Without this skill, you cannot be happy, you cannot succeed well in life! The better you are at it, the happier you will be. Guaranteed!
Using this process, as laid out, will have a huge payoff. Problem solving is the central key to all of life, for it is solution finding resulting in things going well in life!
It's simple! JUST USE THE FORMS! (They guide you through the process and make it easier!) The people who succeed in life all have in common that they notice "feedback" (i.e. problems occurring) and immediately engage in problem solving and correcting what is going on - they adjust quickly and frequently, for a very smooth and happy ride through life. (See Living Life As A Life Champion.)
ALL "PROBLEMS" ARE BASED ON: (Undesired results caused by either/both of these two things)
1. A bad system/process that produces undesired results.
2. Bad beliefs that produce bad feelings. (Bad beliefs are just another bad system.)
THE PROCESSES TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS
Just use these:
2. The Process For Changing (This is actually part of the problem solving and planning process necessary to accomplish a goal effectively.)
VASTLY IMPROVING LIFE
Yes, we must fix problems as soon as they come up, but the main forwarder of life is to proactively identify the many existing problems and then solve them, asap! Since we can't do that all at once, we put them in order of impact/importance, and handle them sequentially down the list - for real gains as we go - we don't have to wait for the benefits, as they will flood in soon.
You can go ahead and fix a problem right now, but you also must, to have a good life, develop your prioritized list of problems to solve, starting with the top 10 (you can add the others as you go, but just start here).
Then you just stick them in the appropriate problem solving form and fill in the answers. (Orient yourself by reading The Problem Solving Process and then going to the forms listed therein.)
UNSOLVED PROBLEMS, FAILED CHANGES ARE FROM BAD STRATEGIES, NOT "WEAKNESSES"
Neither change nor problem solving is "hard". What is true is:
1. As with other things, we simply need to have a good process.
2. And life will in fact be easier when problems are solved.
If we have "problems" in our life, this is a sign that we
Haven't done problem solving (duh!)
We haven't done the right, complete process
So, as soon as possible begin the process that is laid out for you, using the forms that guide you. And do the prioritized list of problems to knock off, one by one, for a problem free life!!!!
DO I NEED A "SUPER-BRAIN" TO DO THIS WELL?
No, you need only a normal human brain of near average intelligence.
To use the brain effectively, it needs to be in a well-rested, alert state, enough to do simple thinking.
Beyond that it is all about following the processes provided herein.
All you do is to use your brain to, per the guiding pieces in the process that is laid out for you: (Don't memorize this, just scan it get the idea of what is necessary AND for you to realize that you can do each of these with the right "cooking" instructions.)
Perceive (see what is going on)
Decide what result is to be achieved (i.e. "what you want")
Identify what happened, including the cause of the undesired result
Get possible alternative solutions
Act on it (use the "skill of change" to implement it successfully)
THE END RESULT WILL BE
The end result from your doing simple diligence and smart effort applied with little time:
You will have few problems, and they will only be small ones not yet needing solution.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
As always, familiarize yourself in two stages. Read the discussion pages for a quick overview. And schedule (tickle on your calendar) to read more in depth later.
List and prioritize by impact your problems to solve, starting with the top 10, and adding others later (but always in order of impact!).
You can stick with the simpler forms and that is ok. But I would prefer and suggest that you become familiar over time with the full range, as you will be able to use your improved skill over and over and over to produce great results over and over and over!
(If you jump right into the process, be sure to tickle or put on your definite "to do" list, to read the rest of this page to get more perspective and to learn more. "Smart use" of the site would include using this page for navigating to the necessary pieces in Problem Solving, Decision Making, Creating Change Contents/Links - Scan to find items of interest and to link.)
GETTING MORE PERSPECTIVE, LEARNING MORE
Some of this is a repeat, as it was the original piece, which I subsequently simplified above.
THE COMPLETE DISCUSSION/LEARNING - READ THIS PAGE -
Table of contents:
Schematic and QuikSumm
Definition of a "problem"
Decision-making = Choosing the best solution, choosing to act on it
Good decision making indicated by getting good results
Mastering decision-making is the key to a happy, vital life!
