12 Comments

Summary:

The past few months have been filled with dilemmas; I’ve found myself struggling to find solutions to them on occasion. While figuring out how to move forward with something can be frustrating, there are a few strategies I’ve stumbled on to help me get unstuck.

chess game

The past few months have been filled with dilemmas both big and small, and I’ve found myself struggling to find solutions to them on several occasions. While the process of figuring out how to move forward with something can be frustrating, discouraging, and even exhausting, there are a few strategies I’ve stumbled on recently to help me get unstuck and get back on track quickly.

#1 Be persistent.

Fortunately, in every one of the situations I’ve had to resolve recently, not finding a solution was not an option. Although I would have loved to give up and declare a stalemate, I knew that wasn’t possible without accepting consequences I wasn’t willing to take, so I had to stick with them until I figured out a way to move forward.

Whatever problem you’re facing, trust that there must be a way to work through it and get to the other side.

#2 Stop avoiding it.

Although I’m pretty good at not procrastinating most of the time, when it comes to solving tricky problems, I’m one of the worst procrastinators. I want to take breaks, surf the Web, and call anyone and everyone I think might be available to chat. I’ll delay and avoid until I’ve wasted the majority of the day.

With one particular issue I had to figure out recently (which I had already postponed for nearly two months), I finally decided that I simply would not allow myself off the hook until I worked it out. I paced a path through my house and thought I’d never get through it, but eventually, the strategy worked, and I was very satisfied with the outcome.

Allow yourself breaks when you absolutely need them, but if you’re anything like me, you probably know when you really need a rest and when you’re just procrastinating. It won’t work 100 percent of the time, but there are occasions when not allowing yourself off the hook can really pay off.

#3 Work in reverse.

In the recent month or so, I decided to hire a couple of interns, in the hope of finding motivated and talented people I could add to my team permanently. I started the process of locating prospects through several university job posting boards, as well as a few privately-owned sites, but the pool of potential new hires was slim.

At first, I was a little discouraged, and in an effort to fine-tune my job postings, I started searching for terms like “what interns do” and “how to be a good intern” and began stumbling on blogs of actual interns who were exactly the type of candidates I wanted: aggressive, enthusiastic, eager, etc. Of course, these interns were already more than busy, but I started paying attention to the people who were commenting on their blogs, and it turns out, many of them were considering doing internships. As I followed the links back to their owners’ sites, I started finding unique, highly talented and motivated students who were perfect candidates for the job.

Instead of going more traditional routes for solving particular problems, try to think of other ways you might connect with the solutions you need.

#4 Pay attention to what’s right in front of you.

My latest dilemma was figuring out what to write for today’s post. I had been so busy with solving the other issues, I hadn’t backlogged ideas for this week’s article. After thinking on possibilities for nearly two hours, I finally said to myself, “I’m stuck,” and then it hit me: that’s it! I could have saved myself two hours, if I had only paid attention to what was right in front of me.

When you feel like you’ve searched high and low to find a solution, ask yourself if you’re missing the obvious. Turn to the resources immediately available to you, like pulling from past experiences or relying on your network of business contacts, family, and friends. Many times, the answer is not that far away.

What tricks do you use for getting unstuck and solving challenging problems in your business?

Photo by Flickr user Mariano Kamp, licensed under CC 2.0

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):


You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Amber – great tips but especially #3. Great way of going about that kind of task!

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Daryl Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Thanks, Daryl! Working in reverse is one of my favorite ways to find solutions to problems.

  2. Not only be persistent, but push forward to a set goal. If you have something to work for, it’s easier to be persistent.

    Great tips!

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Deborah Fike Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Agreed, Deborah! It’s not only important to know HOW we’re going to do something, but WHY we’re doing it in the first place.

  3. #4 – Good example of turning a problem into a solution!

    I find when I’m programming that it is sometimes easy to miss something right in front of you. Sometimes I will overlook something simple thinking that it couldn’t be that easy but #1 staying persistent gets it figured out :)

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Adam Bluhm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Thanks, Adam! I was very happy to stumble on that solution, for sure, and I agree, it’s hard to get through anything without persistence.

  4. For me, there are times when being stuck for too long means I need to evaluate the importance of that thing I’m stuck on in the first place. This forces me to take a step back, and think about what is motivating me (if anything) to pursue that task, as well as what the benefits and drawbacks are to completing or not completing it. In the end, this tends to result in enough motivation to just get started, or enough reasons to cross it off my list and forget about it.

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Dan Kligerman Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      You’re right, Dan. Sometimes it’s better to let something go, or at least that can be an indication that we’re on the wrong track or that we need to reevaluate things. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Excellent article, Amber. When I get stuck, I’ll ask myself several “what” questions…What is in the way? What am I not seeing? What do I need to get through or around this? What am I sure of? What is missing from the equation?
    If I ask enough “what” questions, it eventually begins to unravel the mystery.

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Jackie Nagel Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Thanks, Jackie! I agree completely. Sometimes just continuing to ask the right questions can help you find the solution.

  6. Like the work in reverse idea. If you know what you want in the end, it’s easier to take steps to get there.

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Scott Asai Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Thanks, Scott. It’s my favorite problem-solver!

Comments have been disabled for this post