Is it ever beneficial to decide on a meditation topic before beginning to meditate? For example, say I want to deal with a specific problem in my life, e.g. hatred towards a specific person, cravings for food, stress about my job, etc -- something I'm aware of as an ongoing, personal problem that I want to deal with proactively rather than to merely observe it when and where it pops up.
Is it a good idea to plan and say, "ok, during this meditation session, I'm going to think about problem x," and then proceed to meditate on that subject? Or is it better to begin with breath meditation and to observe thoughts as they develop naturally.
How should one ideally structure such meditation so that it remains controlled, calm, objective, and appropriately focused?