Authors, poets, and lyricists keep reminding us of something important: Life can get complicated. From family feuds to health issues, we’re bombarded with all sorts of concerns. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid approach to solving problems along the way.
You can’t anticipate every zig or zag, of course. But you can foster some habits and responses that will allow you to feel more balanced, focused, and confident—even when things go awry.
Discover your approach to solving problems. If your response to unforeseen challenges is to freeze, then you might try to think of a plan of action for the next time you encounter a change in plans.
Here are the five most effective approaches to solving problems in life.
1. Rearrange Your “Eggs” Into Several Baskets
Diversification isn’t just good for your financial portfolio. It’s also smart when it comes to setting yourself up with healthier coping mechanisms. In other words, have a number of aspects of your life that bring you contentment and joy.
These could be anything from a hobby like tinkering on a woodworking project in your basement to going on two fun vacations a year. Being able to find comfort in a variety of activities or relationships keeps you from being totally devastated when something happens in one area.
For example, if you lose your job, you will undoubtedly feel numb, angry, frustrated, sad, and a host of other emotions. Nevertheless, if you haven’t made your work the sole center of your existence, you can find a respite from negative feelings by redirecting your energies toward other parts of your world.
2. Learn to Acknowledge, Name, and Analyze Reactions
Do you tend to push away strong reactions or, on the other hand, let those reactions rule your words and actions? It’s important to remember that experiencing emotions is normal. You can learn to accept them without allowing them to guide you, though.
This can be a difficult concept to accept, of course. Marcia Reynolds Psy.D., writing for Psychology Today, notes that she helps people reimagine their connections with their emotions by seeing them as “mind events” rather than catastrophic ones. In other words, they’re manageable as long as you’re willing to learn how to tame their effect.
For instance, you may find it best to jot down your feelings in a journal. This enables you to delve deeper into emotions and dissect them into their tiniest parts. Over time, you may see patterns emerging which give you more insight into who you are and fuel your desire to master your responses rather than allow them to master you.
3. Wait Before Making Major Decisions
Are you someone who has an impulsive mindset? You’re like nearly 17% of adults in the United States who self-reported as being given to impulsivity. Though some types of impulsive decisions can be fun, such as going out for a happy hour at the last minute with new colleagues, other impulsive choices can be mistakes.
What is the approach to solving problems of an impulsive nature? Force yourself to wait.
That is, rather than doing something right away, give yourself some necessary time. Instead of putting in a bid for a house that’s just out of your price range, step back so you can re-evaluate why you want the house in the first place. Rather than quitting your job abruptly because you had a big blowup with your boss, cool your heels for a few days.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t end up doing what you originally intended. Sometimes, your first instincts will prove correct. More often than not, however, you’ll be glad you didn’t allow your gut to lead you into a regret-filled reaction.
4. Break Big Dilemmas Into Digestible Parts
There’s a saying that goes something like this: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It’s an excellent reminder that a solid approach to solving problems is to break bigger obstacles into smaller parts.
Take a financial crisis. Even if you’ve been a terrific money manager, you can find yourself encountering significant cash woes due to anything from a divorce to a health scare. What’s your first response likely to be? Probably to allow your brain to think of worst-case scenarios.
Before you assume that you’ll end up homeless or forced to move back in with your parents, take a deep breath. Then, extract the nuggets of truth from your circumstances.
Is your savings completely wiped out or do you have some money to tide you over? What behaviors could you change to steward your existing cash? Would a second or third job be a possibility?
Peeling apart the big problem often makes it seem less gigantic and gives you insights into how to overcome it.
5. Taking a Learning Approach to Solving Problems Like Stumbles
Unfortunately, failing is part of being a human being. Just ask massive “failures” like Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey.
Wait—you didn’t know they were failures many times before they were successes? It’s true. They just didn’t allow their failures to get in their way.
Can it be tempting to give in to feelings of failure? Of course. It’s very difficult to pick yourself back up after something in your life has gone unbelievably wrong. But a good approach to solving problems that arise from failures is to reframe the failures as learning lessons.
The next time you fail big-time—or on a smaller scale—write down what you learned. Think about your failure.
Why did it happen? Is it part of a pattern of issues that keep arising throughout the years? How could you avoid something similar again?
For example, maybe you keep getting into debt like millions of other Americans whose individual debt loads clock in at around $90,000. Use your recurring debt as the springboard to come up with a fiscally healthier approach to solving problems. Basically, teach yourself an approach to solving problems that do not involve spending all your money.
Do you have a go-to approach to solving problems or perhaps a few of them? If not, start building a personal care toolkit that includes problem-handling skills that will help you move more easily through life’s more challenging phases and experiences. These five most effective approaches to solving problems in life will definitely help you with what you want to achieve.
Featured photo credit: Roman Melnychuk via unsplash.com
|||^||Psychology Today: How to Manage Your Emotional Reactions|
|||^||US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Impulsivity in the general population: A national study|
|||^||CNBC: The average American has $90,460 in debt—here’s how much debt Americans have at every age|