Laptop computer wont shut down

Recently I have been unable to shut down my IBM Thinkpad computer using the start menu. I tried pressing control/alt/delete and shutting down that way, but that also was unsuccessful. My computer has Windows XP. I am tired of having to press down the power button to shut down the computer. Please help!
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More about laptop computer wont shut down
  1. Exactly what does happen when you choose Shutdown from the Start menu or the Task Manager?
  2. At this point, I can click shutdown from the start menu...but then it takes a full minute or two before the actual shutdown menu pops up...then, once the menu pops up and I click "shut down", it takes another 2 minutes minimum before the computer actually shuts down. It just sits there saying "computer shutting down" for what seems like forever...
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