Problem Solving

A formal definition of problem solving is the process by which a troubling issue is researched, analyzed, and ultimately resolved. Obstacles always exist which can make certain problems much more challenging and daunting to solve.

As life coaches , we frequently work with clients to solve various problems. To reiterate, a life coach doesn’t solve the problems but can lead the client through the process so they may solve it or them on their own. Often, a neutral, impartial party can offer a unique perspective that makes the process easier.

The best strategy for problem solving depends on each individual situation. In some cases, a more viable option is to gather as much knowledge as possible about the issue and use that knowledge to arrive at a logical solution. In other instances, creativity, logic, insight, and perception are the best options.

The Steps in Problem Solving

The most effective way to solve a problem is to follow a series of steps that researchers call the “problem-solving cycle”, which includes the organization of fact and the development of strategies. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, a person would never follow the series of steps this rigidly, but rather, do the steps out of sequence or repeat some or all of them as many times as is necessary until the desired solution is reached.

  • Identifying the Problem: While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. If the perceived source of a problem is incorrect, attempts to solve it will be futile.

  • Defining the Problem: It is important to identify it as specifically as possible.

  • Forming a Strategy: The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences.

  • Organizing Information: Before coming up with a solution, we need to first organize the available information. What do we know about the problem? What do we not know? The more information that is available, the better prepared we will be to come up with an accurate solution.

  • Allocating Resources: Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is. If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it, e.g., if the problem as to do with the welfare of your marriage, it would be wise to invest in a marriage counselor. Additionally, for this example, more than adequate time needs to be allocated, given the magnitude of the set of problems.

  • Monitoring Progress: Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies.

  • Evaluating the Results: After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. If not, re-analyze and monitor.

If multiple problems come along simultaneously, as they often do in this life, do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, meditate briefly, prioritize your issues, address one at a time, and proceed! You will feel such tremendous gratification about the fact that you handled the issue(s) in such a mature, spiritual, and methodical manner. Problem Solving can be an opportunity to turn an obstacle into an opportunity!