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How to Solve Any ProblemYou know the importance of applying discipline and effort to overcome any problem that stands in your way. But some problems call for more than steely determination—they require you to step back and apply some mental power.

Related: 4 Keys to Unlock the Power of Your Mind

If you’re faced with a roadblock like this, put it all down on paper. When you write a problem down on paper, you take the emotion out of it. With the emotion gone, you can look at the roadblock objectively. You can figure out what you did right. You can figure out what you did wrong. You can figure out how to change it.

Here’s what you do: Pick a problem out of your head and pull out a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle of the paper. On the left-hand side, jot down the problem in detail.

We’ve got so much going on in our heads that it may just be difficult to isolate this particular problem. Just state it the best you can.

On the other side of this paper, you’re going to write some solutions. There are three questions to ask yourself to generate those solutions, to solve almost any problem.

Related: Think Slow and Other Tricks for Better Problem-Solving

The first question you need to consider is this: What can I do? You don’t want to go any further than that if you can solve the problem yourself. Start jotting down any options that come to mind. Lay out the alternatives. Then begin analyzing them. “Let’s see, number three… no, that one would take too long. I haven’t got that much time. OK. Number two? Not sure. OK. Let’s look at number one. Maybe the one I thought of first is my best one.”

If that doesn’t seem to work, here’s the second problem-solving question: What could I read? Maybe there’s a book on your problem. Somebody may have spent a lifetime trying to figure out this problem. You could receive the instant benefit of this person’s advice if you take the time to look. Maybe it’s concisely written somewhere. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you do your homework, you just may find the solution.

Start taking notes on what you’re reading. Book number one: This guy’s crazy. Book number two: This guy’s too shallow. Book number three: This guy’s got some interesting things to say about this problem.

If that still doesn’t work, then ask question number three: Who could I ask?

What should you have ready when you ask somebody to help you? You’ve got your notes to show them. You say, “You know, I’ve tried my best to figure it out myself, and it has left me short. Here are some of the books I’ve read. Here are my notes. I’ve researched this material, and I’m still confused. Could you possibly help me?”

You can’t believe how willing people will be to help you if they know that you’re willing to help yourself.

I promise you, if you try these ideas and ask these questions when you’ve got a problem, you’ll be able to solve just about anything that gets in your way.

Related: Creating the Right Attitude for Success

 

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