Dreams, goals, plans, actions and problem solving
You may have a dream of a better life. That dream will not happen by itself. You will need to set some goals, make plans and take actions. You take these goals from your dream. You make your plans based on these goals. Your plans dictate your actions. None of this happens by itself. You wish to move to where you are now to where you want to be. Your problem is figuring out how to achieve your goals. I will set out a basic problem solving methodology with an example.
How to define a problem
Define your problem as clearly and concisely as possible to ensure the problem has been clearly identified. Try to restrict your definition to one sentence. If you can’t define your problem clearly then it is very unlikely that you clearly understand the problem.
The definition of the problem should indicate your objectives. The objectives must be clear, concise and achievable. You need objectives to direct your actions, prioritise your efforts and to provide measures of performance.
How to prepare to resolve a problem
Gather information which is relevant, reliable and adequate. Relevance is estimated by reference to the objectives. Reliability is a matter of validation. Adequacy is a matter of judgement however you should have enough information to assess the pros and cons. This is the information needed to formulate your plans.
Next, identify the resources needed to implement your plans. Identify the constraints that make it harder to implement plans. Prepare your plans and then take action. It is the actions that will resolve your problem. You will need to deal with difficulties along the way. You may need to modify your plans and even your goals. Do you best and good luck.
Pulling goals out of your dream
Let us assume you dream of greater financial security, It follows that you will need more money to invest. There are only two ways of getting more money:
- Earn more
- Save more from your income
Now we are starting to get somewhere. This website is full of ways to save more. Let’s look at ways to earn more. To do that you need to find a way to earn more. I started this website with the goal of earning more by selling a book on budgeting. I will use the creation of this website as my example in this article.
Your first step is to find an achievable goal. My goal for this website didn’t just emerge by itself. I didn’t think of myself either. A man asked me for budgeting advice. I gave him that advice and he started saving at a good clip and that will change his life. I realized that budgeting advice is very valuable but I did not know how I would make money from giving such advice.
Another man read something I wrote and persuaded me that I could write explanatory material to make a dollar. It occurred to me that I could write about budgeting. I didn’t know where I would sell this advice.
One evening I was flicking through a magazine a chanced upon an article on blogging. Bingo. I could find customers on the net. That is how my goal was extracted from my dream.
How I used problem solving to start this website
I began by defining my problem. I defined my problem as “I wish to make money by selling a budgeting book from a blog”.
My definition tells me that my goals are to write this book and start a blog. This, in turn, tells me the steps I need to take to reach my goal of selling a book on a blog. This divides the work into manageable parts. Those steps are:
- Write the book
- Start the blog
- Write articles, and put them on the blog
- Generate traffic so people can see my articles
- Find a way of selling my book and receiving the proceeds
The difficulties can also divided into manageable parts. The difficulties I identified were:
- I have never written a book
- I know nothing of writing articles
- I had no idea how to start a blog
- I know nothing of Search Engine Optimisation to help search engines find me
- I know nothing of social media apart from an elementary knowledge of Twitter
- I had no idea how to sell things on the Internet (I had made one purchase on the Net)
- My IT skills are abysmal
- The risk of sinking money into a venture that might fail
All I needed to get started were time and Internet access, and I had that. It was time to get started dealing with these difficulties.
A blog is a website with articles on it. I started by writing an article and promptly encountered my first difficulty. The dreaded “writers block”. I looked around for advice and came up with “just spew it out onto the page and sort it all out by redrafting”. I did that and creating a meandering mess on some sheets of paper. Writers block was thus resolved. I had ideas and starting points for articles. I wrote several articles while looking up information on how to start a blog. I was still thinking about how I would tackle writing the book. Meanwhile I was getting writing practice with my articles.
I also wrote a few articles exploring creativity and the evolution of ideas. I wrote them to help me find ways to get the ideas I needed for this blogging project.
I am continuing to work on my writing skills. My old articles are not broken up by headings or pictures and look like a wall of text. I noticed other website articles have more visual appeal so I am now breaking up my articles by headings just like I did with this article. This breaks the article into bite sized pieces and should be easier to read.
Starting my website
I simply googled “how do I start a website”. I found WordPress and Wix hosted free websites. I just started the website without further ado. I would muddle through and learn as I went. I figured out how to get my articles on to that website. I also made a total mess of it all. I deleted that website and started again. I had wasted a bit of time and learnt the basics. That seemed satisfactory.
I learnt that a free WordPress website is almost invisible to search engines so there was no traffic. I tried using Twitter to get some traffic. I wasn’t getting Twitter followers so traffic remaining close to zero. I found an article on how to obtain Twitter followers. I followed that advice and now have thousands of followers. Most of them seem to be following me to get a followback. I am now getting a low level of traffic from Twitter and exploring ways to get more.
Selling on the Internet
I found a payment gateway called gumtree that allows me to sell. I set up a Paypal account to receive the funds from gumtree. I now have a hyperlink on my website that can be clicked if a visitor wants buy my book. I am still trying to figure out how to install some sort of nice button or icon to replace that hyperlink.
I now have a book available for sale on a website. I shall continue to work on improving my articles, the appearance of my website and increasing my traffic. And I am now thinking of generating further funds by way of affiliate marketing. I had not heard of affiliate marketing when I started this website.
Search engine optimization
I am now thinking of moving to a web host so my website will become visible to search engines. That means I need to do more research into search engine optimisation.
The cost of this project
So far, I have not spent a single cent on this project. You may see and judge the state of this website and my twitter account for yourself. You do the same without spending a cent. You can then review your progress and decide whether you would be willing to spend money on things like web hosting. I am now deciding whether I should spend on such things. In other words, I am figuring out whether I really can turn a dollar blogging. (And I am being somewhat indecisive).
I have had many difficulties along the way. The difficulties were resolved. There are more difficulties to come. They will be resolved. I will keep learning and I will continue.
PS Any comments, feedback or gratuitous advice would be much appreciated.