The people who really know about these things are pretty united in agreeing that what I call resourcefulness is one of six key strengths that can keep you and me psychologically strong.
More scientifically, psychologists label it “environmental mastery,” describing it as having the competence to meet the needs of your situation.
I do rather like the alternative term resourcefulness, however – defined in my dictionary as “the ability to find … ways to overcome difficulties.”
The phrase environmental mastery feels less clear to me.
For some reason I can’t help thinking of someone doing a rain dance or having the ability to put the brakes on global warming.
When I reflect on my own resourcefulness, I sense that I’m strong in some areas, but decidedly weaker in others.
Perhaps you’ll have a similar view of your own abilities?
Allow me to describe a couple of examples from my own experience, so you can see where I’m coming from.
Let’s begin with something I’m good at. Grocery shopping rarely seems a problem for me.
Although I couldn’t exactly rustle up a four-course dinner at the drop of a hat, my cupboards and fridge generally have the essentials in stock, which I top up seemingly effortlessly.
So we can check that cereal box.
What about my weaknesses, though?
Well, recently I’ve been struggling to put together what is effectively a slide presentation about the app I’m currently developing.
I’ve collected some of its content, but something is stopping me sitting down to actually do the work.
If it’s helpful – and it was to me – I recently thought about barriers and motivations in terms of my own resourcefulness.
A barrier is something that stops you finding a way to overcome a challenge, while a motivation is the carrot that drives you to action.
Like so many aspects of life, I think it’s all about balance.
There will always be barriers, just as there will always be motivations, but action only becomes relatively frictionless when one considerably outweighs the other.
I think my ease with grocery shopping is relatively easy to explain.
I enjoy food, and also like knowing I can provide it to someone who visits: so there’s my motivation.
The supposed barrier (remembering to go shopping, and actually doing it) is trivial in comparison.
My reluctance to tackle this slide presentation, however, is harder to get my head around.
The motivation seems reasonably straightforward.
When I have a presentation about the app’s potential, I can use it to persuade others to back it, hopefully, or work with me.
And this would be good.
What causes me to scratch my head, though, is when it comes to identifying the barriers.
It’s difficult for me to even think about this (let alone actually write about it, as I’m doing right now) but it’s possible I’m aware that when I finish the presentation I’m actually going to have to, you know, show it to someone.
And I think I’ve somehow got it into my subconscious that this ill-defined someone will be scary, intimidating, and hostile.
This is, of course, a catastrophically negative way for me to view things, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there may be more than a grain of truth to it.
So here’s what I’ve thought of doing.
In order to address this barrier, maybe I can reframe my motivation?
Instead of worrying about presenting my document to Elon Musk (just kidding, of course) how about agreeing with myself that I’ll share it with someone who could be helpful without also making me feel like Daniel in the lion’s den, or Lionel in the Dragon’s Den.
I could also commit to a specific date and time to share it.
To me (and only just now) this seems like it would be a useful strategy.
So, that’s me sorted out, then. Well, hopefully.
More importantly, maybe you’ll now identify a specific part of your own life, in which you’re not being quite as resourceful as you’d choose.
It could be helpful to begin by recognising a strength first, though, so you don’t get too disillusioned.
When you do focus on a specific weakness, one is a fine place to start – please don’t try to tackle your entire life in one complicated chunk.
Maybe have a think about what your real barrier is.
What’s truly stopping you achieving this action that you want, or need, to complete?
Once you have a clearer picture, it may be possible to create a new motivation, one that works better for you.
A simple example might be someone who wished to start going to the gym, but who identified that his barrier was being super self-conscious about feeling embarrassed and out of place when he went there (his imagination had told him that everyone else would be toned and trim, even though that’s almost certainly a misconception).
Resetting his motivation, however, might involve asking a friend if they’d join him on a long walk once a week, therefore combining exercise and good conversation, while also avoiding those imaginary lycra-clad gym bunnies.
Making the most of your life means managing your life (better).
How could you start making that happen?
Right, I think it’s time for me to ask the person who isn’t Elon Musk if he’ll agree to become my Mr. Motivator.