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Problem-Solving Strategies: Potential Paths to a Solution
Life is filled with problems big and small, and a life coach can help you find new ways to tackle them. No problem has any one solution, but read on to learn about a few methods that researchers say can help the brain sort through life’s riddles.
Analogy: This method requires you to come up with a hypothetical situation, similar to the conundrum you face, and imagine how you might react to the analogous situation.
Example: Jimmy needs to find a way to fit all his towels in his suitcase, but the stacks won’t fit. Then inspiration strikes: he rolls the towels up before laying them in neatly packed rows, just like the case of 20 taquitos he bought at the airport convenience store.
Divide and conquer: Rather than looking at an entire problem at once, the divide-and-conquer strategy advises breaking it down into smaller, easier-to-tackle components.
Example: The night before her anatomy and physiology final, Kari feels overwhelmed when trying to memorize all the bones in the human body. To simplify the task, she focuses on remembering specific sections—such as the limbs, ribs, wings, and spine—separately.
Flowchart: A typical flowchart would begin with the issue written in one bubble, with possible methods of addressing it marked out along various paths. This process is ideal for visual learners, as it clearly maps out problems and steps toward solving them.
Example: Charlotte can’t decide what to use to spin her web. In the first bubble, she writes “Thread?” From there, she draws branches labeled “dental floss,” “my naturally occurring silk,” and “licorice” and lists the pros and cons of each.
Trial-and-error: True to its name, the trial-and-error technique means attempting multiple potential solutions and seeing which work. This process can be time-consuming, so it is best used when limited options are available.
Example: Archimedes can never get the bathtub temperature right. He spends a week conducting an experiment, each time boiling the water for a longer time. After each trial, he pours the water out in his backyard’s natural hot spring.