Thursday, September 03, 2009

Recipe For Becoming A Faster, More Creative Problem Solver

By Regina Pacelli

Life comes at you pretty quickly and can sometimes leave you feeling like a deer caught in the headlights. But that doesn't need to be how it goes. You can nurture your ability to think on your feet and develop the ability solve problems more quickly and creatively. Below is a recipe for achieving that goal without causing you any indigestion.

Ingredient #1: Build Your Mental Muscle
Every day you make lots of decisions, large and small, and everywhere in-between. Take some of the less critical problems, decisions, or situations that need resolving that come up during the day and as quickly as you can, come up with as many possible choices/solutions as you can. Push your speed limit. Don't edit yourself. The goal is to come up with as many as possible as quickly as possible. This will help you build up your mental problem solving muscle. It's a muscle like any other and the same principle of 'use it or lose it' applies. Kind of like wind sprints for the brain.

Ingredient #2: Slow Down To Go Fast
Sometimes going too fast can actually slow you down. You can end up in blind alleys and make lots of false starts. Practice making your problem solving thought process more deliberate and relaxed, less scattered and hurried. When you slow down a bit, you allow your 'gut' (sub-conscious brain) to help you out. It's where your creativity lives. Give it some breathing room. This doesn't mean becoming a slow poke, just not giving your best imitation of a ricochet bullet.

Ingredient #3: Solve it Ahead of Time
When embarking on something new, whether it's buying a car, going to a party, going on a job interview, hiring someone to paint your house, or anything else, visualize potential scenarios that could possibly happen. Play them out in your mind, kind of like a movie, thinking through what you'd say or do. This way when that or a similar scenario possibly happens, you won't be taken completely by surprise. It may not be exactly what you had envisioned, but you've given yourself at least a jump start in figuring out how to handle it.

Ingredient #4: Be fearlessly Creative Daydreamer
Daydreaming is one way to help you become more creative. Go on an adventure of your choosing. Swashbuckler, mad scientist, avenger, pioneer. Take some time to let your mind wander and take you where it will. Be fearless. Be your most creative self and even more imaginative than that. Don't hold back. It's one fun way to give your creativity a little stretch and keep it flexible.

Mix these creative problem solving ingredients together, in amounts according to taste, and bake until done.

Regina Pacelli is the author of "Outsmart the Unexpected: Grow Your Creativity the Edge-of-your -seat Way". You can learn about it on her website:

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