Problem solving is a necessary life skill. But the first step of problem solving can often be the most difficult: identifying the problem. Here's 5 tips that will help you be a problem finder:
- Define "problem" in your own words
While we know the traditional definition of a problem, a problem as you face is a barrier that is hindering you from completing a goal. To begin to define your problem, specify the goal you wish to reach, for example "I want to buy a car". Then, determine the "but", for example "but I don't have enough money". Therefore we have defined our problem as: "I want to buy a car, but I don't have enough money".
- Find the cause of the problem
Finding the cause of the problem is important in truly identifying the problem. Going back to the car example, why don't you have enough money to buy a car? Maybe you don't have a job, maybe you don't make enough money, or maybe you spend your money rather than saving it.
- Is your problem solvable?
There are many factors in life that are out of your control or that can't be changed. For example, at a certain age you are legally obligated to go to school, preventing you from working enough hours and therefore limiting you from saving money to buy a car. Additionally, you can't control others' actions.
- Is your problem worth solving?
Before you begin solving your problem, decide whether it is worth solving in the first place. Do you really need a car? Why do you need a car? Here are a few more questions to ask yourself: Does my problem need an immediate solution or can it wait? Should solving this problem be a priority over other things (for example, should you save your money for something else rather than buying a car)?
- Identify how to prepare to solve the problem
Part of recognizing a problem is establishing whether or not you have the tools to solve it. Do you have enough time to spend solving the problem? Are you equipped, emotionally, physically, and/or financially to solve the problem on your own?
Once you have mastered the steps to problem finding, the solution to your problems will become clearer. It is also important to record your journey and milestones.