Becoming an Effective Problem Solver

Hi Crusaders
How good are you at solving problems?
Will it surprise you to learn that most people aren’t as effective as they believe they are.
They think they’ve seen it all and that nothing can surprise them, and they get used to solving every problem they face in the same way. After all, it’s worked well for them so far.
So, they reject learning new approaches and stick to their old (proven?) ways; not willing to try new approaches.
But one day, the inevitable happens.
A problem they’d never seen or anticipated before appears in front of them.
They try to solve it as they always had. But this time is different…
Their old ways of doing things are just not enough.
Then, because they’re not used to dealing with new things, they get overwhelmed.
They get frustrated.
They’re so fixated on their way of doing things they can’t think of a new solution.
They just don’t know how to react to this new challenge and fear starts clouding their judgement.
Usually, they end up failing.
All because they were not willing to try something new.

Maybe you’ve been in a situation like this one before . . . I certainly have.

But it doesn’t have to happen. You can prepare yourself for this.
Here are three ways you can train your brain so it’s prepared to come up with new solutions when needed.
1. Share your problems
Discuss your problems with people you trust and respect. Get their perspective and opinion; especially with problems that you have solved on your own already.
The idea is not to get their specific help solving any one problem. Rather try to understand and appreciate their method for problem-solving.
Your goal is to expose you to different approaches to addressing challenges.
The more you open yourself up to alternate methods of solving problems, the bigger your knowledge base of strategies and techniques becomes. And the more effective you become at problem-solving in general.
2. Change up your routine
Having a structured morning and evening routine is a very healthy habit to develop, but sometimes we take it too far.
Often our entire day becomes a repetitive routine, and we tend to spend the bulk of our time on Autopilot.
And, when you follow a routine for a long time, your brain no longer needs to look for new solutions, and it gets lazy.
So, start trying things you wouldn’t normally do every day. Find small challenges to force your brain to problem-solve. Find new experiences and opportunities to activate your thought processes.

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Create situations that take you out of your comfort zone.
Maybe one day you decide to have lunch at a different place, or just go to the local shopping centre with the sole intention of meeting new people.
Try taking a completely different route to work, without using your phone GPS.
When you try new things (even little things), you give yourself new challenges to solve and force your brain to think.
That creates new neural pathways.
And those new pathways allow you to find new solutions faster.
And when you expose yourself to situations like these every day, it will become second nature to tackle new challenges.
You no longer get paralysed when a new problem comes up. You become excited at the thought of a new challenge, not daunted.
3. Change your environment
Get yourself into the habit of changing physical locations when you get into problem-solving mode.
It can be as simple as going for a walk or hitting the gym;
or as structured as setting up a designated ‘brainstorming’ area/office.
You can do this alone, or with others who you feel are beneficial to the brainstorming process. Walking meetings are becoming very popular these days.
Once you’ve built this into a habit, then every time you move into that environment, you will trigger your mind to gear up for problem-solving.
Well, those are my three tips on improving your problem-solving capabilities. I hope they work as well for you as they have for me.
Take care out there, and have a fantastic week.

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