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Problem Solving Techniques

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

No matter how much momentum you have, no matter how far you are propelling yourself into your perfect future, we all get stuck. We have problems that arise but lack clarity on how to deal with them.

I want to give you two tools that can achieve the same result - but are completely different - that can be useful in getting unstuck with a problem.

This first tool is called Plate of Food.

It can be very appealing to people who tend to be more kinesthetic in nature, people who like tangibles and tend toward creativity.

It can also be a great one to use if you don’t like those things! It can stretch you outside of your comfort zone.

Take a piece of paper, draw a circle/plate and then write ever option you can think of onto the plate. Next, take a bite of each one. Really pretend to bite into and chew it. Which options are you willing to swallow? Start reducing the options in this way until certain ones seem most appealing and palatable.

Put all of your options on a plate

Take a bite and chew each of them

Which options are you willing to swallow?

Example: I want to quit my job!

One way to look at it – yes or no. Yes, I quit my job or no, I don’t quit my job. That’s two ends of the spectrum. But realistically there are many perspectives and options in between.

Put them on your plate.

Maybe some are – I work on my resume, I quit my job, I talk to my boss, I talk to my sister. Ignore it. Complain.

Whatever it may be. You put down the various options that you see. You look at them, read them out loud and think of yourself taking a bite and chewing it. That will help you decide which options am I really willing to swallow and consider.

You’ll be able to narrow it down through the process of deductive reasoning and you’ll choose a couple options that you’ll realistically be able to take action on.

The next is the Cartesian Questions.

This one can be very appealing to people if you believe you have an either/or problem. If you have an analytic mind and like making lists, you might find this exercise most useful.

Same example: – I want to quit my job!

At the top of the chart you put:

If I do quit my job AND If I don’t quit my job

Then ask yourself the 4 questions:

What would happen if you did?

What would happen if you didn’t?

What wouldn’t happen if you did?

What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t?

It’s taking us from a positive-positive to a double negative. Sometimes re-framing the same question creates the appearance of options instead of a black and white issue – do it or don’t do it.

It can adjust your thinking just a little bit so you can come up with ideas that you would have never thought of if you were going through pros and cons alone.

There are many tools available but these are two options. If you get to a place where you are stuck and trying to work your way through a problem give them a try!


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