How you deal with challenges will often determine your success and happiness. If you’re stuck on how to solve a problem, try defining it and breaking it into smaller pieces. Choose whether to approach the problem logically or whether you should think about how the outcome might make you feel. Find ways to creatively approach your problems by working with other people and approaching the problem from a different perspective.

Define the problem. Find the real problem, not just the symptoms that result from the problem. When defining the problem, do not consider things that are extraneous matters, only what the actual problem is. You can consider the other issues later. Become familiar with the problem and understand it fully. 

  • For example, if your room is constantly messy, the problem might not be that you’re a messy person. It might be that you lack containers or places to put your items in an organized way.
  • Try to be as clear and thorough as possible when defining the problem. If it is a personal issue, be honest with yourself as to the causes of the problem. If it is a logistics problem, determine exactly where and when the problem occurs.
  • Determine whether the problem is real or self-created. Do you need to solve this problem or is this about something you want? Putting things in perspective can help you navigate the problem-solving process. Make important decisions first. Recognize the decisions you need to make and how they will contribute to solving your problem. Making decisions can help you move forward in solving your problems,so start by deciding on what to focus on, what needs to get done, and how you will go about doing it. 
  • For example, you might have several problems to solve and need to decide which ones to tackle first. Solving one problem may ease tension or take stress off of another problem.
  • Once you make a decision, don’t doubt yourself. Be willing to look forward from that point on without wondering what would have happened had you chosen something else. Simplify the problem. An overly-complicated problem can feel overwhelming and be difficult to solve. If there are multiple problems, break them down into smaller parts and deal with them individually. If you can break the problem down into the smallest terms,this will help you in understanding it and finding a solution. 
  • For example, if you need to turn in many assignments to pass a class, focus on how many you have to do and approach them one by one.
  • Try to combine and solve problems together whenever possible.For example, if you're running out of time to study, try listening to a recorded lecture while walking to class or flip through note cards as you're waiting for dinner. Outline what you know and don't know. Familiarize yourself with the knowledge and information you already have. Then, seek out what you need. Inform yourself of all possible information, then organize it in a meaningful way.
  • For example, if you’re trying to pass a cumulative test, figure out what you already know and what you need to study for. Review everything you already know, then start learning more information from your notes, textbook,or other resources that may help you. Anticipate future outcomes. Come up with a Plan B (or more) so you’re not locked into one solution. Once you’ve come up with possible solutions, think about how each one would play out. Consider possible outcomes and how they would affect you and those around you. Create a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario in your imagination. 
  • Pay attention to know how these scenarios make you feel. Allocate your resources. Your resources may include time, money, effort, travel, etc. If solving the problem is a top priority, you may need to allocate more resources toward solving the problem than you otherwise would. Think about what resources you have that you can give toward solving your problem. 
  • For example, if you have a deadline, you may skip cooking dinner or going to the gym so that you can give that time to your project.
  • Cut down on unnecessary tasks whenever possible. For example,you might get your groceries delivered to you to save on shopping time. You can spend that time instead on other tasks.