A Practical Guide to Problem Solving

 

Say what you will about demographic age brackets and their respective work conditions and ethics, but one thing is for sure and it’s this: knowing how to solve problems is an important skill and it’s often challenging if it doesn’t come naturally. Not knowing how to solve problems can cause stress and uncomfortable interactions that are easily avoidable. Different forms of media have become resources for people to use to find the solutions they’re looking for. Here we’ll discuss how such scenarios are avoided and solutions, found.

Let’s draw a hypothetical. You’re given a task to do. The task is explained to you and you feel confident about it. Mid-way through working on said task you seem to hit an unexpected, unforeseeable roadblock. You don’t have the piece you need or something is occurring that isn’t supposed to. You’ve exhausted every possible reason why in your mind. Still nothing. What do you do?

In many cases, it’s best to attempt solving the problem by yourself first; doing so includes exhausting all possible options, brainstorming, and them executing them. If you can’t figure it out, don’t beat yourself up. You came. You tried. The next course of action is to try YouTube-ing or Googling the problem. You can do this by typing in just about anything, regardless of how specific or minute your query is, you’re likely not the first person to ask this question or be challenged by whatever the issue is. Watch a video or a few. Revise what you’re searching for. It may take a few tries and may require increased patience. If this research is helpful and brings clarity to what you’re trying to figure out, fantastic. But… what if you’re still stuck? Research the instruction manual or ‘help’ software of the product you’re working with. These resources are created to preemptively provide answers to questions you may have. Another option is going to a forum. In the case that you are the first person to run into whatever problem in front of you is, post about it online! Ask! Sometimes products or merchants will have community forums or discussion boards. Other times, social media has been a home to such activity wherein people will post questions they have as their ‘status’ or ‘story.’ By all means, try it out. Depending on the context, platforms like Instagram provide solutions aiming to help people; however, their search engine doesn’t work in such a way to reroute you to your solution by providing a variety of links to what you may be looking for. 

If after you’ve approached the matter from every possible angle, ask someone around you. Call a friend or try a co-worker to see if they’ve experienced something similar or  can offer another perspective. If the issue remains unresolved, then go to whomever asked you to complete the task originally. Perhaps this process sounds inefficient and redundant, and you’re asking, ‘is there not an easy way out?’ Perhaps this sounds so boring, so mundane. The reality, though, is that taking the time to solve your own problems speaks to a few key strengths that are beneficial for one to have. Doing such a solution-seeking process once makes it feel more routine, natural, and quick come the second, third, and fourth time around. By researching in such a way, you gain understanding and intuition for resources to look to and how to look for them. Furthermore, this process speaks to the stewardship of time. We are given time to do the things we’re called to do and to do them well. Thus, it’s important we manage this time well. Stewarding time doesn’t always look like doing things as quick as possible. Doing things as quick as possible can actually neglect other opportunities waiting for us, neglect lessons for us to learn within the process, or when we opt to just go to someone else because we don’t feel like doing the work ourselves, we end up taking advantage of their time, too. Sometimes stewarding time looks like investing in it by spending it in a way that will allow us to  better manage it in the future. 

There’s another end of this spectrum to remain aware of in the process of problem solving that is, in contrast to solving problems yourself, there’s a point where it’s important to allow yourself to be helped—you must know when that time is and walk in humility to welcome it. We live in a society that encourages self-sufficiency; however, when walking with Christ, we know that we have not been created to do all things out of our own strength. We must rely first on God and in humility, be able to discern both the condition of our hearts and the speed with which we rely on those around us. Therefore, solving problems is less a matter of the problem itself and more so, a matter of how we approach the problem.