How to Be Resourceful

Four Parts:Developing SkillsAnticipating ProblemsAssessing the SituationSolving Problems

Life doesn't always hand us solutions to go with the problems we encounter. If you're in a pinch, sometimes all you need is a bit of creativity to get through it. Being resourceful means solving problems with what you have and doing more with less. Here are a few general suggestions on how to be resourceful.

Part 1
Developing Skills

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    Keep an open mind. Redefine what is and is not possible. You have unique talents that you can leverage to fulfill goals right now. Considering new possibilities is critical to taking action that will lead to success.
    • Being open-minded means you are willing to find value in the people, events and things you come across. Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, views, suggestions and experiences. Recognize that you can learn from things that are new or different. When you can think outside of the box, you can come up with innovative solutions to problems that others can't.
    • Say, “Yes, I can do this,” and push yourself to do what others might think is impossible. This is how people attain success when others give up on their dreams.
    • Get out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. If you have never been to a different country, tried a certain food, learned another language, tried to write a book or gone skydiving, then do it. You may discover something along the way that makes your life better and helps you solve a problem.
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    Be confident.[1] You are capable of handling any problem. You already have everything you need to solve it—you! Recognizing that you are competent and adequate enough to do something is the first step to actually getting it done.
    • Self-confidence means you like and trust yourself. Appreciate your talents, abilities and good attributes. Know that you can problem-solve and find solutions to challenges.[2]
    • Visualize being successful every day. When difficulties come your way, picture yourself overcoming them. Imagine accomplishing your goals and celebrating your successes.
    • Accept compliments and praise. Know that you deserve them.
    • Keep a diary of your successes. Write down your achievements every day. Soon you will fill the pages of this book and be able to see how much you have done. This will go a long way to help you realize you have earned the right to be confident.
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    Be creative. Resourcefulness is about optimizing what you have to work with. Creativity is not just about creating something new but making old things work better as well.[3] Think of crazy possibilities as well as practical ones. You might find inspiration for a workable solution in one of your ideas.
    • Think about how an experienced mechanic can do amazing things with after-market parts and a little ingenuity. The mechanic probably won’t follow a manual but can diagnose problems based on symptoms and decide what tools and materials they have on hand to fix the problem. Be like this mechanic in your situation.[4]
    • Let your mind wander. Don't stop yourself from thinking something because you think it is irrelevant. Often, your thoughts will move from one idea to another and then another. You may discover an Aha! moment or insight in one of these ideas.
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    Be proactive. Don’t put your dreams on hold because you’re waiting for the right resources or people to show up. If you let circumstances determine when and how you act, you will always settle for less. If an opportunity presents itself, do your best to take it. Don't overthink the opportunity or talk yourself out of it.
    • Be more than an idle observer. Participate actively and get involved. Being proactive means taking initiative so you can be part of any solution.
    • Don’t simply react to events, people, challenges and information. Engage and influence them so you can make real contributions to the situation.
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    Be persistent. If you stop trying before the problem is solved, then you haven't accomplished anything. Try again, a dozen or a hundred different ways, if that's what it takes.[5] Don't give up.
    • Think about what motivates you. Determine why you want to accomplish something and use that knowledge to drive you to finish.
    • Develop discipline. Many things will get in the way of your goal. If you practice discipline and make it a habit to do what needs to get done despite obstacles, you will reach your goal.
    • Never consider not succeeding right away as a failure – consider it practice, instead.
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    Be positive. There is almost always a solution to a problem. See the positive in every situation. Once you develop the right attitude, it is easier to find a solution.
    • Think of all the times you dealt with a crisis or difficult situation and the success stories that arose from those rough times. Know that you can get through it. This is the attitude resourceful people have when trouble comes their way.
    • Remember that each time you overcome a problem, you become a better and stronger person. Experiences teach us things that we can pass on to others who need encouragement.[6]
    • Improve yourself. Learn new things, and try to keep up with what is happening around you. Even when you become successful, learning continues and provides enrichment to your life. Learn to accept and encourage other people as well.[7]
    • If you have weaknesses, learn how to control or overcome them. You may not be able to manage a situation effectively if you do not know how to control your fears and weaknesses.
    • Read as many books as you can.
    • Go back to school and learn a new trade.

