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How to Creatively Think Your Way Out of Your Problems

By Kori Puckett

Have you caught yourself saying that there could be no other solution to a problem, and that the problem just leads to a dead end? Have you sometimes felt stumped feeling that a problem can't be solved? Did it feel like you had exhausted all possibilities and yet you still have this large, unconquerable mountain before you?

The pressure of having to solve such a problem may be overwhelming, but don't worry. With some creative problem solving techniques, you can see your problem in a different light. And that light might just be the end of the tunnel that leads to possible solutions.

But you must first accept that more than one solution to your problems may exist, and that problems you thought were unsolvable aren't unsolvable. With this optimistic mindset, you can try to be a little bit more creative in solving your problems.

First of all, maybe you can't solve your problems because you haven't really taken a hard look at what the problem is. Trying to understand the problem and having a concrete understanding of its workings is integral to solving it. If you know how it works, then you have a better foundation towards solving the problem.

Try to identify the participating entities and their relationships with one another. Take note of the things you stand to gain and any you stand to lose from the current problem. Now you have a simple statement of what the problem is.

Second of all, try to take note of all of the constraints and assumptions you have about the problem. Sometimes it's these assumptions that obstruct our view of possible solutions. You have to identify which assumptions prove valid and which ones need to be addressed.

Third of all, try to solve the problem in small steps. Solve it going from general view towards the more detailed parts of the problem. This is called the top-down approach. Write down the question, and then come up with a one sentence solution, a general statement of what will solve the problem. From here you can develop the solution further.

Next, although it helps to think critically as you solve a problem, you must also keep a creative, analytical voice at the back of your head. At the same time, look for chinks in the armor of that solution.

At this point, it also helps to remember that more than one solution can be developed. Try to keep track of all the solutions and their developments.

And keep this old adage in mind, as well: two heads are better than one. When you or someone else comes up with a possible solution, think creatively about how you could make that solution work. Always be open to new ideas. You don't have to tread through the waters alone. In fact, you can only benefit from listening to all the ideas each person has, especially when the person you're talking to has had experience solving problems similar to yours.

Lastly, be patient. As long as you persevere, you increase the chances that a solution will present itself. No one created a perfect breakthrough invention the first time around.

So, the next time you see a problem you think you can't solve, think again. The solution might just be staring you right in the face. All it takes is just a little creative thinking and some planning and work.

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