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7 Actionable Steps To Transform Your Life

7 Actionable Steps To Transform Your Life

To change your mind and your world it is going to take action. Since you are reading this, let’s assume you are wanting to change something in your life or perhaps completely transform your life. Let’s get real for a moment. This is not going to happen by accident or by blind luck. No matter what you are wanting to change, whether it’s wanting a new relationship, wanting to get out of a current one, needing more money, wanting more leisure time or whatever else, you have to keep the goal in mind and make sure that you are taking the right actions – and not the wrong ones. It’s not rocket science, but you must develop self-discipline and adopt the right mindset and behaviours.

Follow these 7 actionable steps consistently for a month, and you’ll be off to a very positive start.

The First Step: Be Honest

Being honest might be easier said than done, but if you are hiding from some glaringly obvious truth, hoping it will go away, then you can be sure that when you come out of the corner it will still be there waiting for you. Most of life’s problems and challenges lose power over you when you look at them squarely in the eye and challenge them face on.

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So be courageous with this exercise. For the next 30 days, keep a diary and write down everything that’s on your mind every morning. This isn’t for anyone else to see, it’s simply you taking control of what’s on your mind and reflecting on what is important and what isn’t. When you begin this diary, be as free and as brave as you can, as it is a safe place to face your own reality in life and to begin working out what needs to be done.

The Second Step: Watch Your Habits

As you begin writing your daily diary, you must make sure that you don’t ignore things that could be important. Also, you must be thinking about whether your daily patterns are getting you closer to your goals or further from them. Of course, nobody is perfect so don’t be too hard on yourself, but do remember that every habit you continue and every new one you start could have a massive effect on where your life is going. Remember it doesn’t cost anything to change your mind, and anyone can do it.

The Third Step: Educate Yourself

No matter what you are trying to do to transform your life, there is simply no excuse in today’s world for not giving yourself that chance. If you are feeling like the victim and all you can see are reasons (excuses) not to make a change, then you need more hope that what you want is achievable. This can always be found by reading, whether it’s non-fiction books, articles online or magazines that relate to your goal. What you think about and learn about will have results, so plant those seeds and let them grow.

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The Fourth Step: Don’t Look Back

History is important, and we can all learn from it. If you are interested in what happened in the past then this is good, but also learn not to get stuck on it when you are trying to change. This doesn’t mean you should trust someone who ripped you off last week or go back to a relationship when you can see this person is destroying you. It’s possible to learn from experiences and move on, so you must build this into your mindset as you change your mind and progress into your new life.

The Fifth Step: Don’t Be Afraid To Learn and Grow

This may sound like an unusual suggestion, but it is important to be free from fear of trying new things. If you are feeling too comfortable with your current habits, friends, jobs and relationships, then it’s possible you are blocking your own potential. In reality, everyone does this to some degree and it’s not a problem, but many people do this far too much. If you can join a new club, take up a new hobby or start to listen to someone who you know deep down is talking sense, then you are opening yourself up to new possibilities.

The Sixth Step: Be Creative

This step is not necessarily about creating a great piece of artwork or inventing the next big thing. It is simply about using your mind creatively to help bring about what you want. For the next 30 days, spend five minutes every day (preferably at the same time each day) simply relaxing, shutting your eyes and imagining the life you want. Make the most of this perfect fantasy.

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It costs nothing to use your mind in this way, and the most successful people in the world (no matter what success means to them) began with an idea of how their life should be, and they focussed on it. Don’t underestimate the power of this step.

The Seventh Step: Make A Long-Term Plan

Imagine for a moment that you had the life you wanted, and that everything was perfect. No problems to deal with and everything you could possibly desire is right there. What happens next? That’s right, there’s another day tomorrow, and then another. If you only think about solving a certain problem and you don’t think beyond it, then you could end up feeling even more discontent than when you started.

So imagine you will live to 120 years of age and list everything that you want to achieve during that time. Think outside the box and don’t underestimate yourself. Good luck, and always keep your positive goals in mind.

