The Link Between Problem Solving and Effective Decision Making
Again and again, the “impossible” problem is solved once we see that the real problem is a tough decision waiting to be made.” Dr. Robert Schuller
Have you ever considered your problem solving style? Do you carefully analyze each problem, or do you pride yourself on fast action and doing whatever it takes to make the problem go away?
People who lack trust in their own abilities tend to procrastinate in order to avoid dealing with problems, constantly doubting their instincts, skills, talents and opinions. Unfortunately, left unresolved eventually even the smallest unattended problem can escalate into a real crisis.
Problem solving almost always comes down to effective decision-making.
People who learn to handle difficult problems by facing them head-on gain confidence and invaluable skills from every adverse situation. They learn how to handle problems more effectively, and are less likely to feel overwhelmed by unexpected changes in life.
Of course some decisions will involve one or more unknowns. For some, having too many options can quickly create a sense of over overwhelm, which tends to make them freeze. Even when faced with a problem they know they have to deal with, they worry that the alternatives may be worse.
The good news is effective decision-making can be learned, and mastered over time.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most common decision making traps to avoid and how you can overcome them.
Waiting for Certainty
Some people, those with perfectionist tendencies in particular, have difficulty taking action until they have reached a point of certainty about the outcome. If unable to achieve this feeling of certainty, their minds go round and round in circles over analyzing the problem until they end up procrastinating or simply not taking action.
There are few things in life that come with a guarantee, and unless the problem you’re facing is one that is likely to solve itself, keep in mind that not taking action is also a form of decision making.
Making Knee-Jerk Decisions
Although such decisions are often quickly recognized as a mistake, it’s usually after the damage is done. This type of decision making is frequently associated with money and the need to just do what ever it takes to make the stress go away. Keeping priorities in focus and taking the time to think through the consequences will help you to avoid decisions you’ll regret later.
Waiting for Validation by other People
One of the biggest obstacles to personal growth and becoming an effective problem solver is the constant need for approval by others. This is often a self-esteem issue. The approval you really need to find is within yourself. The more decisions you make, the stronger and more confident you will become and the less you will need validation from others.
Failure to Learn from the Past
Some people seem to suffer the same problems over and over. Instead of taking responsibility for the decisions they’ve made and learning from past experiences, they blame bad karma, fate, lack of support from family and friends, or any number of other reasons for their problems. Again, this is often a self-esteem issue and the only way to effectively move forward is to accept one’s role in the process, identify what hasn’t worked in the past and why, and commit to making better choices in the future.
Beating Yourself up for Making ‘Wrong’ Choices
There are no guarantees that every decision you make will always have the perfect outcome or will always lead you to happiness. Beating yourself up over making a wrong decision will only end up causing you to second guess future decisions and undermine your self-confidence.
No one is perfect. If you knew you were about to make a wrong decision, would you go ahead with it? Of course not, but that should never prevent you from having the confidence to make future decisions.
Problem solving is like building muscles; the more you do it, the stronger and more confident you will become.
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