Solving a problem
Discussion - All of life is about choices and decision-making! Happiness and results are produced from it - or not....
Life consists of
Problem solving is...
Problem solving is not...
The emotional/belief barrier
The viewpoint, and emotion management
Implementing effective decision making
Breakthroughs, decisions, problems - Readings, forms, methods
Creating more ideas, inputs - Makes a huge difference!
Thinking skill related to effective problem solving
"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them."
"A 'problem' is simply a gap between 'what is so' and 'what is desired'. It is not something to add suffering to/about. Life is a process of 'going forward' to more of what we want - sometimes doing the tango, two steps forward, one back... Problem solving is solution finding and is the skill for getting more of what you want - and sooner! I highly recommend it - and that you become a master at it, so that you do not simply float with the wind, but take command of the rudder at the highest level - you'll like where you end up!"
DEFINITION OF A "PROBLEM"
WHAT WE WANT
THE GAP = PROBLEM
DECISION-MAKING = HOW/WHAT TO CLOSE THE GAP
Neede to better close the gap:
System - An excellent, effective one
"Tools" - Effective ones to use
GOOD DECISION-MAKING, EFFECTS →
Less severe problems
MASTERING DECISION-MAKING IS THE KEY TO A HAPPY, VITAL LIFE!
We waste huge amounts of time making the wrong decisions in life!
And we need not have big problems if we solve them when they're little!
Learn this area, as it will eliminate much (unnecessary) unhappiness
"...it seems quite apparent that having problems and solving them is what work and life are about." Larry Wilson, in Play To Win
We can complain, think this shouldn't be - and we'd only feel bad. But we can problem solve effectively and feel a mastery of life!
DEFINITION = Perceived gap between the existing and the desired state or condition.
SOLVING A PROBLEM = Closing the gap via thinking and then actions, which must be discrete and doable and complete enough to achieve success.
"A problem is not a problem unless you think it is a problem. Why would we think that a gap is a bad problem, when it is actually only a gap to close?"
LIFE CONSISTS OF
Life consists of:
1. A myriad of choices and
2. Enjoying or not enjoying the consequences,
3. Understanding how to view life - Which determines the quality of
A choice is simply a decision among alternatives (and there need not be any suffering added to it). Therefore, it is vital that we have an excellent, excellent decision making process to make good choices that determine the quality of our lives.
Some choices will be among alternatives that do not mean alot, but many choices will be life-determining. It is highly desirable, though we're not perfect, to make right choices the first time - and, on important items, to follow the Carpenter's Rule: "Measure twice cut once."
PROBLEM SOLVING IS...
Problem solving is simply a decision making process - choices to alleviate the problem are
1. Discovered and then
2. A (hopefully intelligent) choice is made.
A "problem" is simply a situations where the desired result is not present, and the solution lies in achieving the desired result or removing the barrier to achieving it.
All decision making is about actually "solving" a problem or "solving" the lack of the desired result. So, problem solving and decision-making are the same thing.
This ability determines your life path.
I repeat, in case you didn't "grok" the importance of this:
This ability determines your life path.
Mastering this well will create living life well, so it is a vital, vital, vital skill to drive to the highest level in any area of life, including happiness.
Don't put it aside just because you can "get by" without it...
PROBLEM SOLVING IS NOT...
It could justifiably be said that a symptom is a problem (as it is something not desired) and that problem solving is curing the symptom. True enough.
But real problem solving goes to the basic cause at the beginning of a chain of events, thoughts, or symptoms. Read and understand Cause And Effect. It is true also that a symptom can then cause another problem, but the highest solution is at the earliest point in the chain! (Reread that, and believe it!!!) We spend a lot of effort learning dealing with the problem’s symptoms rather than solving the underlying causes. I would recommend that you stop doing it that way, because if you don't solve the problem at the basic cause level, you're going to keep repeating the symptoms and then have to deal with those, again and again and again. See Completion - The Process Creating Great Power.