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Featured photo credit: http://cdn.shopify.com via cdn.shopify.com

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Carles Sabarich

Carles aspires to encourage people to live actively and take charge of their lives.

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Published on May 26, 2020

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

Problems are, by their very nature, problematic. There are life problems, work problems, creative problems, and relationship problems. When we’re lucky, intuition takes over, and we solve a problem right away. When we’re not so lucky, we get stuck.

We might spend weeks or even months obsessing over how to write that term paper, get out of debt, or win back the love of our life. But instead of obsessing, let’s look at some effective problem solving techniques that people in the know rely on.

Ideation Vs Evaluation

It’s important to first understand and separate two stages of creativity before we look at effective problem solving techniques. Ideation is like brainstorming. It’s the stage of creativity where we’re looking for as many possible solutions as we can think of. There’s no judgment or evaluation of ideas at this stage. More is more.

After we’ve come up with as many solutions as possible, only then can we move onto the evaluation stage. This is when we analyze each possible solution and think about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s when all those good ideas from ideation rise to the top and the outlandish and impractical ones are abandoned.

7 Problem Solving Techniques That Work

Everyone has different ways of solving problems. Some are more creative, some are more organized. Some prefer to work on problems alone, others with a group. Check out the problem solving techniques below and find one that works for you.

1. Lean on Your Squad

The first of our seven problem solving techniques is to surround yourself with people you trust. Sometimes problems can be solved alone, but other times, you need some help.

There’s a concept called emergence that begins to explain why groups may be better for certain kinds of problem solving. Steven Johnson describes emergence as bottom up system organization.[1] My favorite example is an ant colony. Ants don’t have a president or boss telling them what to do. Instead, the complicated organization of the ant colony comes out of each individual ant just fulfilling their biological destiny.

Group creativity can also take on an emergent quality. When individuals really listen to, support, and add onto each other’s ideas, the sum of that group creativity can be much more than what any individual could have created on their own.

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Therefore, if you are struggling to solve a problem, you may want to find a group of people with whom you can collaborate, so you can start riffing with them about possible solutions.

2. Regulate Your Emotions

The next of the problem solving techniques is to be honest about how you’re feeling. We can’t solve problems as efficiently when we’re stressed out or upset, so starting with some emotional self-awareness goes a long way in helping us problem solve.

Dr. Daniel Siegel famously tells us to “Name it to tame it.” [2] He’s talking about naming our feelings, which offers us a better chance of regulating ourselves. I have to know that I’m stressed or upset if I want to calm down quickly in order to get back to a more optimal problem-solving state.

After you know how you’re feeling, you can take steps to regulate that feeling. If you’re feeling stressed out or upset, you can take a walk or try breathing exercises. Mindfulness exercises can also help you regain your sense of presence.

3. Listen

One thing that good problem solvers do is listen. They collect all the information they can and process it carefully before even attempting to solve the problem.

It’s tempting to jump right in and start problem solving before the scope of the problem is clear. But that’s a mistake.

Smart problem solvers listen carefully in order to get as many points of view and perspectives as possible. This allows them to gain a better understanding of the problem, which gives them a huge advantage in solving that problem.

4. Don’t Label Ideas as Bad…Yet

The fourth of the seven problem solving techniques is to gather as many possible solutions as you can. There are no bad ideas…yet.

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Think back to the two stages of creativity. When we are in the ideation stage, we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas, input, and possible solutions.

When we evaluate, judge, and criticize during the ideation stage, we inadvertently hamper creativity. One possible outcome of evaluating during ideation is creative suppression.[3]

When someone responds to someone else’s creative input with judgment or criticism, creative suppression can occur if the person who had the idea shuts down because of that judgment or criticism.

Imagine you’re at a meeting brainstorming ways to boost your sales numbers. You suggest hiring a new team member, but your colleague rolls their eyes and says that can’t happen since the numbers are already down.

