In the 80s and early 90s, I used to watch the Krypton Factor. I loved that show. Especially when they did the intelligence and skill tests… I would be screaming at the contestants trying to tell them what way to organise the puzzles… I was the same watching the Crystal Maze and other types of programmes where they had to solve problems and puzzles to progress through the TV show.

Have you ever done Sudoku? Or are you into cryptic crosswords? Or do you play Bejewelled or Angry Birds on your Smartphone? Do you do any other kind of regular problem solving?

Katie and I love crime thrillers and psychological films with a clever twist. I think I tend to irritate Katie a bit due to the fact that I work out what is happening and guess at the twist throughout the programmes and films… I do love problem solving.

One of my hypnotherapy teachers once told me of how he admired one of his motor mechanic friends because he loved to look at a faulty engine and relished working out what was wrong with it… Such was this influence that my teacher used to compare his own work with his hypnotherapy clients by relishing working out how to best help them get better and resolve their issues.

So few people seem to actually use the same energy for personal problem solving as we do for these kinds of activities I have mentioned above.

In my own consulting rooms, as with so many other therapeutic environments, many of our therapy approaches ensure that the therapist listens out for the presence of problematic language, limiting beliefs and distorted thought processes. Yet when we employ problem-solving strategies to our therapeutic approach we start to become aware of the absence of healthy language, positive mindsets, beliefs and thought processes.

So this week, I wanted to share with you a really basic problem solving strategy to apply to yourself and ascertain logically what you can do to make life better and healthier and happier for yourself… Without the need for anything more dramatic… And I hope you relish the problem solving in the same way that you may relish other problem solving challenges in your life.

12 Steps To Apply Problem Solving To Yourself:

The main structure that I offer up today is the one found in many problem solving therapy approaches from the main authors of problem solving therapy. (I learned them from UKHypnosis trainer Donald Robertson, and you can investigate the work of D’Zurilla and Goldfried as well as Spivack and Sure if you’d like to examine this approach further)

Step One: Firstly, you examine and ascertain what the problem is.

Some people do get anxious, frustrated or just down in the dumps thinking about any problems they may have… heck they may have avoided it as a result… So first you recognise any problems you may currently have then choose and approach them (and reframe them if necessary) as challenges to be overcome; like your puzzles, crosswords and murder mysteries, for example.

Get motivated and truly commit an appropriate and necessary period of time as well as effort that you’ll invest in getting the problem resolved. Get a pen and paper to write down a lot of the information you generate.

So with pen in hand, the time and space made, feeling motivated and driven about the problem solving process, you move on and get stuck into the following steps.

Step Two: Defining The Problem.

Write down exactly what the problem is here. Having identified it, now write it down and do your best to define the problem. The problem may be a situation or circumstance, in which case you adapt your answer, but just write down and define the problem as best as you can. Get some clarity on it.

Explore it a little bit by examining the situations and times that the problem occurs and write those down. Explain in your write up what actually does happen when the problem occurs. Explain whether it is exclusive to you or if other people are involved in any way. Look at the things that spark the problem, and what conditions are present when it happens.

In NLP, this kind of exploration is often referred to looking at your logical levels and you explore the environment of the problem at hand, the behaviour and so on.

Right now, at this stage, define the problem, see it for what it truly is, chart and record it accurately in writing, and when you feel satisfied you have done that, move on to the next step.

Step Three:  Establish SMART Goals.

I am guessing you have come across this notion before. Most people that read these kinds of personal development ezines have encountered SMART goals.

The two classic questions I teach all my hypnotherapy students to ask when working with clients are “what do you want?” and “how will you know when you have achieved that?” This is fashioning an outcome and with SMART goals, we are getting into detail with a well-formed outcome for the process. What you want to happen?

Setting goals in this way is not a strictly linear process and you may reassess and revisit goals as they may evolve and change. Do make sure you set them in a progressive mindset – setting goals when you are experiencing negative (or what the Dalai Lama calls ‘destructive emotions’) is going to distort the goals.

So as you set your goals, as much as is possible, ensure that they conform to the principles of SMART goal setting:

S – specific

M- measurable

A – attainable

R – realistic

T – time-bound & tangible

SMART as an acronym has been quoted many times and there are several different translations for the acronym especially for the A and the R. All are good: Achievable, Attainable, Actionable, Reachable, Relevant, Realistic.

make the goal as real as you can, and make it compelling – short term goals are usually more compelling than longer term goals (10 years into the future can seem like a VERY long time away and may not inspire or motivate you). So if you do have a long term goal, break it down to a shorter goal that is an indication that you are well on your way to achieving the longer term goal.

