In Math, specifically Algebra, there is a process known as “solving for X”, which X is an “unknown” value being sought. Similar to Algebra, Life has unknowns that are referenced by a variety of names i.e. decisions, crossroads, problems, issues, etc. to name a few. The interesting thing about Algebra and Life is we spend a decent portion of time in each solving for “X”. There is not one person on the planet that has not solved for “X” whether in the classroom of school or the classroom of life, we all have had to apply some Algebra to our lives.

The funny thing about Algebra is there are often a couple of ways to arrive at an answer. Life, like Algebra, there are also a couple of ways to arrive at an answer. Arriving at answers in Life, like Algebra, often requires knowledge, attention to detail, experience, and persistence.

Often times when learning Algebra, you have to do similar types of problems over and over to finally understand that there is a process of solving various types of algebraic problems to produce a correct result. For instance, when solving problems with one unknown or “X”, the first step is to make sure you know what you are solving for, the next step is to decide how you are going to corner the variable by either addition or subtraction, then you need to group the like terms on each side of the equation, then you will need to decide how to get “X” by either multiplication or division.

The process of solving this type of problem is unfailingly always the same. Using the process to solve the following problem: 8x +16 = 24 produces

Step 1 : Understand that you are solving for x in the equation 8x+16=24

Step2: Corner x by using subtraction. Subtracting 16 from both sides of the equal sign, the equation now changes to 8x +16 -16 = 24 – 16

Step3: Group the like terms together 8x +0 = 8 which results in 8x=8

Step4: Solve for x, in this example 8x=8, we divide both sides of the equal sign by 8 which results in x =1

Certainly, trying to overlay the process of solving Algebra problems to that of a Life problem is a HUGE over simplification. The intent of showing the process of solving an Algebra problem, shows us Life has a process of solving problems and everyone has their own way of solving for “X”. An example of a process model solving for a life problem “X” is a follows:

Step 1: Understand what problem you are trying to solve

Step 2: Identified your options in how you are going to corner x by adding or subtracting both side of your life equation to keep balance

Step 3: Group your like terms together

Step 4: Solve for x

Step 5: Take action

Again, there are a variety of problem solving methods and how you choose to tackle life’s “X’s” is dependent on first recognizing there is a problem which requires a solution, using a process model to arrive at a solution, and knowing who and when to ask for help.

Another approach for solving for life’s X’s ….answer the questions may increase you opportunity for better decisions…

- What is the problem?
- What do you want to achieve or change?
- What are your options?
- What are your best and worst outcomes based on the options?
- What options should you select?
- Take action on your selected options
- Review what worked and what didn’t?

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