Are you facing a problem and feel stuck? Is there a problem you just can’t seem to figure out and it’s becoming overwhelming? Try applying the steps of effective problem-solving and get unstuck.
Step #1: Define your problem
When defining your problem, make it specific and concrete. Being too vague or general will only serve to compound your feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. For example, instead of simply stating “I’m lonely,” define your problem more clearly such as, “I do not know anyone in my new city.”
Step #2: Set goals
As with defining your problem, you want to be specific and concrete when setting your goals. For example, instead of stating “Meet new people,” define your goals more specifically such as, “Join a social group and meet two new people I feel comfortable doing activities with.”
Step #3: Brainstorm
Get out a pen and paper and write down as many possible solutions to your problem that you can think of. Be daring and even include those ideas that you think are extreme or unlikely. The goal is to open your mind, freely explore a variety of alternatives, and be limitless. You may even ask others, such friends, loved ones, or a therapist, for their opinions or ideas about possible solutions to your problem.
Step#4: Evaluate all possible solutions
Review your brainstorming list and carefully consider each possible solution listed. Creating a list of pros and cons for each possible solution can be quite helpful in organizing your thoughts. Feeling stuck at this stage, or want to take it a step further? If so, work with a therapist to explore the negative thoughts or feelings that may be getting in the way of your progress.
Step #5: Pick a solution
Select the solution from your list that you think has the most advantages relative to disadvantages. This may be challenging because it's easy to get caught up in focusing on the downsides. Try to stay focused on the advantages.
Step#6: Plan the steps needed in order to apply your solution
If the solution that you chose in step 5 has multiple steps, write these down. And, remember, be specific and concrete. When you are ready to put your solution plan into action, you will attempt each step one at a time. If you attempt too many steps at once, you are likely to get overwhelmed.
Before actively taking the steps in your plan, it can be helpful to first practice the steps in your mind. Use your imagination and walk yourself, mentally, through each step in your plan. When practicing, make sure you are in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. You may wish to sit comfortably with you spine in an upright position, and either gaze at the floor or close your eyes to more fully experience the plan in your imagination.
Step#8: Implement your solution
Once you have mentally practiced your plan and feel ready to actively implement it, complete each of the steps in your plan, one at a time. Again, you may wish to consult with a close friend, loved one, or therapist you can trust as you embark on your journey through the steps.
Step#9: Evaluate the outcome
Was your goal achieved? If not, what got in the way? If roadblocks were encountered, explore possible solutions to them by applying the same 9 steps outlined above. If you find that no solution will work for the specified problem, you may want to consider alternative goals.
Holland Miller, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, provides individual and group therapy for adolescents and adults in Austin, TX. Specializing in the treatment of depression, chronic low mood, and chronic stress, she incorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLCs) to enhance positive mood, healthy functioning, and overall well-being.
Dr. Miller is particularly passionate about working with adolescent girls and adult women who want to boost their mood and energy, improve their self-esteem and relationships with others, better cope with stress while reducing anxiety and tension, and develop healthy lifestyle habits for lasting wellness.
When she is not in the office, Dr. Miller enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and two mischievous goldendoodles. She can be found discovering the latest Austin adventure, reading and researching, exploring the outdoors on hiking and camping trips, and trying out new recipes.
Social Support- Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) Step 5 of 6
November 2, 2015
An Intriguing Look at Depression
October 16, 2015
Sleep - Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) Step 6 of 6