How’s Your Problem Solving Skills?

by Krantcents · 28 comments

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Good problem solving skills are important in every aspect of your life.  Everyone has problems to solve every day ranging from the trivial to important issues.  The problems range from financial, education, personal, professional, career, marriage, dating, etc to just name a few.  Solving your problems require a strategy!  What is the best approach to problem solving?  I am glad you asked!  Here are the basic steps to problem solving.

Defining the Problem

This is the hardest part of problem solving.  If you cannot define the problem, you cannot solve it.  I find the better the question the better the answer.  In this case, the clearer we can define the problem, the more likely we can find a solution.  Start with what you want to do about it.  Why is it a problem?  How important is the problem?  What is the objective?  What is unknown?  I like to put the problem into a question such what do I need to do to achieve a particular goal?

Research Options

There is never one solution for a problem!  There are many alternative solutions and you need to think about all of them so you can find the right solution.  Which one is the best solution?  There are pros and cons to all solutions, which one makes the best sense?  I order to find the best one; you need to go through the top three (3) choices for example.  Weight loss may have two (2) broad solutions; diet and exercise.  Which diet and exercise is right for you?


All right, you came up with a dozen solutions.  What are the top three (3) best solutions?  Which are the best solutions?  Using my example of weight loss, which diet is something you can stick with and actually lose weight.  Personally I hate diets, so I would take a different approach.  I would look for reducing my current eating habits by one hundred (100) calories a day.  One of my tricks is replacing snacks or other items with lower calorie choices.  Then I pick an exercise or activity I enjoy such as bicycling, swimming or walking to support the weight loss.


Make a decision!  If you are picking a diet, you can always pick another solution.  If you are picking a college, you may want to do it with more care because making a change could materially affect you.  In other words, there is a range of decisions from diet to picking a college, buying a home or finding a mate. I would spend considerable time on the more important problems of life versus something that I can do over without consequences.


I review all of my decisions to learn from my mistakes and successes.  It is a great way to improve your judgment and improve you problem solving skills.  Did your solution work?  If so, you made a great solution.  If not, changes would you make?  Was there a better alternative that you should consider?  Don’t expect to bat a thousand (1,000) because no one is right all the time.  Learn from your mistakes and do better next time.


Problem solving skills are very important!  If you have good problem solving skills, you can avoid a lot of mistakes.  Making a bad choice may mean trying another solution or in some cases you have a bigger problem. Imagine you bought a house at the height of the real estate market; you just cannot sell the house and take the loss.  Making the wrong choice will affect your credit and much more.  Some decisions require much more thought than others because the consequences are much more.  How’s your problem solving skills?

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How’s your problem solving skills?

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Lance@MoneyLife&More June 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

I think my problem solving skills are decent. The key for me, like you said, is having a process to work through to find the best solution. Otherwise I feel like I am flying blind.

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 7:32 am

Many times the process is rushed because of other priorities. Depending on the importance of the decision, it is up to the individual to stay focused on their priorities.

Paul @ The Frugal Toad June 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

I’m a Science Teacher so my problem solving skills are pretty good. I look at problems as an opportunity to apply my problem solving skills. It’s also rewarding to watch your children solve problems successfully on their own!

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 7:51 am

No one ever talks about how math and science help our problem solving skills. I think just making decisions help improving your problem solving skills. Children need to practice to improve their skills.

Roshawn @ Watson Inc June 20, 2012 at 9:30 am

I agree that problem solving skills are critical. I think too often, don’t develop these and do ourselves a disservice. I try to be more conscious of the problems that I enjoy solving.

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

We make decisions and solve problems all day long! Using a process for the important ones help us think through our problems better.

MyMoneyDesign June 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

I agree that defining the problem is probably the hardest part. Most people think to treat the symptom and not the source. I think evaluation is another place where we get hung up. Too many options will lead to indecision, and then nothing happens.

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

I think I learn the most in the review! You can never bat a 1,000, therefore learning from your successes and mistakes is critical.

Brent Pittman June 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

Any tips for working through this process with your spouse or significant other?

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

We usually talk through any big decisions together. Big is defined as over a few hundred dollars expenditure or significant consequences. By talking it through, we go through these steps together.

maria@moneyprinciple June 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I enjoyed this. In fact, couple of years back I did some work (for my day job) on problems and the ways in which we problematise aspects of life (this was done to understand how problems are constructed in policy). The best thing I found was an old Maori saying: ‘If there is no solution, there is no problem’. Loved it!

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I like that! It fits with my theory of you can only change what you have control over.

Buck Inspire June 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm

They were non-existent, but with maturity comes calm and more logic when facing a problem. If I only knew then what I knew now… Recognizing the problem is critical. In the past, half the time I didn’t even know what was bothering me. How can I solve it?

Krantcents June 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

If you do not recognize there is a problem, maybe there isn’t any! I think I analyze too much for my own good, but I am getting better. My approach is always how can I make it better? Maturity has taught me I cannot solve everything, because some things are beyond my control.

Financial Samurai June 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I feel I’m confident to get down to any problem and fix it. Call me an optimist!

Krantcents June 21, 2012 at 8:33 am

I recognize that I cannot solve every problem, call me a realist! :)

444 June 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I can take a very long time to determine the exact nature of the problem, and then even longer to come up with a course of action, I guess because I am stubborn. But once I make a decision I put everything into it and don’t give up easily.

Krantcents June 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm

It sounds like a plan! I think of myself as determined or tenacious when it comes to solving problems or achieving goals. It sounds more positive than stubborn. Either way, it works!

Barbara Friedberg June 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

The one problem with knowing if your problem solving skills worked or not is that the answer can only be found in hindsight. In general, I’ve made pretty good decisions, but, I wouldn’t be human if there weren’t a few misses along the way.

Krantcents June 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

I agree that is why I include review. I always think it is a good idea to reflect on decisions so you improve your problem solving skills. Let’s face it, no one bats a 1,000!

Darwin's Money June 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I actually miss some of the problem solving involved in my old engineering days in both school and my manufacturing days. We’d have these crazy manufacturing deviations that would occur and it would take days of researching all kinds of instrument temp and pressure data, biological assays and potential for human error and then boom – solution! Great feeling. don’t get that in the business role so much now.

Krantcents June 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I can see every role has its differences, but problem solving skills are always important. As a teacher, I think of myself much more as a problem solver than the traditional teacher.

a blinkin June 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

I am proud of my skills. I constantly do puzzles just to keep my brain Sharp. It really does help.
In this day, with the amount of information at our finger tips, there’s no excuse for not being able to solve a problem.

Krantcents June 25, 2012 at 11:58 am

I agree! As a teacher, I constantly have opportunities to keep my brain stimulated. Puzzles, games, almost anything can help problem solving skills. I love to play games of strategy such as chess, cards or some computer games.

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