8. Problem solving
We cannot completely avoid problem situations, and worrying about them does not help to solve problems. In this section, you’ll learn new and more functional problem-solving methods.
Effective problem-solving consists of the following six stages
- Defining the problem: what’s it all about?
- Defining the goal: how do I want this to turn out?
- Listing solution options: list all the possible solutions that come to mind. Don’t consider whether they are good or practical solutions at this time.
- Choosing the best solution: narrow down the list in the previous section, leaving only the practical ideas. Choose the best of these.
- Planning the implementation: plan how, where and when you will implement the solution.
- Evaluating the implementation: After implementation, go back and evaluate the success of the solution. If the first solution didn’t work, choose the next solution on the list.
Exercise: The phases of problem-solving
You will learn to consider all the different options for problem-solving, flexibly and realistically. You can see other options than bad ones.
Can you think of a problem that is weighing on your mind at this time? Now you can practise problem-solving skills by thinking about sections 1–5 in relation to your problem.
The situation is usually easier to understand if you do the exercise by writing the answers for each phase on paper or a computer.
1. Defining the problem. What’s it all about?
2. Defining the goal. How do I want this to turn out?
3. Listing the solution options:
List all the solution options that come to mind. Don’t consider whether they are helpful or realistic at this time.
4. Choose the best solution
Narrow down the list in the previous section, leaving only the realistic ideas. Choose the best of these.
5. Planning implementation:
Now, plan how, where and when you will implement the solution.
6. Evaluating implementation:
After implementation, go back and evaluate the success of each solution.
Rules of thumb for functional problem-solving
Start with problems that you can solve here and now
Divide the solution into intermediate goals that you try to achieve one by one. Later on, you can also practice more time-consuming solutions.
Reserve time for problem-solving and record all the stages
For example, you can use worry time for this.
Practice identifying problems so that you can solve them in time
Negative feelings are usually a sign of some problem. For example, if you notice feelings of anger, fear or anxiety in yourself, try to immediately think about what problem this feeling is telling you about. If you can’t identify the problem, you can’t solve it either.
Anxiously dwelling on things focuses on what could go wrong.
Worrying doesn’t solve problems.
On the other hand, problem-solving involves flexible and realistic consideration of all the different options, not only the negative consequences.
Now we’ll move on to the last section, where you’ll receive some tips for the future.