If you’re facing a problem that you’re having a hard time deciding how to handle properly, consider some of my favorite problem solving skills. I learned these skills during a community leadership service I was able to participate in at college. I got to act as a college student promoting leadership skills in the community, and was taught valuable skills along the way, one of which was critical problem solving skills. At the time, I never realized how much I’d use them, or need them in life. Boy, was I wrong! Next time you have a situation that you don’t know how to handle, consider these 7 problem solving skills that will help you make the best decision for you. They’re simple, and easy to learn and implement, and can keep you from making a decision out of impulse, fear or panic.
1. Don’t Jump at the Gun
The first thing you should know when learning these problem solving skills is never to jump at the gun and just make any old decision. You need to think things through. Making a decision just because you don’t know what to do and are running off impulse will get you into big trouble, trust me! Instead, sleep on it, maybe one night or better yet a week. If you’re pressed for time to make a decision, spend at least one day thinking things through, and in the meantime, think about the following ideas.
2. The Five Year Plan
For big decisions, instead of thinking how something will affect you right now, consider the effects five years from now. How will the decision you’re making affect you five years down the road, most likely? If it won’t affect you at all in a negative way, it might be the right way to go. However, if it would be detrimental or even beneficial, then you’ll have a better idea of how to make your decision. Though we can’t be sure on anything in the future, you can easily see how quitting your job without a new one might not be the best thing to do. Or, perhaps if you’re moving across country, you’ll need to consider five years from now, how things with your family, job, and happiness might be affected. Give everything consideration not just for the now, but for the future.
3. Talk to Someone
Seriously, grab your best friend or someone who won’t be affected by any benefit or harm of your decision, and talk to them. Someone with neutral ground is best, since they’ll be less likely to give you a swayed decision. Talk to your parents if you can trust they’ll give you a non-biased answer or even a teacher, professor, boss or an acquaintance you trust. Input from anyone who can provide some knowledge about the decision is a great way to gain perspective from a different angle. Just be sure whoever you talk to doesn’t make the decision for you. You have to make the best decision for you, and talking to someone about it isn’t so they can tell you what to do, but give you some things to think about. After you talk to someone, sleep on things again.
4. Get in Touch with Your Gut
I’m serious here! After you do all of the above, truly think about which parts of the decisions make you feel secure and which ones don’t. Even if one decision may sound scary, it doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do. If you feel a little nervous, but still good in your gut about things, it’s probably a good decision. Or, if the decision sounds great, but something tells you it isn’t right in your gut, stay far, far away. My mom always told me your gut ( not your heart or your head), would never lead you wrong, and she’s right. Intuition is a beautiful thing, even when it’s hard to follow!
5. Pretend You Made Your Decision
Next, pretend you already made your decision. How are things different now most likely? Put yourself in the pretend situation as if you made your decision and see how you feel? Good? Bad? Now you know which way you may need to or need not to, go in.
6. Make It
Now make your decision. Full force, with confidence. No cold feet, now! Make it with a confident heart and don’t look back. Making a decision requires action, not just agreeing one way or the other.
7. Proceed Ahead
When approaching a big problem, and making a decision to solve that problem, looking back and second guessing yourself can create a nightmare. It will cause you to act in fear, and not proceed with your decision with confidence, which might flaw the results. Remember, no going back. Proceed ahead with confidence and do what it takes to make it work. You’re the key to your success, not what may or may not have happened with another decision.