The more answers to this question that you have, the better your opportunities for the future are. No one is going to give you their money or their time or their attention if you’re not giving them something in return for that money, time, or attention.
So, what do you have that others might want? Here are some possibilities.
Time Do you have the time available to solve the problem at hand? Here are a few thoughts on that subject.
How are you wasting time right now? All of us waste time in some respects. We do things with our time that aren’t really productive. The question is whether or not you’re willing to drop that time-wasting if something worthwhile raises its head.
If no opportunities are available, can you use some of your wasted time to build the things below? It’s easy to be burnt out sometimes and just want downtime, but many people succeed by using their downtime to improve their situation. If you want to actually have things that others might want, use your downtime to build up those things.
Skills Do you have knowledge or an ability that applies to the situation at hand? There are many skills out there, and the more skills you have, the more situations arise where you’re an asset to others. Here are a few.
Communication skills Put yourself in situations where your ability to communicate is challenged. Speak to a room full of people (like, for instance, a school board meeting). Talk to someone who doesn’t speak your language natively. Guide someone through a technical task. The more often you do these things, the better your communication skills will get.
Time management skills Bite off big projects with deadlines. Start a blog and commit to having a post appear five times a week, then learn what needs to be done to make sure those posts never miss their date. The skills you build in doing this are useful everywhere.
Education Have you taken schooling or training in a particular area?
Traits Are there innate aspects of who you are – not just skills, but personality traits – that have value? You can work on these, but these are often very hard to change and can be innate characteristics of a person. Here are a few (out of many) of those.
Patience Do you give up in frustration quickly if a task doesn’t unlock itself? Or do you stick with it for a while, trying different approaches?
An ability to listen Do you actually pay attention to what people are saying, or do you use the time when they’re going “blah blah blah” to formulate your next statement? (One of these is better than the other.)
Reliability When someone expects you to be at a place at a certain time or expects you to carry through on a basic task, are you always (or virtually always) able to do so? People often can’t judge their own reliance, so ask a friend for an honest take.
Self-direction If you’re given a complicated task, can you break it down into pieces and work through it on your own? Can you identify things that need to be done in a situation and do them without being told?
Equipment Do you have items that others might find useful? For example, I have a large snowblower sitting in my garage that’s incredibly useful in the winter months. My use of it has cemented a positive relationship with our neighbors.
Relationships Do you have a lot of positive relationships with a wide variety of people? Having positive relationships with someone in common is a spectacular way to open the door to a relationship with someone new, professionally or otherwise. Not only that, having an abundance of positive relationships out there in the community is something you can constantly tap.
Whenever you are faced with a challenge in your life, think of the assets that you have. Time. Skills. Traits. Equipment. Relationships. (And more, of course.) Ask yourself if any of these can really help you in this situation. You’d be surprised how often you can tug on an unexpected positive aspect of your life to end up finding work, cementing a relationship, or getting your foot in the door someplace where you didn’t expect.
When you need it, draw on what you have. When you don’t need it, build up what you have so that you can draw on even more later.