Problems. How do you find solutions?

by | Nov 14, 2018

You’ve got problems. Everyone does. You can’t go through life without them. What matters is how you deal with them.

Last week we talked about tuning into your emotions so you can recognize problems early and hopefully get a head start at solving them, thus truncating their existence. We talked about the importance of being as objective as possible about your problems, and not always thinking of them as bad. Once you’ve decided on realistic goals for finding a solution, you can begin to brainstorm.

Problems. How Do You Find Solutions? Nancy'S Counseling Corner

Think of new approaches. Face it. The old approaches didn’t work or you wouldn’t still have the problem. So notice, the plural—approaches. Think up lots of possible solutions. Think of a variety of types of solutions. Restrain yourself from editing ideas before they’re formulated. Come up with practical ideas. Come up with outlandish, unthinkable ideas. If your problem is that you can’t seem to grow the kinds of plants you want in your garden, there are lots of options. One outlandish solution might be to move to another place where you can grow what you want. It seems drastic, but if you are deeply unhappy living without your lilacs, then maybe you might want to consider moving. At least it’s an option. The more ideas you have, the more likely one of them will work.

Understand the best solution might not be perfect. As you weigh the pros and cons of your ideas, think of what solution will help you attain your goals. That seems obvious, but sometimes, in the wake of many ideas, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Think about how much work it will take to realize a specific solution. It’s a lot easier to bring dirt in which your plants will thrive to your existing garden than to move to another location. Is the effort you’ll have to put in worth the result? Imagine the future you after you’ve implemented a solution. How will the future you feel? Anxious or content? Guilty or happy? Bad or good? And with each proposed solution, you should make a cost/benefit analysis. How will a solution affect you and others in your life? Think short- and long-term. The solution that gives you the most benefits for the least cost is what you want, even if it isn’t a perfect solution. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

Make an action plan and stick to it. Say you decide you’re going to create a garden where you live that will support your desire for certain plants. You’ll have to research how much sun you’ll need, how much acidity in your soil, and all the conditions that are optimal for a successful garden. Then list all the tasks you’ll need to do, taking care to schedule for the seasons. When you have a plan, then follow through with the actions that make your plan a reality. And finally, when you’ve completed your work, check to see if the problem is actually solved. Does your garden, in fact, grow what you’d like how you’d like it? Do you need to make adjustments? Were you realistic in your expectations? Do you need to rethink the problem? Do you need to find more solutions?

Once you have done the work to solve your problem and achieve your goal, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Even if everything didn’t turn out perfectly, you addressed the issue, took on a challenge, and made something positive happen. Good for you.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:



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