Step Four: You can enlist constructive assistance here, or just have a one-man brainstorm.

The idea is that you do not dismiss anything, you just write out loads and loads of ideas without editing them just yet. Have a brainstorm about possible solutions to the problem.

Be as creative as you can. What different ways could you behave? What different ways could you think? What actions could you take? What differences could be made to your usual reactions and responses?

Avoid editing or judging, just get as much data, ideas and thoughts down in writing as you possibly can. Consider as many options, even ones which you might not think are valuable initially, even include things you may have avoided doing for particular reasons.

Step Five: SWOT Analysis and Consequences.

Now have a good look at each of the things you previously wrote down and give them a kind of SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project. So not really perfect for this kind of personal development. However, it gives a framework for how you look at each of the ideas you brainstormed previously, ensuring that you do it with neutrality and objectivity (i.e. not dismissing things because of laziness or personal bias).

Give pros and cons for each of the things you have written up, exhaust all that you can about the proposed solution in your exploration. Then also look ecologically at each solution.

That is, look at the depth of consequences to each solution – who else is affected? What are the wider consequences to your own life? How does it impact on other areas of your life? Will you have to let go of certain things? Will you have to embrace things you previously avoided? Examine the bigger picture of the proposed solutions.

Step Six: Scale and Rate.

Having done that as thoroughly as possible, and ideally as objectively as possible… Now go ahead and rate how satisfied you feel with each of the proposed solutions, on a scale of 0-10.
Be objective, be practical and be realistic. Trust yourself, evaluate and rate them each.

Then as a result of your rating, choose which solution is going to be the one that you adopt and put into action.

With that decision made, with that choice in mind, move on to the next step.

Step Seven: Getting Motivated.

Without a good level of motivation, you are unlikely to truly get an action plan in place and adopt this solution strategy, are you? So you need to get yourself motivated.

Write up a list of rewards that you will gain as a result of making this change and getting this problem dealt with. How will life be better?

Write down a list of your motives, write down what is driving you to do this. What benefits will you gain as a result?

it is also worth writing down what issues it will cause if you do not solve this problem. Write down how much worse off you’ll be if it is not dealt with properly.

The idea is to get yourself driven, motivated and focused here. With that done, move on.

Step Eight: Putting Your Plan Together.

“I love it when a plan comes together”

You now write out your plan. You plot, create and fashion your plan of action.

get specific with regards to what you are going to do on what days and at what times. You may want to share this with someone so that you are held accountable for doing it and committing to it.

map out each step you need to take – include information you may need, knowledge you may have to learn, people you have to advise, places you’ll need to go etc, etc. Ideally diarise the entire thing.

We don’t want to focus on anything going wrong or potentially failing, but it is wise to have a contingency plan in case of changes that are unexpected. So maybe also write up a contingency plan at this stage too, to employ in case of any disruption to the plan.

Once you are fully satisfied with the plan of action, and feeling driven and motivated about it, we are ready to push on…

Step Nine: Look at any personal development options.

Here you may like to add some techniques and strategies that you have found beneficial to help with your mindset. if you need inspiration, look at some of my self-hypnosis techniques that I write about often in this very ezine (entire back catalogue is in our members area).

Ideally, just look at ways of keeping inspired, motivated and thinking positively to help you with the very important next step.

Step Ten: Just Do It!

Now go ahead and do your plan. Start it. Involve yourself in it. take action and implement the steps.

Ensure that each step of the way, you keep track of your progress and you recognise your progress, reward and praise yourself when it is due and even allow yourself some excitement as you see the results occurring as a result of your problem solving skills.

Step Eleven: Reflection.

On a regular basis, assess and reflect upon what you did and how it went. Chart the results, chart the problems or snags, and chart your overall progress.

Once you reach the end of your plan, evaluate what you did, you might even like to rate your level of satisfaction with the result and how you did from 0-10. You might like to write up any changes you would make in hindsight, or things you’d do differently, or resources that you’d benefit from having in the future. Chart what you have learned.

Step Twelve: Success or Restart?

With all the information you have gleaned and considered in the previous step. If you have not fully let go of or dealt with the problem to your absolute satisfaction… Consider repeating the process.

Amend the plan, amend whatever you feel is necessary and then go about it again with all the vigour and drive.

So there you have it. A process by which you can relish and enjoy exploring your own problems and rationally, and logically work your way through. Problem solving is something we do all enjoy in various guises… I hope you enjoy using it with yourself and any problems that may exist in your life. Have fun.

If you’d like to learn more or if this has resonated with you in some way, then visit these pages:

1. Do you need help with some of the problems in your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others overcome their problems?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist for whom problems are negatively effecting the success of your business?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.