1. What is the problem?
2. What is the cause of the problem?
3. What are all possible solutions of the problem?
4. What solution do you suggest?
The best example I have of using this process happened a couple weeks ago. The problem and cause of the problem were simple... I was feeling completely overwhelmed by our to-do list that we need to finish before Baby arrives in mid-November (e.g., get Tyler settled into his new room, put the nursery back in place, finish our basement bedroom, etc). As I had a meltdown (yes, even Dale Carnegie trainers have meltdowns from time to time, especially the hormonal ones!) on the phone with my mom one Saturday, she said something that struck me. "Marisa, why do you need to finish that bedroom before the baby arrives? You can move the bed into the space, put some rugs down, and it will be absolutely fine."
My mom's comment triggered me to have a conversation with Alan about the possible solutions to the problem of being overwhelmed:
1. We could try to line up time for Alan and his family to finish the basement bedroom in the next few months (keep in mind that Alan was already back in classes, his dad was approaching harvest season, etc).
2. We could hire someone to finish the basement bedroom (a.k.a., moolah).
3. We could hold off on finishing the bedroom until next summer and just make it as nice as possible for the moment.
We opted for #3 and it is the best decision we've made in awile! We bought a carpet remnant, moved all the furniture in, and even put a picture or two on the walls. Granted, the room is still two-toned and the ceiling beams are exposed but it will certainly serve our guests well as we welcome the baby.
And the decision preserved my sanity... and therefore, Alan's sanity, too.
Thanks, Mom, for the suggestion! Dale Carnegie would be proud!