The ability to solve problems is a basic life skill that is essential to your day-to-day life. You probably solve problems every day without really thinking about it. If you’re finding however that you’re not getting the best solution or struggling to come up with a solution, here is a five step model to help you be successful in solving your issues. Firstly, begin to think about focussing on the why, what and how of the problem and ask yourself the following five questions:

1. Why should I care about this problem? Describe your problem using specific details. Instead of, “I spend too much money on take away food,” a better statement is, “Last year, I spent an average of $300 each month on take away food.” Think about and write down why this problem is an issue for you – and how it is impacting your life.
2. If I am able to resolve this problem, what does success look like? Write down what you want to achieve or resolve by solving this problem. Focus on the goal, not the solution. For example, “Success looks like – within the next 6 months, I’ll spend 50% less each month on take away.”
3. How can I solve this problem? Now think about solutions to your problem. You might find out as much as you can about it, or search for resources that can help you solve it. Maybe there is someone who can help you. Brainstorm as many solutions as possible. Ask for help from others if you get stuck. Even if they seem a bit unrealistic put them down – don’t discount anything just yet.
4. Picking the best option that will actually solve the problem? Explore the advantages and disadvantages of each issue. Do this with a friend if possible as they may have ideas that you have not thought of. Look at your list of possible solutions and identify which is the best one.
5. What is the first step of my action plan? Make a simple step-by-step plan to solve your problem. Remember that no matter how well you plan, things will change, and your plan might change, too.

Problem solving can be an easy process if you follow these steps, remember to be flexible and be willing to go for an 80% solution as the best solution. It is very rare that you will have a 100% solution that you are 100% happy about so be realistic, objective and willing to compromise for an outcome, so that you can move forward.