How to Problem-Solve Like a Pro

Here’s a skill that verges on being a superpower: Problem-solving. Problem-solving involves diagnosing the possible causes of an issue and developing an action plan that solves that problem. 

Why is it such an important skill? For starters, problems will always be a part of life. When you find ways to solve problems, you succeed. Problems come in all shapes and sizes — big problems and small, complex problems and simple ones. Being able to solve tough issues is especially important. 

That’s where these problem-solving skills come in to help you succeed:

  1. Identify the problem: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to take the time to determine what the problem actually is. For example, if your car won’t start, is the problem that your battery is old and in need of replacement or that you forgot to turn off the headlights? Once you’ve pinpointed the actual problem, you can move on to developing a solution.
  2.  Ask, “What is success?”: Now that you know what the problem is, define what success means. Take a moment to create a mental picture of what successfully solving this problem looks like and feels like.
  3. Brainstorm solutions: Brainstorm possible solutions that would help you solve your problem. During this phase, it’s important to consider all of your options and choose the one that makes the most sense, given the resources available to you.
  4. Plan and implement your solution: You’ve considered all your solution options and chosen the best one. Now, determine the exact steps you’ll need to take to put your solution into action. Consider giving yourself a deadline to solve the problem. Then, do the work to solve the problem.
  5. Measure your solution’s success: Once you’ve completed all the work to solve the problem, determine if your solution worked. Did the outcome look like your definition of success? If your solution didn’t work, start back at the beginning of the process and re-evaluate the problem. 


  1. Think of a complex problem you solved recently. What steps did you use to find a solution? 
  2. Think of a problem that stumped you. How would taking the problem-solving steps above have helped you to solve the problem more efficiently?