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Basic problem solving in six steps

We all face difficult decisions and problems in our daily lives. Some problems are quite small and easy to resolve, whilst others can require some significant effort and time to work through and sort out. Problem solving is a skill you can develop. Whether the problem is small, medium or large, it is helpful to have a basic plan for working things out and deciding on a course of action.

Problem solving
6 steps to problem solving

The below six steps focus on identifying the particular problem, to consider and evaluate options in order to reach a decision to be acted upon and learnt from. These steps provide a framework for problem solving that can be used by individuals, couples or groups.

The next time you have a problem that you want to work upon, get a piece of paper or create a document and then work your way through the headings, making a record of the different options and steps.

Step 1: Identify the problem

What is the problem? Identify specifically what it is that you want to change or sort out.

Step 2: Identify your options

What are the possible solutions as you see it? Make a list of every option you can think of, even those that seem unlikely. Consulting with others can be helpful here, as they might pick up on possibilities you haven’t considered.

Step 3: Weigh your options

Go through each option you’ve listed, and consider their potential benefits and consequences. Yep, do this for every option.

Step 4: Choose an option

After looking at the pros and cons of each option, one may jump out as the most likely for you. If not, just pick one! This is not about being right or wrong, it is about choosing the best available option for this particular problem and simply giving it a try.

Step 5: Put it into action

This is where the rubber hits the road; where you can make it happen.

Step 6: Review

It is always worth taking time to review results. What is the learning? What if a similar problem presented itself? Would you do the same thing again, or are there other alternatives?

An extra optional step

Keeping a log of how you handled particular problems, and the learning in relation to what worked and what you might do differently next time, will enhance your options, choices and sense of control over your life.

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