Recognizing a Problem Practice Exercises (page 2)

Updated on Sep 19, 2011


How you answered depends on your opinions and life circumstances. If the economy is weak, with unemployment and prices of everyday goods high, you might rank the economy most important. If someone in your family is ill and struggling to pay medical bills, healthcare may be your top concern. But if crime is on the rise in your area, or the education system is shortchanging students, including you, you might rank one of those issues as most important.

Practice Exercise

You are planning a family vacation at a resort 800 miles from your home. Here are some of the details you will need to take care of:

  • purchase plane tickets
  • research restaurants in the area around the resort
  • make reservations at the resort
  • suspend delivery of mail and newspaper for duration of trip
  • find a pet sitter for your cats

In what order should you complete these tasks?

Which is most important?

Least important?


While there is room for various answers based on personal preference, here's the most common ranking by importance:

  1. Make reservations at the resort—many places are crowded and you run the risk of having no place to stay unless you take care of this detail first.
  2. Purchase plane tickets—you need to reach your destination, but if you can't get a flight, you might decide to rent a car.
  3. Find a pet sitter for your cats—this shouldn't be difficult, but you can't go on vacation without finding help for the cats.
  4. Suspend mail and newspaper delivery—a stuffed mailbox and piled-up newspapers are a sign to potential thieves that no one's home, but you can always call a neighbor after you get to the resort to ask for help if you forget to plan ahead.
  5. Research restaurants—you'll have plenty of time after you get to the resort to read local publications and ask resort personnel. That kind of advice will probably be better than what you can research from home.

Practice Exercise

Perhaps you find that your car needs a new muffler the day before you were going to take your air conditioner in to be repaired. You do not have the money to do both right now. Make a list of the reasons each repair is necessary, and decide which should be done first.

    Car Repair:
    Air Conditioner Repair:


Your lists will probably include many of the following:

Car Repair

  • car will be too noisy without a muffler
  • could be stopped by law enforcement and fined without muffler
  • can't drive car without muffler
  • need car to drive to work

Air Conditioner Repair

  • AC running inefficiently—wasting electricity
  • heat wave predicted for later in the week
  • have trouble sleeping without AC
  • live on fourth floor—too hot without AC

Conclusion: the car should be repaired first. While it may be uncomfortable without an air conditioner, you need your car to get to work, and that is your top priority.

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