better time to develop skills and techniques to effectively handle problems that might come your way. The world being in a topsy-turvy state means we need to seek out novel ways to keep afloat and prepare to thrive.
While problems differ according to every scenario, there are three ways you can ensure you practice handling everyday challenges more effectively . . .
Keeping calm helps a great deal with avoiding panic and loss of perspective. When you can relax and allow yourself to think, you can come up with and explore more efficient solutions than is possible when acting purely out of stress mode.
When we’re stressed out, we tend to opt for a binary approach to solving problems, which limits our options. During hard times, we’re likely to jump right to tried-and-true methods rather than explore new ways of thinking and action.
Define the problem
“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution” – Steve Jobs
Go through a process where you dig into what needs to be solved. To do it successfully, you’ll need to ask compelling questions – as many as possible. What am I trying to solve and achieve? What caused this problem? What am I not seeing or possibly avoiding? Is there only one option or perhaps more to a solution? Etc. The aim is to arrive at the root of the problem.
Working through these questions requires total honesty and humility.
Zoom out to find perspective
It all starts with zooming out of the scene. This is because it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of what you’re trying to achieve that you lose sight of the bigger picture. When we don’t make a deliberate effort to step back and enlarge our view, we’re likely to hit a snag. We’ll spend much of the time walking among the individual trees when we should really be looking at the entire forest.
Stepping away, even momentarily, from the issue to explore the whole context of the situation goes a long way to determine a course of action.
And what’s interesting is, the presence of problems in our lives is forever. So we better buckle up and learn to make problem-solving part of our lives.