The Your Money or Your Life Teleclass is rounding the bend into the final week and our “lesson” last week was resourcefulness. I prepared a list called “10 Ways to Skin a Cat” that merits a blog post. I know, the image of “skinning cats” is political incorrect, not to speak of gruesome. However, it’s a folk expression and as such is imbued with great common sense. In some ways, our wealth and stuff have rendered us inept in the skills of daily life. We no longer know how to “make do” which seems like Depression Era poverty but is actually human creativity in the face of adversity.
So here’s the list, in little bite sized pieces. There’s a cool quote at the end.
1. Celebrate wins – what you appreciate (celebrate) appreciates (grows). Celebrating wins grows your resourcefulness, putting you in a positive and empowered state of mind. Amazing what appears when you relax into appreciation of what is.
2. Collect failures – Take as many “no’s” for an answer until you get a yes. Don’t argue with the “no.” Accept it as evidence that you are on the trail of a resourceful solution and others fainter of heart, having taken “no” for an answer, have quit.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”~~ Albert Einstein
“I’ve never made a mistake. I’ve only learned from experience.” ~~ Thomas A. Edison
3. Ask “Who sez? Question authority. Who sez someone who looks like you, who is your age or education or status or color or age or speaking your language is excluded from the resourceful? Who is that voice in your head? Who else in your life imposed limits on your imagination… and still exists as an authority? You can even say “who sez” when a living authority figure says you can’t. Say it with real curiosity. One strategy when “they” say “no.” Ask: “I understand your rules, regs, supervisors, customs, traditions, etc. say it is impossible, but imagining it were possible, how would it happen? If you could do it, how would you do it?”
4. “… or not.” Question assumptions. Notice that your theories about reality are just theories. Track assumptions as you speak and write. At the end of each assertion, say “…or not.” It is going to rain today… or not. I need 80% of my pre-retirement income for retirement… or not. We evolved from lower primates… or not. I’ll be decrepit when I’m in my 90s… or not. Note, some assertions may actually be true, but if you can’t entertain “or not” your capacity for resourcefulness is less.
5. Widen the frame. Perhaps the solutions you seek exist outside your frame of looking, like the guy who looked for his key under the lamppost because that was where the light was, not where he dropped it. Three frames to expand:
- Time – Imagine you could make the decision in a week. Or a month. Stand a year or two or five out and imagine you solved the problem. Celebrate and then tell the story of how you solved it.
- Inclusion – Expand the circle of we, the people you are willing to have involved in the solution or the range of acceptable solutions. When you say in your mind “I could never…” assume that’s a viable solution. Imagine someone else will solve the problem happily or has what you need.
- Expand allies – Ask, “In whose interest is it that I succeed?” Let people not just help you but actually take over solving the problem.
6. Sharing – www.shareable.net is a fabulous resource for strategies for sharing rather than owning resources. Remember, it doesn’t have to be yours for you to benefit. Also http://sharingsolution.com. The commons – air, water, libraries, local schools and colleges – are here for all of us. Does your solution live in the commons? A resource shared halves the price and doubles the number of people who will take care of it. Start a tool swap in your neighborhood. Share your car or house. Check out www.airbnb.com for ways to make money renting your guest room or house. Being possessive about your ideas or stuff is sooooo 20th century. We now know that everything is a remix, few of us actually discovery brand new knowledge for humanity. Creativity is in the remix. As Kevin Kelly says, “Ownership often sucks. You have to keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and in the case of digital material, backed up. And in this mobile world, you have to carry it along with you. Many people, me included, will be happy to have others tend our “possessions” by subscribing to them.”
7. Chill: He who hesitates may be a winner! – Think on it. Sleep on it. Delay gratification. When someone wants your time and attention, ask, “By when do you need an answer?” Stop eating when you are 80% full. Wait 24 hours between seeing a major purchase (over your impulse spending limit) and see if you still want it. Use half the amount of stuff – toothpaste, laundry soap, water – and see if it is plenty. If not, use more until you have just enough.
8. “…3, 4 and 5” If you feel between the devil and the deep blue sea, if you have only two options and neither is what you want, ask, “Is there another way to get what I want? What is one more thing I can try?” Multiply your options. Reject nothing out of hand. Until you have 5 options, you don’t have any.
9. Form vs. Essence – we mistake form (a thing) for essence (the value or use of the thing). For example, form would be a car, essence is mobility. When you look at essence, you can see that there are many ways to satisfy that need or value. Bicycle, car, carpooling, bus, walking, hitchhiking, renting, skateboarding, Segway. Form could be a marriage, essence could be love, security, intimacy. How many other ways can you meet these needs beyond finding Mr. or Mrs. Right and tying the knot? Friends, pets, family, pen pals, clubs… . Manfred Max Neef calls that distinguishing between Needs and Satisfisers (that which can satisfy the need). Try this with job when the need is income to meet material needs. Job is only one way, but there are multiple streams of income (passive like interest), turning a hobby into a side business, frugality (a penny saved is a penny earned), investments, etc.
10. Hidden in plain sight – is what you need right in front of your nose but you have labeled it something else. Is a cooking pot a rice cooker, slow cooker, water-bath canner? See how many uses you can find for common household items. What is something very similar to what I need that might also work? Or do you have an outdated value that blocks you finding what you need right at hand. Is “nothing to wear” really that you think you can’t wear the same dress to two functions?
The amount of satisfaction you get from life depends largely on your own ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness. People who wait around for life to supply their satisfaction usually find boredom instead. – Dr. William Menninger