Part 2
Anticipating Problems

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    Be prepared. You can't anticipate everything, but you can predict many problems. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more resources you'll have when faced with a problem.
    • Build a tool kit and learn to use it. The more tools you have to draw on when met with a challenge, the more resourceful you can be. Depending on where you spend your time, the tools at your disposal could take the form of a true tool kit, or they could go in a purse, a survival kit, a workshop, a kitchen, an equipment truck or even your selection of camping gear. Learn to use your tools. Then, make sure you have them with you when you need them.
    • Practice at home. If you don't know how to change a tire, try it in your driveway before you get a flat miles away from home, in the dark, in the rain. Learn to pitch your tent in the back yard or take a short day hike to get used to your backpacking gear. Refine both your tool kit and your skills before you must put them to the test.
    • Anticipate likely problems and deal with them before they become problems. If you worry that you might forget your keys and lock yourself out, hide a spare key in the backyard. Attach your keys to something large and visible so you don't lose them. Coordinate with others who are coming and going so you don't accidentally lock each other out.
    • Practice being resourceful before the pressure is on. Try cooking a meal with whatever is on hand in the pantry rather than going out to the store. Invent what you need instead of buying it. Build or create your own, even if something is ready made and available.
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    Manage Your Time.[8] Your life is made up of time, and time is a limited resource. If you have time, use it for something productive. Make each moment matter so that it contributes in some way to your end goals.
    • Depending on the situation you need to overcome, you may need to work longer hours, ask for more time, enlist the time of others, or implement temporary measures while you can develop something more permanent.
    • Minimize distractions and interruptions. If you can control the things that get in the way of your goal, limit them. There is a time for work and for play. Remember to do both and focus on what you are doing at the time. Don't take phone calls or chat while doing work. Turn off the TV. Likewise, don't let work stress seep into your time out with friends and family.
    • Remember to be patient. Time is important but some things take time to happen as well. Ask the patience of others.
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    Communicate to others. Decide whether there is someone you could contact who might know the answer, be able to solve or lend a hand for a certain problem before it happens. Talk about possibilities ahead of time. Imagine scenarios with knowledgeable or experienced people and brainstorm solutions with limited resources.
    • Human contacts can be collected as a resource in advance. Networking, formal or informal, is one way to create that collection of resources.
    • If possible, offer others favors before you need to ask for any yourself. Engage with others and really get to know and help them when they need it. This will increase the chance that someone will be there for you.
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    Make money. Money can be a powerful asset in some situations. If you don't have money and you need it, being resourceful may consist of thinking of creative ways to raise or earn it. Also, consider solving the problem without money as well.
    • Ask people for money. Offer to do something in return so that the money is earned. You can hold a fundraiser if you are seeking to raise money for a good cause.
    • Get a job. Earning regular money is important to having a steady source of this resource. Look at the skills you have and see if you can apply them to any open positions in your area. Search online sites such as or LinkedIn for jobs that match your qualifications. Also, search your local newspaper's classified section for places that are hiring. If there is a certain position or company you want to work for, look at their website or go in and ask what open positions are available.
    • Go back to school. This may be a longer route to obtaining money but if you're end goal is to earn a decent salary, then this may be the best option for you.

Part 3
Assessing the Situation

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    Evaluate the situation. When a challenging situation comes your way, try to clarify and define the problem as best you can. It is easy to get overwhelmed by emotion, confabulate the problem and lose sight of solutions. When you can determine what the real issue is, you can come up with a plan to improve it.
    • Think about the problem. How severe is it? Is this truly a crisis or merely an inconvenience or a setback? Does it need to be addressed immediately, or can it wait for an appropriate solution to be developed? The more urgent the situation, the more creative you'll have to be.
    • Ask yourself what the nature of the problem is. What is really needed? For instance, do you need to unlock the door, or do you need to get in or out? These are two different problems, since the latter might be accomplished by passing through a window, by climbing over or under a wall, by going around the back way or by removing the hinge pins in the door. For that matter, do you need access at all, or could you get what you need somewhere else?
    • Don't panic. Pressure may be a good motivator, but not if it's clouding your thinking. Think about why you can't just give up on this and that will give you the edge for the persistence you need to succeed.
    • Finding a solution to the problem is better than worrying. This can be learned by training your mind to focus on solutions each time you start worrying. Calm yourself first, think clearly before taking any action.
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    Assess what is available to you. Being resourceful is, above all, about being clever and finding creative use of your current resources. Do you have access to, or could you obtain, anything that might help with the situation? Don't forget that resources aren't all objects—consider skills, people or emotional states as well.
    • Try working backwards. Take stock of what you have available, including objects, resources, knowledge, people and opportunities. Then consider how you can apply it to the problem.
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    Set goals. Resourceful people seek challenges to overcome, goals to achieve and a dream to work toward. Meet small daily objectives that add up to your larger dream. Over time, you will get closer and closer to making your dream a reality.
    • Keep in mind that every day is a chance for you to influence what you want your life to be.
    • Remember to be happy with the life you have now and recognize your progress. Your life today is important because no one knows what might happen tomorrow. Keep one eye on your goals but enjoy the here and now.[9]
    • Start small. Everyone starts with something, no matter how small. Small results will grow with time and continued effort. If its money you need, save what is available now as often as you can. Even regular smaller contributions will make a big difference a year later. [10]
    • Follow through. You won’t know how it’s going to turn out unless you see it through to find out what the results will be.
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    Pick out specifics. Thinking about the big picture can give you perspective—but sometimes you need to focus on details or steps instead. Decide what you can do in the short term so you can take action and be more productive. Revise specific tasks, roles and responsibilities toward your goals, such as simplicity, savings or risks.[11]
    • Seek information. Has somebody solved a similar problem before? How does the thing (or system or situation) work that you are trying to deal with? Which way is home from here? Whom can you contact, and how? What steps do you need to take to build a fire?
    • Researching and reading is very helpful. Keeping up with important events and information can help you in the future. Focus on something you find interesting or useful and look for different links that are related to the topic or idea so that you can master it.
    • Mine your own resources. Know the difference between seeking resources and being resourceful. When the tools and resources you need are within your reach, things tend to work out. Being resourceful means you make the most of the resources you can find.
    • Recognize that you don’t know it all. Be prepared to learn from others, even from someone you think wouldn’t know something you don’t.

