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In our daily lives, we encounter problems and challenges, large and small. These can be, for example, a difficult study task or sleeping through the alarm and being late for a lecture. A problem can be a situation where you have a goal but no means to achieve it.

Problems in life can be social, like loneliness; emotional, like anxiety; health-related, like illness; or cognitive, like learning difficulties. A common feature for many problems is that they become more complex as they become more prolonged. A solution to a problem cannot always be found overnight, but below is some information on reaching one.


Problem-solving can be seen as a process that progresses through a number of stages. For example, psychologist Graham Wallas has described problem-solving through these four stages:

  1. Preparation: working through the problem and setting goals
  2. Incubation: leaving the issue to incubate for a period such as overnight
  3. Illumination: The solution emerges as a kind of an “aha” moment. Sometimes, however, the insight may emerge gradually.
  4. Verification: The solution is tested and then accepted or rejected.

The problem-solving process can also be approached through three different elements:

  1. The initial stage, where the problem is defined. What is it about?
  2. The means to solve the problem.
  3. The goals. When the means to solve the problem are identified, the goal can be achieved.

There are different methods and strategies for solving a problem. They can also be learned and adopted throughout life. The most important thing is to be brave enough to try different methods and find the ones that suit you best.


Strategic problem-solving is a model that can be applied to any field and different types of problems. It consists of three steps: the definition, goal, and confrontation.


The first step is definition. Before looking for a solution, you need to know what exact problem you are facing. One way to define the problem is to ask what the problem consists of, where it is, when it occurred, how it occurred and why it occurred. In other words: it’s a good idea to take the time to identify the details of the problem.

Approaching the problem through a variety of questions and perspectives makes it easier to solve. For example, if the problem is performance anxiety, you can redefine the problem by asking yourself:  What can I do to stop being so anxious? What are the things that make me nervous? What options do I have to relieve my nervousness?  Thinking about the issue from different angles will give you a new understanding and help you find different ways of dealing with the problem.


Once you have defined the problem, you need to find out what your goals are. Ask yourself what you want and what your goal is. Look closely at your problem and visualise it as a challenge rather than a threat. In this way, problem-solving becomes a source of motivation, resulting in lower stress levels and significantly higher levels of satisfaction.


Once you have identified your goal for solving the problem, it is time to set a strategy to achieve it. At this point, it is good to consider and identify the strategy that will best help you achieve your goal and solve the problem. There are many strategies. One way to face a problem is to use a solution-focused approach.


When you know yourself well, it is easier to face challenges in everyday life and find solutions that work. It is, therefore, essential to remember to listen to yourself and your own needs and goals when solving problems. You can ask yourself: What do I need? What works for me? What is the right way for me to solve this problem?

When you listen to your inner self, your life will look more like you. You will also be an active player in your life. Things don’t just happen; you make them happen through your actions and capabilities. It is worth the trouble to harness your strengths and skills to solve problems. Making changes requires self-awareness.