10 Tips For Developing Excellent Problem-Solving Skills

The ability to solve problems is a fantastic skill to have in life. In this article we take a look at 10 ways you can get yourself out of a pickle.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

     – Albert Einstein

We all come up against problems in life. How quickly we solve them, and how well we solve them has a great bearing on how successful we are in life.

Some people just seem naturally gifted at solving problems. We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps you went to school with someone who always got themselves out of jams really quickly, or maybe you know someone now who is really good at thinking on their feet.

Envious? You should be. But the great thing is that we can all become better at solving problems so that they go away quicker and we can move on to the next chapter in our lives.

Successful people make instant decisions and remove problems as quickly as possible. To be one of them, take a look at our 10 tips for developing excellent problem-solving skills.

Always Shift Your Focus To The Solution

One reason why some people are perpetually bad at solving problems is that they choose to dwell on the problem for too long with a sort-of “woe is me” attitude. Does this sound like you? If so, you need to quit and shift focus to the solution.

We all have problems in life. Some people can’t seem to get their dating life together, others are stuck in rubbish jobs, while others have money woes. But if you keep fixating on the problem and feeling sorry for yourself, all you’ll be doing is creating a vicious cycle of negative energy.

We’re not saying that you should ignore the problem and brush it under the carpet. But it’s time to stop dwelling on it and letting it get you down.

Start shifting focus to the solution. Be positive about this. There is a solution out there! Once you acknowledge this, and once you start saying that you can find it, your brain undergoes a remarkable transformation – it actively starts seeking out the solution!

Stay Rational

Our problems escalate when we lose control of our minds and let all kinds of irrational fears in. We start to imagine the worst and panic.

To solve a problem you must always stay in control.

Say No To People

Sometimes, we create our own problems through our inability to say No to people. And the more often we say Yes, the more our problems mount up.

Be a bit more selfish and say No to requests you know you just can’t handle at the moment. You don’t need to give a reason. Just No will suffice.

Create Small Goals

Let’s say your problem is a money problem. You need to find a way of saving up $2,000 by the end of the year so you can pay off your debts. At this point, it seems impossible. You’ve never saved that much money in your life.

Problems can seem insurmountable until we break them down into stages. Mount Everest sure would have look insurmountable until climbing it was broken down into stages.

Saving $2,000 by the end of the year is your big goal. But you should then create a series of smaller goals that will help you to achieve this bigger goal. For example, you could outline how much you need to save each month. You could come up with a new weekly grocery budget, as well as identify where most of your money goes each month. Maybe you’ll find that  by only going to 5 sports games per year instead of 15 you can save a bundle.

Problems look less scary when we break them down into bits.

Ask For Help

The more you ask for help, the more wisdom you’ll absorb. When similar problems arise in the future, you’ll know what to do.

Keep Things Simple

For one reason or another, us humans are very good at over-complicating things.

We’re just the same when it comes to solving problems. Sometimes the solution is right in front of our eyes, but we can’t see it because we assume it has to be much further away than that.

Try keeping things simple for once. If an answer seems way too obvious to be correct, so what? It could be the solution you’ve been looking for all this time!

Be Creative

There are some problems that aren’t going to go away any time soon, and indeed it’s not the problem we have to solve but the way we respond to the problem.

For example, let’s say you’re a budding tennis player who has injured your strongest arm. It’s going to be out of action for three months according to the doctors, which totally sucks because you now can’t play.

Or can you?

You could sit around feeling sorry for yourself, or you could use this time to make your weaker arm stronger.

In this way, the problem is still there but you’ve turned it into a positive by being creative.

Stop Asking Why

Have you ever encountered a problem and asked yourself “Why Me?”?

Perhaps when other people have come to you with a problem, you’ve asked Why? again:

“I feel down.”


The problem with asking Why? is that it doesn’t get us anywhere. All that happens is we have to listen to a lengthy, detailed response that provides lots of Why’s but no answers.

It’s a waste of time. Instead, it’s much more productive if you were to ask “What do I need to do?” or “What one thing would really help right now?”

Asking Why is just another way of focusing on the problem. Asking What or How questions (to ourselves or the other person) shifts the focus to the solution.

We’re all guilty of focusing on the Why’s. But once you start looking at the What’s and the How’s, you’ll find that solving problems becomes easier.

Stay Motivated

If at first succeed? You must try again!

You might not solve a problem the first time around. But it’s okay. There are more than one ways to skin a cat. If the first thing you try doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t be so easily discouraged.


Lastly, sometimes problems simply don’t go away for a very long time and there’s nothing at all we can do but endure.

Have patience. Wait the problem out. Don’t get frustrated. You’re still in control of your mind and how you respond to things. And endurance builds character.

Stay happy!

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