Successful problem solving is not a chance or random occurrence. It’s an essential skill which you can master through practice. Just like any other skill, there are specific techniques designed to help you become more adept.

Your mind doesn’t work randomly. It follows whatever instructions you provide. If you tell your mind something is possible, then it will strive to succeed. Conversely, telling your mind something is impossible causes it to give up. Whether you program your mind to succeed, or direct it to fail, is your choice. Let’s look at some strategies which will program your mind to solve problems.

Start programming your mind with the belief that you can and will find the solution you need. Without this step, the chances of finding a solution is diminished. In essence, if you don’t believe you will find a solution, you won’t.

Next, accurately identify the problem you are facing. Skipping this step leaves you guessing about a solution. Expending your energy randomly in an attempt to fix a problem is frustrating. You need a laser like focus to find the best solution.

Once you have identified a problem you are ready to determine its cause. Addressing the root cause is essential for solving the problem. Suppose you have a financial problem where you never seem to have enough money.

Is your problem a lack of income, or is it due to overspending? This question must be answered before you can determine the best solution. Fixing a lack of income requires a different strategy than correcting overspending. People with a spending problem continue to have a spending problem in spite of an increase in income.

Confusing the difference between a problem and a symptom inhibits your ability to find an effective solution. Problems cause symptoms. Addressing a symptom fails to correct the underlying problem. For example, if water is dripping from your ceiling due to a hole in the roof, putting a bucket under the leak doesn’t fix the roof. You want to correct the problem, not just mitigate a symptom.

Problems are solved with positive action. They cannot be corrected by lamenting what you don’t have. If you need additional resources to solve a problem you have to either acquire them yourself, or connect with someone who has them.

So, if you need additional skills, knowledge, or experience you either get them yourself, or utilize the help of a person who already has them. That’s the reason for hiring a doctor, lawyer, plumber, mechanic, carpenter, electrician or any other skilled individual.

Maintain an open mind. Be open to solutions. Potential solutions will appear at any time from any source. The answers you need may come from what someone else is saying or doing. Something you are observing may spark your creative imagination. The manner in which another person solved a similar problem can provide insight into what you should do.

Brainstorm ideas. List anything which might be a possible solution. Don’t filter ideas. Write down ideas as they occur instead of trying to remember them. The longer your list, the better. The more possible solutions you are considering, the more rapidly you will find the one you need.

If you get tired of thinking about a problem, release it from your conscious mind by switching gears. Taking a break when you are mentally fatigued is an effective problem solving tactic. It provides an opportunity to recharge while your subconscious mind continues working non-stop finding a solution.

This is why it’s so common for a solution popping into your mind while you are engaged in an unrelated activity. Always jot down whatever ideas come to you.

Each problem you solve enhances your problem-solving ability. Successful people become really good at solving problems.

“Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.Bryan or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.

"Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.

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