How to Think Critically and Problem Solve

The one constant in life is change, and with change, there are often problems to solve or decisions to make. Learning to think critically, to analyze your problems, and to reason can be a powerful tool for helping you lead the life you want and achieve the goals you desire. Critical thinking skills also help you develop and hone the rest of the essential life skills you need, including figuring out what is important to you, helping to develop a perspective on yourself and the world, giving you an open mind and sense of humor, and helping you to become more resilient and accepting. Here are some tips for learning to think more critically and solve your problems, whatever they may be.

Start by Developing a Problem-Solving Mindset

The right mindset is crucial for solving problems and reasoning. For example, a negative mindset will only see obstacles and setbacks, but a positive outlook helps you see possibilities, opportunities, and stepping stones. In your everyday life, you can become a better problem solver by relying more on your reasoning than your emotions by being able to listen to and analyze many different perspectives and viewpoints, always asking questions instead of blindly accepting things, and avoiding knee jerk reactions and hasty decisions. When you start to practice these in your daily life, they will become natural and a part of how you approach tricky situations, too.

Figure Out the Problem

To solve a problem, you first must know what you are dealing with. Is there even a problem? And if so, is this a problem you have influence over or something outside your control? What precisely is the nature of the problem, and who does it affect? Can you figure out the source of the problem? If not, what additional information do you need to determine this? The more you learn about the problem itself, the easier it is to find a solution or identify ways to prevent it from happening again. Systematically looking at the problem from many angles and multiple perspectives will be extremely helpful here.

Brainstorm Many Different Solutions

Resist the urge to land on one solution right away, as it may not be the right one. Instead, look at all the ways you could possible solve this problem. Consider if you can solve it alone or if the help of others will be necessary. Get advice from others who may be able to see the problem differently than you. Make a list of many different solutions, including those that you may initially think are not feasible. Do not edit your options right away. The more options you leave at this stage, the more likely you are to find one that works.

Pick the One that Fits Best

Sometimes, no solution solves all aspects of the problem, but there may be one that deals with most of the issue. Do not just assume that what worked before will work again, either. And some problems require several solutions to deal with different aspects of the challenge. Pick the solution or solutions that work best from your list.

Implement Your Choice

Decide what needs to happen and put your plan into action. Get help from others or gather the resources you need, but act on your solution and evaluate its outcome. Looking at what worked and what did not will help you determine better solutions for the future, and when your solution does not have the results you need, you can make adjustments or return to your list to find an alternative that works better.

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