Problems are a sign of life. When we have problems, it indicates we are experiencing new or unfamiliar things in life. Problems may also be an invitation for us to address certain things.
While experiencing problems, it can be uncomfortable, stressful and emotionally draining, which is why we prefer not to have too many problems. We all deal with problems differently and sometimes the way we try to solve them may create new problems.
The ability to assess and solve problems is a critical skill we must develop in order to adequately cope with the new demands put on us, and to continuously move toward the things that are important to us.
A number of years ago, when I left my corporate career, I had to return the company car I was given, which left me without a car. At that time, I chose not to buy a car so that created a number of issues because I had been so used to having the convenience of a car for so many years. Initially, I found the change very hard. Things that used to take less than 30 minutes were now taking a couple of hours because I had to rely on public transport to get around.
Not having a car severely restricted my flexibility especially on weekends, and I found myself getting increasing frustrated because I felt I was wasting a lot of time. I knew I had to change how I managed my priorities.
I listed all the things I felt were affected by not having a car and for each thing listed, I asked myself, “Is it really true that not having a car is affecting my ability to do this well?” What I found was for over 80% of the things I had listed, I had totally made up a story as to why I wasn’t doing them well or doing them at all.
For the remaining 20%, all I had to do was to make some simple adjustments to my weekly schedule, which included changing my work flow, since I worked from home most of the time. The changes I made were so effective that I went three years without owning a car, which was a lot longer than I had originally planned. It proved that the problem I had been facing could easily be solved by changing the way I looked at it.
Being able to view problems from different perspectives is what will speed up the problem solving process. In order to do so, we must be able to view problems differently. The starting point is asking ourselves different questions about our problems.
Here are 10 questions that will help change how we think about our problems and ultimately help solve them a lot easier and faster.
- How have I contributed to this current problem?
- Is it really true that this is a problem for me right now?
- What am I being challenged to address with this problem?
- How long has this been a problem for me and what have I done about it so far?
- Who can I ask for help to solve this problem?
- What’s actually good about this problem?
- How will this problem make me a better person once I have solved it?
- What will I do differently next time I am in a similar situation?
- What am I thankful and grateful for right now even though I have this problem?
- Who else will benefit from having this problem solved?
Here is a bonus question you can ask if you’re experiencing a conflict with someone and they’re behaving in a way that is out of character for them.
- What could this person be going through that is causing them to behave the way they currently are?
Problems are a great opportunity for us to reflect on what we are doing, what’s not working and how we can make things better. Once we start viewing problems as opportunities for learning and growth, rather than trying to avoid problems, we should welcome them just like we’d welcome positive experiences.
Question: What is another question that can help us change the way we solve our problems?
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