01/14/2014 05:15 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2014

I Know It's Not Easy -- But, Don't Give Up! Problem-Solving Solutions

This week's article is going to concentrate on following your heart and your dreams and taking steps to make them happen.

Too often we have something deep inside our heart, something we may feel is our mission for being put on this earth, that we don't believe we can make happen. Perhaps it is a relationship or family issue we'd like to see come to fruition. Perhaps it's owning a house. Perhaps it's finishing school. Or, __________________ (you can fill in the blank).

Today I'm going to encourage you that, even if you don't believe it is ever going to be possible, not to give up.

"Doreen, listen to me... I've tried. It didn't work out. It really is just impossible," you say?

I don't believe anything is truly impossible.

We sometimes just have to have the courage to take the first step. And, truly, it can be the smallest baby step. Sometimes we might even need to go back to the drawing board and start over from scratch, or we may need to be creative and find a different way to make it happen.
Remember the old saying, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again?

So, let's get started!

Let's work on setting a goal and breaking it down into a plan so you can get going...


I just finished a book entitled How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything Yes Anything! by Robert Ellis, Ph.D., and I really liked the way he broke emotion out from problem solving. You see, (and if you really think about it you will), emotion takes over and then gives that little voice that "shoots us down" power to think we can't do it.

The following is a problem-solving exercise Dr. Ellis included on page 100 of his book that can be applied to anything we're trying to accomplish. I believe it can help be a guide for you, or anyone, to start problem solving so you can achieve your dream. Again, take note that you have to REMOVE your emotional baggage as it relates to the problem. You have to get rid of that "voice," the negative thinking, the emotion, when you're trying to plan to make a change. I know it's really hard to remove yourself from that voice, as I know it's there all the time telling us stuff, but I hope you will try.

So, here it goes!

Dr. Ellis suggested starting with these problem-solving skills -- note that, in the example, the "problem" he used was getting a job:

State a problem as clearly as you can. For example:

• What shall I do to get a good job?

• What step had I better take first?

• What steps shall I take next?

• Who should I consult about getting a good job?

• Can any of my friends possibly help me?

• What kind of a resume -- or several resumes -- shall I write?

• How can I get help with my resumes?

• Shall I let my past employers know I am looking, to be fully sure they give me good references?

• What shall I do to have better job interviews?

• Et cetera.

Dr. Ellis then suggested writing good problem-solving questions and then an outline -- on paper, with your answers. He further recommended to make a plan and -- here's the hardest part -- act on and implement the ideas and push ourselves to follow the plan.

Is this work? Is this effort. Yes! Absolutely. However, think of how you will feel and what will happen if you do not take that first step to make that change, to solve that problem, and to move ahead with your dream.

This problem-solving guidance is really easy to understand, and I believe it can be applied to anything: Losing weight, getting a job, starting a business, finding the love of your life... you get the idea!

What is in your heart?

What is your dream?

When are you going to start?

I suggest sitting down for a few minutes and start writing those questions and your plan.
Good luck, and keep me posted on how you are doing!

With much love,

Reference: Ellis, Albert. "Solving Reality Problems." How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything--yes, Anything. NY: Carol, 1988. 100. Print