To problem solve you do not have to have any fancy sheet. It does not take an entire event with lots of people, in every situation. Let me preface saying that if you are solving the National Debt, then you need to put the problem into perspective. This has a lot to do with a circle of influence – so keep that in mind.
You must know:
Where you are: What is the current situation? Is it that you cannot pay your finances timely? Continue to have XYZ happen? Regardless, you must have a starting point. Be realistic, eyes wide open, and objective. Sugar coating where you are only makes the cloud that we will call the “gap” harder to navigate.
Where you want to be: What is your vision state? If you could wave that magical wand – what would your situation look like? Congratulations, you just set a goal and have something to go towards. This would be the “X” on the treasure map, if we were thinking in those terms.
The gap: This is the unknown. The work, sweat, thinking, path taking, hypothesis making, trial and error path to the goal. Some problems will chip away as you navigate the path. Some will make you think you are in a pirate map or a survivalist type game show. Take an idea that you have which will theoretically get you closer to the goal. Depending on how big your treasure is (the goal) you may need to travel through the gap repeatedly until the ideal state is achieved.
Example: I am broke. I want to save $500.00 a month. The gap would be all of the transactions that I take on a monthly basis which account for the net balance in my account to the goal; that may be $1500 or that may be $100. Now, I would evaluate them and pick one that I want to go after. I may cancel cable, cell phones, etc. until I get there, but I eventually will chip away the distance or clear up the cloud between the current and desired states. At some point, I may have to change tactics when the “low hanging fruit” are gone. I may have to look at picking up extra hours, or a 2nd job, or [place activity here].
The point is, with a defined current state, and knowing where you wish to go – you will be able to travel paths to get there. The time it takes will vary but that is your map to figure out.
If you need help – just ask me.