Successfully overcoming challenges require knowing exactly what the challenge involves. Many times when we first encounter a challenge we feel threatened and react defensively before knowing what we are up against. When we step back from the problem or challenge and take time to examine it we find the problem has other contributing factors that were not clearly in focus in the outset. During this phase take time to collect data about your problem or challenge such as when it began, what were the symptoms that a problem existed, and how long has this been going on (Pokras, 1989).
Upon identifying the factors or underlying causes of the problem you can then move onto step two defining the challenge. In this step it is a good idea to write down the possible causes for the challenge that you are now facing. This will require analyzing the data you have collected, thinking about what this data means, deciding what it is you want and what you do not want, and narrowing down the challenge or problem to single points of causation (Pokras, 1989). Once you have narrowed the scope of the challenge or problem down to a manageable level you are now ready for step three-analyzing the cause of the problem.
Really what takes place in step three is taking the time to analyze actions that were taken that resulted in there being a challenge or problem that you are now facing. This is can be accomplished by doing some type of cause and effect diagram that will give you the ability to visually comprehend what happened. Usually when we can clearly see where we went wrong we have that aha moment. Now that you have identified, defined, and analyzed the challenge or problem, what do you do now?
Here is where the real work begins because many people can tell you what their problem is but they have a hard time doing something to change their situation. Step four requires you to make a decision to do something by exploring possible solutions to the challenge. Niven (2005) suggest developing a strategy or plan that allows you to decide what you need to change to overcome the challenge or the problem. This step is an important step because it takes a desire to succeed to overcome the challenge or problem and no one can instill in you the desire to change.
This desire must come from within but will not happen until you make up in your mind what you want out of life, how you want your life to be, what you need to survive, and what it is you need to change to overcome your challenge or problem. Making the decision that you must change and that you have the power to make that change is difficult but can be the most rewarding thing you can do. In step five you will discover that after the decision is made that you want to change you can now actually decide to solve your problem.
This step will require deciding on your criteria for success, deciding what your goals will be, establishing priorities, defining objectives, and taking responsibility for improving your own life (Cohen, Jacobs, Quintessenza, Chai, and Ungerleider, 2007). The most important tool in this step is writing an action plan including the aforementioned elements along with your vision for your life, your mission in life, and your personal philosophy or strategy for living your life (Niven, 2005). This plan must be written in a manner that allows you to measure your progress toward overcoming your challenge or problem.
Part of your plan, for example, may involve getting a mentor, a person to serve as a role model, or setting up a support system (Cohen et al, 2007) by a certain date to fully implement your plan. Once you have established your plan you are ready to move onto the final step. The last step to overcoming challenges involves taking action . Implementation of your action plan will be the most critical part of you being successful in overcoming your challenge. This will require your total commitment, dedication, involvement and perseverance to achieve success. You ust remember that the best laid plans will not solve your problems if you do not do something to put them into motion, prepare yourself to deal with the unexpected, and be ready to make the little changes necessary to your plan to reach your goals. If you carry out the six steps of identifying the challenge or problem, defining the problem, analyzing the cause of the problem, exploring solutions to the problem, deciding to solve the problem, and taking action to overcome the problem (Pokras, 1989) you will begin to make progress to overcoming your challenges.