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The Link Between Problem Solving and Effective Decision Making

2013 February 4

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

problem solvingHave 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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11 Responses
  1. June 16, 2013

    This is excellent! Thumbs up for the author of this blog. It is very helpful and informative. I learned many things on how to develop my skills in decision making. This blog helped me to be confidence in making decisions. The writer really knows everything about his topic. Thanks for posting this! :)

  2. February 15, 2013

    You are so right, Marty, these ideas keep us from making decisions, well effective ones anyway, and that in turn leads to our staying stuck in the worlds we have created for ourselves.

    All the points are right on, and I guess this one spoke to me a little more than the other: “Beating Yourself up for Making ‘Wrong’ Choices”. If I do something that turns out to not be so good for me, I don’t need to make that particular choice again, but I don’t need to bring it back from my past everyday to pummel myself with either.

    Altogether, another excellent post, thank you for sharing this with us.
    Michael Shook recently posted..Positive Thinking Made SimpleMy Profile

  3. February 13, 2013

    This is quite a mind boggling post. But thank you for breaking the codes into tiny bits and pieces for my brain to absorb. Good job, keep it up.

  4. February 13, 2013

    Very good article, thanks Marquita.

    This is what help me to solve my problems:
    - I have peace on my mind
    - My vision is always clear and focused.
    - I have abundant energy, vitality and well-being.
    - I allow my work to be simple and clear.
    - I forgive myself and others.
    Jose Palomino recently posted..How to Socialize and MonetizeMy Profile

  5. February 13, 2013

    Another factor that can affect or contribute to poor decisions is emotion. Too much or too little can never be a good idea.

  6. February 11, 2013

    These are e excellent points for proper problem-solving and effective decision-making. I mean, you just have to be yourself and not wait for people to make decisions for you so you can solve your problems, right? I usually write down my options, that’s the only way I could effectively weigh choices.

  7. February 8, 2013

    Hi Marquita,

    Good problem solving skills are fundamentally important to be successful . I must confess that I am a poor decision maker as I delay decision making and wait for the validation of people. This incurred loss many a times in life and I am in the process of overcoming it and taking firm decisions at the earliest .

  8. February 8, 2013

    Hi Marquita:

    I have definitely been guilty of the first one: Waiting for Certainty. This plagued my decision making for many years. I am now learning to make the best decision with the information that I have.

    Kevin Martineau recently posted..3 signs you may be an approval addictMy Profile

  9. February 6, 2013

    We all have different aptitudes and personality traits. E.g. some of us are more “externally referenced” (need confirmation/feedback) when making a decision, some of us are more internally referenced (get approval from within). Some of us are naturally more confident than others in our ability to make decisions. However, we can all become better decision makers by my making our thinking visible and assessing the logic of it. Once we lay out the logic of our decision (e.g. how does one alternative satisfy a particular objective vs. another one) we can share this information and assess the benefits and risks. This not only improves the quality of decisions, over time it also builds confidence.

  10. February 4, 2013

    I’ve had all of those things effect me in the past, and I admit still at times. But i’ve improved alot. The quicker I can stop being down on myself about it and keep moving forward the faster I go towards improving it!

    Ben recently posted..But nobody encourages me!My Profile

  11. February 4, 2013

    Another Great Post Girl! Effective decision making! Well this is one I have had a problem with that’s for sure.. Making Knee-Jerk Decisions As you say WOW! When I first got started online I was told that taking action was the thing to do.. Well I guess I didn’t realize I still should think things through first.. HUM! I still tend to do this BUT I am getting better :) I Love visiting your blog Marty I always leave with a SMILE :) Thanks for sharing Chery
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..My Automated Money Machine Turns Into My Millionaire Marketing MachineMy Profile

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