We all get them. Some of us keep them. None of us really like them. I am talking about problems.

Problems by definition need solving. Too often we lack the skills we need to properly handle problems. Instead, we shuffle our problems from today, otherwise known as urgent or crisis, and move them to tomorrow or someday, where they lurk waiting to reappear.

Here are five steps you can take to move those problems from shuffled to problem solved. Don’t worry about forgetting these five steps, because you already know your ABC’s and this is as easy as ABCDE.

Ask Questions To Better Understand The Problem.

Take some time to get away and ask questions about your problem? If you prefer time alone, find a coffee house or a comfortable couch and write down questions. Now, research the answers. Some answers will be easier than others, but give these questions both the time to develop and the time to answer. If you are a more social person who likes the input of others, ask your friends. Research simply means looking for answers. Look online, ask a mentor, read a book that speaks to your problem. Do a combination of all of the above. The point is you need to ask the right questions to better understand your problem.

 

Brainstorm Ideas to Solve Your Problem.

Get out the whiteboard and get to storming. In true brainstorming fashion, start thinking of all the possible solutions to your problem. If ideation is not your strength, find someone to bounce ideas off of and develop solutions. Sometimes two heads are better than one. No idea is a bad one. Think it, then write it.  You never know what might spark the right solution for you.

 

Choose an Idea.

It isn’t just enough to understand your problem. For example, if you have an outstanding debt, then the problem could be you forgot to mail a payment. Or it could be you don’t make enough money. Once you know the problem and you brainstorm a solution, now you must pick the right solution to apply.

So say you do not make enough money to pay all your outstanding bills. You and a friend brainstormed together and thought of several ways you can get more money. Some of these ideas included win the lotto, rob a bank, change careers and get a signing bonus, ask for a raise, sell something you already own, make/do something to sell.

Now you must decide which of these ideas are viable. Winning the lotto is unlikely. Robbing a bank is illegal. You can immediately rule out these two ideas and move on to others which may work. Changing careers may take longer than you have to pay off the debt. Now the three options left are the ones to choose from. Ask for a raise, sell something you already own or make/do something to sell.

Do It.

You now know how you can solve your problem, but now you must actually do it. Take the best idea from your brainstorm and put it into action. Break down the steps necessary to take action and implement the first item needed to solve the problem.

Say you decided you could sell your fishing boat to pay that medical bill hanging over you. You will miss the boat, but when you pay the bill, you will not miss the anxiety and depression that has come around every time you got a new bill. So you wash the boat. You put a sign on it at the storage facility and you put an ad in the paper. You are doing what you can to move toward a solution.

Evaluate.

The boat sells. You pay the bill. Problem solved, or is it? There is one more thing you should do before you move on. Evaluate what went well. Did the sign you put on the boat get the result you wanted?

Perfect. Next time you need to sell something, you can use that same tactic.

But maybe it hasn’t gone the way you expected. Were there bumps along the way? Did the ad you placed in the paper get any calls? No? Then what could you do get more interest in your boat? Asking your fishing buddies in your Facebook Fishing Group if they are in the market for a new boat may drum up more interest.

Sometimes we need to step back and then attack the problem from a slightly different angle. Sometimes you must repeat the ABCD’s and try again. If you determine making fishing lures and selling those will get you the money you need then do that instead. The point is you have the freedom to try multiple things.

These five steps take the scary out of problem-solving and teaches us we have the ability to find solutions that get real results.