Part 4
Solving Problems

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    Break the rules. Use things in unconventional ways or go against conventional wisdom or societal norms, if it will help. Be prepared to take responsibility, redress wrongs or explain yourself if you do overstep your bounds. Rules exist for a reason, but sometimes rules and tradition can hold back progress. Accomplish things, don’t just go along with how things have always been done. [12]
    • Never apologize for your success. The trick is to make sure that any infractions are insignificant compared to the benefit. There are going to be times when you should apologize, but do it only for true offenses.[13]
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    Improvise. Don't box yourself into thinking a certain way. Use what you can for a temporary solution and then look for a permanent solution. Fix your bike just enough so you can get home and properly fix it later.
    • Experiment. Trial and error might take a while, but if you have no experience with a particular situation, it's a very good way to begin. At the very least, you will learn what does not work.
    • Adapt. Nothing is written in stone when it comes to solutions. Look at other examples to get inspiration but make your solution fit your particular situation. Turn challenges into advantages.[14]
    • Don't be afraid to use objects in unconventional ways. Wire coat hangers can be incredibly flexible and while screwdrivers aren't really intended for chiseling, prying, pounding, scraping, etc., they'll often do in a pinch.
    • Don’t forget about the value of intangibles. Sunlight, gravity and good will can all act in your favor and can even be harnessed to your advantage.
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    Use situations to your advantage. There are negatives and positives to every situation. Try not to focus on what is wrong or bad about it. Look at the bright side and see what you can do right now with the positive aspects.
    • If you missed the bus and the next one doesn't come for another hour, can you enjoy a cup of coffee or browse a nearby store while you wait? If the weather is freezing, could you use snow as shelter or ice as a building material?
    • If you are afraid, use fear to motivate you. It will drive you to get out of a bad situation. Harness that energy to think of a solution and take action. Emotions can be strong incentives to do things better and more efficiently, so use them wisely.
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    Act quickly. Often an effective solution hinges on a speedy response. Be decisive, and once a decision is made, don't analyze–just act. You can’t solve a problem without taking some sort of action first.
    • Remember that not making decisions costs you, whether it results in lost earnings or revenue, a less than stellar reputation or career problems. Empty inboxes and desks that are not covered in piles of unfinished paperwork are signs of making quick decisions and taking action. When something comes your way, take care of it right away instead of letting it linger.
    • Making quick decisions about small matters is incredibly beneficial. Not only does it help you keep on top of everything sent your way, it also reduces stress, improves productivity and gives you a great reputation for managing your work. Let the positive aspects of quick decision-making be motivating factors for doing what needs to be done now.
    • Start somewhere. Putting off what you know needs to be done is not conducive to reaching your goal. Take the first step by initiating the action needed to finish that task. Then move on to another.
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    Learn from your mistakes. If you had to scramble to correct a problem, take steps to make sure that it doesn't happen again. If you tried something that didn't work, try it a different way next time. See what went wrong and go from there.
    • Play a few hands at once. Realize that sometimes your plan might not work out. Work on multiple angles for the same problem. Have a plan B and C ready.[15]
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    Ask for help. Recognize when you need help to complete your goals. Swallow your pride and seek out people who can assist with your problem. The more you show people that working with you will also help advance their goals, the more likely you'll succeed.[16]
    • Whether you need bus fare to get home, good ideas, moral support, the use of a phone or simply extra hands, involve others if you can. Even if you end up asking help of strangers, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by the results.
    • Brainstorming together may result in some great, joint solutions. Ask people you know and trust. Seek professional help. If it's appropriate, ask anybody in charge (authorities, employees, docents, ushers), since these people often have access to additional resources.
    • If one or two people are not enough, find out if you could form a team or task force. Could you persuade city hall or another organization to further your cause?


  • Don't dwell on the past. If the root cause or original problem is something you can't fix, simply work to recover as best you can.
  • If you've jerry-rigged something to get through an immediate difficulty, make sure to do a proper job of repairing it as soon as possible.


  • In case of a true emergency (an immediate threat to life or property), usually the best and most resourceful thing you can do is to summon the appropriate authorities, give them the information they need to do their jobs and then stay out of the way.
  • Make sure you know what you are doing. Otherwise, you could make a new problem entirely.

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