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Do you have a problem that you need to solve right now?  Whenever I am faced with a challenge or a problem that needs solving, I find that for me to arrive at a creative solution, it is important to focus the  mind in new directions.  It can be done systematically by using a list of words, primarily adjectives, to create “what if?” scenarios.

I begin with the question, “what if it was…” and then insert a word from the list. The “it” in the question is the problem needs to be solved, or the solution or situation that presently exists.

Using “What If” To Solve Problems

Let’s explain the process with an example.  Let’s say, you are operating your business from your home.  As a result, your home is too crowed.  So, the question becomes, “What if it was…” and insert a word from the word list, “smaller.” The house is already too small, but could the business be smaller? The word “divided” might give you the idea to keep the business in just one part of the home.

Briefly Consider All Options

Most words on the list won’t be relevant to your problem so you can go through them quickly.  Of course, you don’t want to dismiss them without a few seconds of consideration. “What if it was hopeless?” may seem like a useless question, or it may make you come to the conclusion that you just can’t keep the business in your home any longer.

This is just an example.  However, as with most problem-solving techniques, it’s important to allow ideas to flow without judging them too quickly. Don’t dam up the creative process.  Let the ideas flow.  After you’re done with this part of the process, begin to evaluate your ideas.

The Problem Solving Word List

Create your own list of words.  Use adjectives, descriptive phrases, and words that can change your perspective. These could include the following:

What if it was… larger, smaller, farther away, closer, sooner, later, easier, more difficult, higher, fat, rich, short, brown, certain, hopeless, newer, boring, casual, subtracted from, cheaper, common, divided, shared, more interesting, extravagant, subtle, or fun?

Have fun with the process.  The more you use it, the faster you will arrive at solutions to your challenges.  This process will work in your relationships, employment issues, financial matters and all of the issues of life.   Have fun. “I’ll see you at the top.”

* J Thomas Smith is host of “Sunday Morning Live” on KMJQ/Majic 102.1 (9-11 am). He is an attorney, author, keynote speaker and mental health consultant. Your comments are we welcome: jtsmith@radio-one.com. Follow on Twitter @drjtsmith102.

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