• Coach Elizabeth Brink

To Strategize or Not to Strategize?

The problem with problem-solving is our fixation on it. We're surrounded by productivity "experts" and boundless information on how to figure out anything. When you struggle to prioritize, boundless information can be a roadblock.


Challenges you might relate to:

  • Getting stuck at the identification step - sensitive nervous systems can mean we struggle to move past the discomfort to take action.

  • The obvious solution is hard to see/find (harsh self-talk slows us down).

  • Over-engineering is fun until you crash. Even if we find a solution that's working a little, we'll keep pushing for better.

On that note, it's hard to permit ourselves to stop reiterating or customizing anything we want. See that binary? I wholeheartedly believe people are capable of figuring things out for themselves, but that doesn't mean we have no support in place on the journey.



How do you coach yourself through strategizing?


The cornerstone of coaching is curiosity. A lot is revealed when we set down our assumptions and ask questions.


While writing this piece, there was some big machinery in my neighborhood making a terrible high-pitched sound. Once I noticed it, I could not think beyond, "dang that's so awful. How do people with tinnitus live?!"


So, I acknowledged I was stuck for a few reasons - I'm tired, I'm annoyed, and my brain kept reminding me of important tasks, that were not on the list. What did I do? Got on Instagram to complain, of course. This is a place I tend to get stuck - acknowledging the discomfort and getting grumpy. As I was sharing about the squeaky machine, I said I needed to find my earplugs. My brain served up the right solution for me as I ordered my thoughts through spoken words. Earplugs in and writing commenced.


Many of us process better when reflection is elicited from us and we have space to talk it out.

Do you know someone who talks to themselves? Do you talk to yourself? This is a great way to partner with yourself in problem-solving and processing stress.


Here's a simple framework for those who like to eliminate all ambiguity. This is not the only way to a solution, so take what's helpful and leave the rest. Customize it to your personal needs.


A Strategizing Framework

  1. Invite curiosity without judgment: What if I could be curious about my dilemma?

  2. Examine the issue: What do I know from problem-solving about the problem… about the potential solution? What do I not know? What worked in the past?

  3. Envision the after: How do I want to feel when a solution is in place? How will I know if it's working?

  4. Get specific: What can I try first? What will get in my way?

  5. Run the experiment!


Solutions FOR NOW


If very few systems are forever effective without any need for adjustments, then why do so many people claim to have the answer to conquering anything? There's no guarantee that a strategy is going to be the right one until you try it. In fact, we often need to iterate as we get more information from our experiments.


The next time a strategy works for you, try to tell yourself, "this strategy works… for now." Invite flexibility into your thinking from the start and you'll have an easier time pivoting later.


As you try things and learn more, you may find the original issue was not the root of the problem. You'll get smarter about yourself and be better able to keep making adjustments to find what works best for you… for now.


What if things that challenge you never changed? What belief is possible to hold about yourself?

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