Now, your colleague may be 100% correct. However, their comment might make you shut down for the rest of the meeting, which means your team won’t be getting any more possible solutions from you.

If your colleague had waited to evaluate the merits of your idea until after the brainstorming session, your team could have come up with more possible solutions to their current problem.

During the ideation stage, more is more. We want as many ideas as possible, so reserve the evaluation until there’s no more ideating left to do.

Another trick for better ideating is to “Yes And” each other’s ideas[4] In improvisation, there’s a principle known as “Yes And.” It means that one improviser should agree with the other’s idea for the scene and then add a new detail onto that reality.

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For example, if someone says, “I can’t hear over your loud music,” the other person needs to go along with that idea and then add onto it. They might say, “Sorry, I’ll turn it down, but I don’t think everyone else here at the club will appreciate it.”

Now the scene is getting interesting. We’re in a club, and the DJ is going to turn the music down. Playing “Yes And” with each other made the scene better by filling in details about who and where the improvisers are.

Yes Anding also works well during ideation sessions. Since we’ve already established that we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas yet, Yes Anding gives us something we can do. We can see the merits of each other’s ideas and try to build on them. This will make all of our possible solutions more fully realized than a simple laundry list.

5. Approach Problems With Playfulness

Approaching problem solving too seriously can exacerbate the problem. Sometimes we get too fixated on finding solutions and lose a sense of playfulness and fun.

It makes sense. When there are deadlines and people counting on us, we can try to force solutions, but stepping back and approaching problems from a more playful perspective can lead to more innovative solutions.

Think about how children approach problem solving. They don’t have the wealth of wisdom that decades on this planet give. Instead, they play around and try out imaginative and sometimes unpractical approaches.

That’s great for problem solving. Instead of limiting ourselves to how things have always been done, a sense of play and playfulness can lead us to truly innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.

6. Let the Unconscious Mind Roam

This may seem counterintuitive, but another technique to try when you become too fixated on a problem is to take a break to let the unconscious mind take over for a bit.

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Our conscious brain can only handle a limited amount of information at a time. Plus, it’s energetically exhausting to use our conscious brain for problem solving. Think about a time when you were studying for a test. It’s draining.[5]

But we’re in luck. There’s another part of our brain that isn’t draining and can integrate tons more information at a time—our unconscious.

This is why you come up with your best ideas in the shower or on your way to work or while you’re jogging. When you give your conscious brain a break, your unconscious has a chance to sift through mounds of information to arrive at solutions.

It’s how I write my articles. With my conscious brain, I think about which article I’m going to write. My problem is how to write it, so once I think carefully about the topic, I take a break. Then, the structure, sources, content, and sometimes phrasing happens in fits and starts while I’m not thinking about the article at all. It happens when I’m lying in bed, showering, and walking in the woods.

The key is to get in the habit of practicing this alternation between conscious and unconscious problem solving and to absolutely not force solutions. Sometimes, you just need to take a little break.

7. Be Candid

The last of the problem solving techniques happens during the evaluation stage. If we’re going to land on the best possible solution to our problems, we have to be able to openly and honestly evaluate ideas.

During the evaluating stage, criticism and feedback need to be delivered honestly and respectfully. If an idea doesn’t work, that needs to be made clear. The goal is that everyone should care about and challenge each other. This creates an environment where people take risks and collaborate because they trust that everyone has their best interest in mind and isn’t going to pull any punches.

Final Thoughts

In order to come up with the best solutions for problems, ideation and evaluation have to be two distinct steps in the creative process. Then, you should tap into some of the above techniques to get your ideas organized and your problems solved.

Hopefully, these seven problem solving techniques will help your problems be less…problematic.

More Tips for Problem Solving

Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Johnson: Emergence
[2] Dr. Dan Siegel: The whole-brain child
[3] American Psychological Association: Creative mortification
[4] Play Your Way Sane: And What?: Yes And
[5] Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow

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