Identifying Problems That Interfere with Goals

After you set a goal and begin working toward it, you will inevitably be faced with a roadblock or two. You learned in Lesson 1 that you can't solve, or "troubleshoot" problems without first acknowledging them and that holds true for the problems that interfere with your goals. Some of these problems are foreseeable; that is, you can anticipate them before you even begin to work toward your goal. Others are unexpected and must be dealt with as they arise. Unexpected problems are usually easier to spot, and easier to solve, even though you have not prepared for them. Identifying foreseeable problems takes more work. You must honestly assess the goal you wish to achieve and think critically about what must be overcome in order to achieve it.

An example of a foreseeable problem may be found in Lesson 5, in which a goal-setting chart was presented. The goal is to get better grades, and the student notes that "too much socializing" and "poor study skills" are the problems in his way. Before he even begins to work toward achieving better grades, he knows what he must overcome or solve in order to successfully reach his goal. Note that both problems are probably not simple for the student to solve, as they require breaking habits and acquiring new skills. Socializing less means spending fewer hours with friends— not a desirable thing to do. Improving study skills involves finding and learning information.

Unforeseeable problems are typically inconveniences that get in your way as you work toward achieving your goal. For instance, you are doing some research for your boss and need a particular book from your local university's library. When you go to pick it up, you find that it is already checked out. Another example of an unforeseeable problem is technology hang-ups. Your computer could crash, or your printer could break down as you are trying to get a report done by a deadline. These problems are relatively easy to solve. In the first case, you have a number of possibilities. You can ask for the book to be returned, ask the library to check other libraries for the book, or even look for it at book stores if the price is reasonable. Technology problems might take an expert to fix, but in the meantime, you could find a temporary solution such as working from a backup disk on someone else's equipment.

Unexpected problems, by their nature, can't be planned for. You must simply figure out the best way to solve them quickly and thoroughly and then get back on your path. The rest of this lesson focuses on troubleshooting the first type of problem, because it is more complex, being more difficult to find and more difficult to solve.

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