Problem Solving - Continued

STEP 3 – ESTABLISH YOUR GOALS

Once you have looked at the problem from different perspectives, you can decide what you want to achieve and establish your goals. You need to answer the very specific question – “What is my immediate goal?”

Examples:

  • Improve my time management skills
  • Complete assignments on time
  • Improve my grades

STEP 4 – GENERATE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

During this stage the goal is to generate as many possible solutions as you can. Do not worry about whether or not they are realistic, practical, or effective. Frequently a solution you might eliminate initially, with work can be developed into a very effective solution.

It can be very helpful to ask yourself what you have done in the past when faced with similar problems, and how other people you know have dealt with similar situations. In addition, you can also approach friends, family, a counselor, teachers, books, or the internet, etc. to obtain ideas for solutions. Be sure to write down all the possibilities you generate so that you can approach this task systematically.

STEP 5 – ANALYZE THE SOLUTION

During this stage, you will examine each alternative and write down both the advantages and disadvantages to each. Some considerations to keep in mind include:

  • Is it relevant to my situation?
  • Is it realistic?
  • Is it manageable?
  • What are the consequences – both good and bad?
  • What is the likelihood that it is going to help me reach my goal?

STEP 6 - IMPLEMENTATION

The last step is to implement the solution you have chosen. This step involves identification of all the steps necessary to implement it, and also on-going monitoring of the effectiveness of the solution to make sure that it actually solved the problem. During this stage of the process, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How effective is the solution?
  2. Did it achieve what I wanted?
  3. What consequences (good and bad) did it have in my situation?

If the solution was successful in helping you solve your problem, then you can feel satisfied with your efforts and what you learned. If you feel dissatisfied in some way, you can either modify the solution to work better, or you can scrap it and turn to other alternative solutions, or begin the process again.

Remember that problem-solving is a cycle – it involves searching for a solution to a problem that will lead to various possible solutions which then need to be evaluated. If the problem is solved, then you have found an effective solution. If the problem has not been solved, then you start the process again.

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