THE EMOTIONAL/BELIEF BARRIER
For human beings, there are some "practical" pieces to proper decision-making and some "emotional" or "personal" elements. Poor decisionmaking can be a result of emotions blocking an effective process and/or a result of not using an effective process. If you read the Emotion Management section, you'll see how even "tough decisionmakers" will allow emotion to sway a decision the wrong way. Emotions (hopefully good ones) are the results of decision making and should never be the determinants (only a consideration) of the decision(!).
While we will work with the necessary mechanics of decisionmaking here, it is necessary and legitimate (not airy fairy) to consider the proper management of emotion and the viewpoint from which a decision is made.
The mechanics will be straightforward, practical, and easily used - consisting of what I call "doables".
THE VIEWPOINT, AND EMOTION MANAGEMENT
The viewpoint and emotion management can be more subtle and therefore may take a bit more clarifying as to how important they are to a good decision and how to utilize them in good decisionmaking.
Surely you'd agree that a person who is angry often will not make good decisions.
And perhaps you'd even agree that a person who is tired is not as likely to make good decisions. A person feeling fear will be subject to making poor decisions, as the fear will overweight certain factors plus it will mechanically block the ability of the brain to work intelligently, as explained in The Development Of The Mind And How It Works, which you need to know in order to be able to manage your mind and accordingly to live an effective life!
A refreshed feeling-good person will make better decisions, as they are likely to be viewing things more objectively. A fully-fed person will make better choices, especially when food shopping (as in "never go shopping when you are hungry", actually or metaphorically!). A person who has resolved to be strong yet compassionate (a "state of being") will make better choices. A person who is not critical and not blaming will make cleaner choices.
And even a person who "comes from" or "looks from" the viewpoint of an imaginary (wiser) person or surrogate chooser will make a better decision.
Just asking the question "what would Buddha do" (or Mohammed or Jesus or Gandhi or Warren Buffett, etc., depending on who you admire or believe in).
"What would a clear-thinking, confident, well-grounded person decide?" would be a good question (viewing point).
While this section include decision-making in business, money, work, etc., it more importantly deals with significant life decisions.
Later we talk about getting complete enough information, as one cannot make a good decision based on lack of or incorrect information. This is vitally true in our personal lives where we humans have been proven to very poorly predict what will make us happy - so we waste huge amounts of time seeking something that will not produce what we want! Read about the Cute Puppy Dog syndrome, below. (You might want to read about this in the Producing Happiness section.)
So, the above are the considerations to have about decisionmaking, and now the question is how to implement those effectively and with minimal effort (actually or emotionally).
IMPLEMENTING EFFECTIVE DECISION-MAKING
We simply must have appropriate and complete enough information (see Fact Finding, below), then apply a "thinking" process to that information. Humans tend to exaggerate and then rely on unrealistic expectations based on some attractive hopeful feature of something - often called the Cute Puppy Dog syndrome, where the idea is far more attractive than the actual taking care of and the problems. Gathering more realistic data, such as consulting with those who are actually doing what you consider an option and/or those who have experience is an essential ingredient of the success process - it is no fun to climb the ladder to the top and discover the ladder is against the wrong wall and that the anticipated reward and good feeling are not there!
But "how much effort should I put into this?", you might ask. Learn the "Law Of Payoff" that helps you know When To Quit and when to continue The amount of effort put into something should, of course, be based on the prospective outcome, the reward, the impact of the process and the endpoint. You would always follow The 80/20 Principle, The Principle To Run Your Life On, assessing where the greatest results are for the least effort.
If you are going to put effort into something, you want to use the most effective process (and not leave it up to chance or forgetting). The most direct way is to use one of the three levels of the T-Decision System (see below); this will often clear up any decision that seemed baffling before.
When you run up against a problem, try bumping up against it and using it as a platform for goal setting and perhaps a new breakthrough, in a well-accepted approach by some major consulting firms (see Breakthrough Form). Or for other problem solving techniques in a worksheet format see the Problem Solving Forms, below, or the Checklist, below. Put these together in any way that is useful for you, but be sure to know how and when to use these problem solving techniques. Also, you should review the main page for The Process Of Changing, which is a vital key to making progress in life.
READINGS (See "Forms", immediately following.)
See also Productivity and Time Management, as it has some distinctions that help you learn what is most important and most productive and when there is little return for your efforts.
