Most of us worry, or have worried, at some point. Some people do it constantly. A worry is yet another example of a negative thought getting in the way.
Unfortunately, as worries circulate in our mind they gain momentum, increasing in size and magnitude. What worrying doesn’t do is solve the problem.
Here are seven steps to solve any problem…
1) Identify and define clearly what the problem is.
Firstly – do it on paper (or a computer screen). Especially if you have a significant concern, its easier to get facts clear if you write things out. When you try to define your problem(s) you may find there isn’t actually a problem at all. If there is more than one, go through this process separately for each one. Be as specific as you can.
2) Generate possible solutions
This used to be called brainstorming – I think we’re now supposed to say “blue sky thinking”. Basically write down any ideas that occur to you without editing. Be as creative and as imaginative as possible. Get as many ideas down as you can.
3) Select possible solutions
Now start editing and discard the inappropriate or unrealistic solutions on your list. Hopefully they’ve done their job to leave you with a workable list – or you may find you’re left with only one solution already. If there are no solutions left? Sometimes you do have problems where the answer is “do nothing”, or there is nothing you personally can do at the moment. If you worry about world famine or global warming, you may discover there is nothing you can do on an international scale, but have to content yourself with some local initiative.
4) Pros and Cons of each solution
Assuming you are left with more than one possible answer, look at each carefully and try to list the advantages and disadvantages of each.
5) Choose the best solution
At this stage you should have written out all you can about the feasible possibilities – its time to make a decision.
6) Plan of Action
Yes, its easy to forget this bit! Having decided on the best solution, breakdown and plan the steps to put wheels in motion. Include some sort of time frame and ensure that if the plan involves others, you communicate with them. Then get going.
This isn’t always necessary (or desirable), but for some problems, especially where changing to another solution is still possible you should review how things have worked out. Ideally set a review date at the planning stage, don’t review at the first “wobble”. If necessary, revise the plan or go through the process again in light of this new experience.
Even if the problem is now behind you, it can be useful to review as part of reflective learning – which we should all be doing as part of our personal development.
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