Gorbachev was the youngest leader the Soviet Union ever had. He was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in March 1985. The country had suffered a lot in the last few years. So as Gorbachev came to power he had to find new solutions and new steps forward to get on further within the country. Many problems that had to be discovered where just overseen by the last leaders.
The first problem I want to mention is the rapid turnover of leaders before Gorbachev came to power. No leader had the chance to change something or to realise their proposals. They were too old to see the need for change and died shortly after their election. But not only the former leaders of the USSR were too old, many of the Party members where over 65! Some of them where old, loafer and sometimes corrupt and incompetent. Gorbachev tried to replace them by young, ambitious and more able man and those who are opened for new changes.
Actually at the beginning of the 1980s the USSR seemed to be in a strong position in the world, but as R. Reagan became the new American president this changed slightly. He increased the amount of money spending on the military, so the USSR wanted to compete with the US and spent a lot of money to defence, weapons and military. That was their damage, they spent too much of its national income on it and so in the final analysis was not enough money left for the living standard for the citizens of the USSR. When Gorbachev came to power he knew that the USSR spent 25% more on weapons and defence system than the US, he wanted to decrease the spent on weapons and defence, because out of it the people of the USSR had a Third World standard of housing, health, transport and living standard in general.
Another problem that had occurred before the reign of Gorbachev was in Afghanistan where Soviet troops had attacked to stop the civil war. It led to the death of 15000 Soviet troops.