Start Treating Your Problems Like Puzzles
Puzzles are fun.
Everyday problems, not so much. But if you think a little deeper, all problems are puzzles of one sort or another. They all arise from multiple things getting mixed up, and almost all of them can be solved with a little careful thinking and strategic planning.
January 29th was National Puzzle Day in the US. In the spirit of this holiday, let us look at how our everyday problems can be solved without the added stress if we start treating them as simple puzzles and not life-and-death conundrums. Here are a few tips with which you can excel at the puzzles that life throws at us every day.
Gather your resources
In any situation, the first thing you must always check is what you already know about it. In the stress of the moment, we often forget crucial information that gives us woe later on. Gather your resources and knowledge into one place; make lists, keep records, inventory meticulously, just like you do in puzzles.
Devise a plan
Jumping headlong into a problem without having a clear plan most often lead to failures, in puzzle solving as in life. Have a basic strategy of how you are going to go about things and break it down in a few steps before you get into solving things. This way, you’ll always be prepared for unexpected twists and turns.
If you need advanced mathematical skills to solve a simple puzzle, chances are you are overthinking it. Same with your life problems. If you start feeling like you need resources far out of your reach, it’s probably the stress talking. Keep the scope of your problem in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll never run out of resources that way.
Groupings and patterns
Always try to look for patterns and types in the problem you are facing. Most puzzles can be solved by grouping and identifying underlying patterns; your life problems are not very different. There will always be something common among the different strands of your problem. Identifying them correctly is half the battle won, because then you can solve the parts separately.
Working backwards is a very common method in solving puzzles, and it sometimes works wonders in your real life problems as well. Think of your desired outcome, then think back step by step all the things you need to do to achieve that outcome. The strategy you need to take will be clear to you in no time! This is also a great way to identify the resources you need to tackle a particular situation.
You get better at solving puzzles only if you keep trying through failures. Your life is no different. If you give up on something after initial obstacles, you’ll never get better at solving those problems. Unlike puzzles, your problems have real consequences, so giving up will almost certainly mean a recurrence of the same problem in different forms. So, if you fail to achieve the desired outcome at one go, try again. Just like puzzles, the more you engage in problem-solving, the better you get at it. So don’t give up.