This is often one of the most difficult concepts to come to terms with when money is tight. In many ways it is one of the most easily demonstrated facts and yet so few people are able to put it to the test when creditors are chasing for payment.
When we are faced with financial challenges the most common tendency is to get out our chequebook, bank statements, and a calculator and to frantically begin adding up numbers. Here's why that doesn't help: it's impossible to solve financial problems with money.
One of the fundamental differences between people who consistently attract money and opportunities and those who struggle to make ends meet, is that when faced with financial challenges the people who work effectively with money never fix their attention on money.
For them financial challenges are the signals to put their creative imaginations to work. They absolutely understand that solutions can never be found by looking at the dry circumstances of a problem. Instead, their methodology is to use their creative imaginations to crack open problems and thereby find the opportunities inside. They also see problems as a signal to do something different because they understand that if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting.
So often, when we are in a financial scrape we keep on digging in the same place. We may start working longer hours only to wind up more exhausted and surprisingly still overdrawn. Many start examining their expenses and searching for ways to cut back on essential items. When I was a kid my dad would run around the house turning off the lights to save money, and we would all sit there in the dark. Not surprisingly it only served to keep him focused on his problems with money.
And this is where we run slap bang into our old adversary, fear. What I've just told you above is a valuable piece of information, but there's more to it (that's why I added that it was only half the story). The thing is, having this information doesn't necessarily mean that you will be in the correct state of mind to employ your creativity. And this one single fact makes all the difference to your situation and its solution. It can render the above advice - as good as it is - practically useless.
As we have already explored, when we are experiencing large amounts of fear and anxiety around money, our brains actually shut down our ability to respond to situations both creatively and logically. For all intents and purposes our money problems are interpreted as a real physical threat.
Unfortunately, the truth is that people who take problems as a signal to be more creative are few and far between. Most of us don't respond to problems in this way, and we can't wave a magic wand and turn into a different person. Telling someone to be more creative when they are in crisis is a fantastic way to end up with a black eye. I can testify to this. I remember once telling my wife to think more creatively when she was in a panic about money: the plate she was holding at the time narrowly missed my head.
The fact is that when we most need to be creative we are often least able to be so. Therefore the single most significant thing you will ever do to transform you financial situation is to find ways to stop the fear response dampening your ability to use your creative imagination. You can have the best practical advice in the world, but without the ability to use that advice in a creative manner - and in a manner appropriate to your particular situation - you will continue to experience problems.
Understanding that we can't solve financial problems with money, I am going to add a very special ingredient to help you utilize this great piece of advice. Now, when we are feeling stressed the tendency is to shut ourselves off from people. We more often than not suffer in silence and try to sort things out on our own. There is still far too much stigma attached to money problems in our society. But there is a wonderful piece of information that may help you put things into perspective.
A few years ago I met a senior executive who worked for one of the major UK banks. She told me quite openly that if they never loaned money to people who'd experienced financial problems they would have very few clients. In reality most people will experience difficulties with money at some stage in their life. It's much more common than we are led to believe.
Getting back to the special ingredient - just because you may not at this point be fully able to think creatively and see a way out of your situation, it doesn't mean that you don't have access to vast amounts of creativity. In fact, no matter where you are, people who are not in your situation and have access to their creative faculties constantly surround you.
So one of the first things you can do to get creativity flowing into your situation is to ask someone for their creative input. Now I'm not saying this will be the easiest thing to do, but think about it for a moment. It's a fact that people generally like to help and that by asking for their creative input to come up with a solution you are not asking them to become immersed in the problem. I've always found that when people reach out and connect in an honest and genuine way there is actually no end to the amazing gifts that come their way.
You may just ask if they can think of a few ways that you can use your skills to generate some extra income for just a few hours work. Think about someone that you respect or that you know has successfully traversed some difficult situations. They don't have to be a Mastermind champion or a member of Mensa. Ordinary people like you and I are full of creativity. One of the most surprising things that you will discover is that the universe can actually support you. So often, we miss out by not reaching out.
One woman I advised to do this was very reluctant to ask others for help; however, the very first person she asked had been through the same problem with her business only a few months ago and gave her a brilliant idea. The person with the problem was delighted and the person who helped her out was also delighted. This doesn't mean that you have to act on all the creative input, but you will, without any shadow of doubt, successfully start to crack open the problem and definitely start to expand your options.
So you see, it's one thing to be someone who thrives on being creative around problems, but equally effective to be someone who knows how to gain access to plenty of creativity when not feeling particularly resourceful.
You can't solve financial problems with money. That is the secret, but a valuable piece of advice is: don't suffer alone and in silence; reach out and ask for creative input.
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