The art of problem solving is very similar to the art of putting a puzzle
together. There are a variety of tricks that can make the process a whole lot
easier if you’ll just follow them.
Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend breaks down the simple steps to
tackle any problem.
· SET YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
o Most people, when putting together a puzzle, start by putting the puzzle
box and the completed picture of the puzzle right in front of them on the
table. This enables them to have a clear vision of what they’re trying to
accomplish by putting a puzzle together. The same principle is just as
valuable when you’re trying to solve the more difficult problems in your life.
By taking the time to have a clear vision in your mind of what the finished
goal or product could look like, you’ll have something to connect back to
when things get confusing. The vision should be an example of the healthy,
pristine finished product, not your worst case scenarios if your problems are
not dealt with. For example, if the problem you are facing is a potential
bankruptcy, you would want to have a clear vision of what your life would
and could look like when you fix the problems and have effectively fixed the
problem. You may want to think through how you will feel, how you will
spend and act and what you will do differently. I would also write those ideas
down, so they can be reviewed along the way, just as you do when putting
your puzzles together.
· START CONNECTING AND GROUPING THE PIECES YOU CAN
o Once you have a clear vision of what the completed puzzle looks like, I
suggest that you start putting together the easiest connections you can find
in the puzzle. Take the pieces that obviously go together and start grouping
those pieces together. This simple task of putting together the pieces you
can, and grouping others, gets your hands into the puzzle and also keeps
your mind busily engaged in activity, which in an of itself can be healing.
The same principle is true when dealing with your own problems. Start
sifting through the different parts of the problem and quickly fix the parts
you can, connect the dots that are there, and start to break the problems
pieces down into like groups. For example, if you are going through
financial stress, you might be able to quickly put together a few solutions to
slow some of your spending, like turning off certain services or cutting up
your credit cards. You might also be able to see the groupings that may have
lead to some of your financial problems, like employment problems,
spending habits, household expenses, home mortgage, etc. The more you
can start seeing the pieces, the more you can start to create the benefit of
creating even small successes toward your bigger goals. The more pieces
you can put together quickly, the faster you can get to solving the more
complicated pieces of your problem.
· BUILD A FRAME TO PUT YOUR PIECES INTO
o Most people who put a puzzle together eventually feel the need to work
on the the border around the puzzle. The obvious flat edges may make this
task easier than the other pieces. By framing the puzzle, you can begin to
lay out the boundaries and structure upon which you can place your
solutions. The same process is true when solving your problems. Start
placing a frame around your problem by putting boundaries, rules and
structures into your life that will help you have the structure to finish your
project. For example, if you’re going through financial stress, you might
want to have boundaries, like formalized budgets, cutting up your credit
cards, moving to a cash only system, consolidating debt or hiring a financial
planner to help. That frame will begin to hold all of the other solutions that
will emerge as you focus on putting your plan together.
· STEP AWAY WHEN YOUR PROGRESS STALLS
o Everyone who has ever put a puzzle together knows the value of
sometimes stepping away from the puzzle to reorient and get a little space.
Those breaks allow you to bring back a new perspective and a renewed
energy. The same is true when dealing with the problems of our lives.
Sometimes we all need a little break, and a chance to reset and refocus our
vision. By simply stepping away, we give our minds and energy a chance to
regroup and we are able to come back to the problem with a new vision to
see anew how to handle our problem. Just promise yourself you’ll keep
· ALLOW OTHERS IN TO HELP
o Putting together puzzles is usually more fun when you’re working on the
problem together with the people you care about most. When working on
the problems of life, involve the people you love and allow them to help, even
if you’re really not sure you want their help. Sometimes their different vision
and experience may help you to see the pieces and connections in a way that
can help you to solve the problem sooner. When it comes to solving
problems, you can also include the eyes of other professionals who have had
significantly more experience in solving the problems you’re struggling with.
· REMEMBER THAT SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
o In the end, whether it’s in puzzles or problems, slow and steady wins the
race. The key is to just keep pluggging away, finding the connections when
you can and keep looking to the big picture. Problem solving and puzzles
usually aren’t foot races, they’re more like marathons. We just need to keep
at it and eventually we’ll find ourselves at the finish line.
Matt’s next workshop:
Learn to Have REAL Communication
Saturday, July 21st, 9am to 3pm
Call the office @ (801)747-2121 for Studio 5 viewer special pricing