Perspective on problems and change: This applies, clearly, to life, but it also, if you think about it,
applies equally to business, politics, government, etc.
making change happen.
"trigger" or "event" as the cause of the problem, but it is actually more based on
a "thought" and then a chemical body reaction that is uncomfortable. The
commitment to be a solver of an "actual problem" is asked in this piece - make
that commitment and you'll experience far fewer unsolved and/or continuing
know of so that you are not wasting your time OR putting too little effort into
something. Knowing when to stop is a key skill/knowledge factor.
Checklist - What To Include In What Order
reminders/checklist form, including all of what to consider and a checklist for
Fact finding - Obviously vital for a good decision.
damaging to the process.
FORMS - To help solve the problem and to make the actual decision
This is the page you would use ordinarily, once you have read this page and are just implementing the problem solving process.
The broader perspective - and a commitment to use it
*The Problem Is Not The Problem - The Real Problem is... - Often we assume the "symptom" is the problem, whereas it is actually the cause that is the source of the problem. (Of course, the symptom is undesired.) This is a commitment form, where you commit to following a "right thinking" mode rather than keepin' on keepin' on with erroneous beliefs that create the problem in the first place!!!!
Problem Solving Forms - Contains both a short one (slightly over a page) and a more thorough, deeper one where needed. This includes all the steps you MUST take in solving a problem, in the traditional format that has all the steps. It also includes an alternate form for a more thorough approach where it is warranted. If the problem has any importance to you, you'll use this practical form to assure a solution.
used all the factors and steps necessary to make the right decisions.
Deciding among two or more alternatives
The Ben Franklin T - Decision System - See the simple one, the intermediate one and/or the ultimate one to make crystal clear evaluations. Simply weighs the factors on both sides. Sometimes it's simple and sometimes we need the higher level process - the different levels are provided.
Alternative, but prime, problem-solving forms
Problem/GoalSetting/Breakthrough Form - This form applies a valuable process for simply observing the "problem", noting its impact clearly, getting clear on what the actual desired goal is, and then choosing what will work to and who you need to be to make that happen. A breakthrough often occurs, even though we are starting with a "breakdown."
Definition of a breakthrough: A "breakthrough" is the term used for the result of solving a problem at a higher level, such that you are much more able to achieve your desired outcome. Each piece is necessary - you can't skip these steps and get to the solution, though many try (unsuccessfully) to do do. You identify the problem and the impact on you and restate your intention. You then choose a new way of being, and from that new way of being, you pick the actions needed. I'll guarantee you'll get further with this approach than one without addressing and then choosing the way of being. The basic sheet is only one page!
on how to do very well the next time.
beliefs, attitudes, ways of being and a follow up that is beyond just solving the
breakdown, as it gets more into the underlying causes.
example of a real situation, including a more indepth reference to show how deep one
Problems solving forms in the PSYCHOLOGICAL areas
happened, what said to self, some perspective questions, questioning of thinking,
and then the answers and final perspective. This is a more rational way of
making conclusions than the way most of our conclusions have been made!!!!
Use this especially for psychological issues, but it is useful for solving any
problem in life and business and finances, etc.
CREATING MORE IDEAS, INPUTS
Get other people's inputs in order to go beyond your thinking or perspective. Using models and examples of how things have been done well is a key principle of creating success. Accessing the wisdom of another (who is, indeed, wise, as opposed to just well-meaning and fairly informed) is another key.
Networking For Advice - Asking advice of others rather than seeking anything directly from them. People tend to "enroll" themselves in contributing further to the cause. It is used as a key strategy for career/job finding (See BusinessWorkResources.) Brainstorming - The "Green Light" (anything goes!) approach to generating
incredibly expanded perspectives and ideas.
Brian Tracy had used this every morning on whatever came up.
Thinking Pieces Relevant To Effective Problem Solving:
Straight, clear thinking is necessary for creating good results!
Intuition - What is it, when is it effective, and how to use it. Rational Analysis - What Actually Happened - A form separating fiction and prejudice from the facts and then creating a more solid cause-effect relationship and leading to a more effective decision where it counts most.