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How to Promote Resourcefulness In Yourself and Others

How to Promote Resourcefulness In Yourself and Others

Being resourceful means knowing how to get the information and results you want. Being organized and having trusted systems are big pieces of the productivity puzzle, but sometimes “Getting Things Done” means being a creative problem-solver.

MacGyver

    Being MacGyver
    Many of you will recall the television show MacGyver, about a guy whom I consider The Poster Boy of Resourcefulness. Read a great list of MacGyver’s feats per episode. He routinely disarmed bombs with paperclips and used gum wrappers to fix fuses. How can we bring MacGyver’s ingenuity to our daily lives and work?

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    Ask yourself these questions:

    Is there another way to get what I want?
    Is the desired result really the best result?
    Who else has information that might help me?
    What is something very similar to what I need that might also work?
    Who is the expert in this area?
    What is one more thing I can try?
    What would someone I admire do in this same situation? (WWMD- What Would MacGyver Do?)

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    Don’t reinvent the wheel
    Look for a solution that someone else has already created. It might be a book, a software program, or someone’s existing checklists or procedures. You can learn almost anything from a book — I actually learned to juggle from reading “Juggling for the Complete Klutz” when I was in elementary school. If there is something I need my computer to do, I immediately think that someone else may have already written software to address it. You can find many elegant solutions this way by searching download.com and Palmgear.

    Leverage your network
    Build and maintain a network of people you can call on for questions and support, and make sure you make yourself available to these same people when they need help from you. New networking choices like LinkedIn can be invaluable for finding more avenues and options. People from various backgrounds, fields, industries, and even age groups can provide tremendous objective insights.

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    Learn everything you can about how to find information
    If you are reading this article on the web, you most likely know the basics of querying your favorite search engine. However, I am often surprised at how many people do not know Boolean search techniques such as AND/OR searches and other ways of narrowing search results. Here is a great page of explanations about advanced features in Google. Even in these days of online information, don’t forget your local library and even the librarian!

    Teach resourceful habits to your family and your team at work
    If your children want to know some information, teach them how to look it up themselves, and show them reference books other than just the dictionary. When your team members come to a meeting with a problem, make it part of your company culture that they are expected to also show up with a proposed answer to that problem. Make sure that initiative is encouraged.

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    Resourcefulness = Necessity + Creativity + Persistence
    If you’ve ever written information on a napkin or chased down some tickets to a sold-out concert, you can consider yourself resourceful already! We are all capable of exhibiting great creativity and persistence when something is important, so make it a point to expand and practice these skills.

    Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their home by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something useful, funny, interesting, and/or insanely practical every few days or so in her blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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