Our desire to be challenged is a basic human drive. We may refer to this as a growth opportunity or learning mindset. And it’s why we may find ourselves gravitating to games and brainteasers on the internet. Not only is it a challenge for us, but we can also compete with friends and family, satisfying another human need for connection.
So often, when we want to accomplish ambitious goals, we may feel like we don’t have the time, energy, expertise or room in our lives to tackle something so big and scary. Maybe we are afraid, but perhaps it’s something else entirely. A lack of bandwidth belief can be a sneaky cause of procrastination. It’s not the same as overwhelm…although it may feel like it.
Getting to that next level in our life or career can often require learning new skillsets or adopting new habits. So why are we pushing the brakes rather than embracing this new opportunity?
There are several possible reasons, but bandwidth belief rarely gets discussed. For example, one reason for procrastination is that we don’t believe that we have the bandwidth or capacity to pursue a lofty goal, so we don’t even start.
There are many ways to overcome overwhelm and learn how to add more time to our busy days through automation, delegation and deletion of the activities we don’t need to do. But how do we solve for bandwidth if there’s nothing left to automate, delegate or delete?
Speaking from experience, it’s likely that we could clear a few more things from our plates, but we may enjoy these activities, and it may not free up significant time resources in the short term. In contrast, freeing up bandwidth requires us to think differently.
Here are three questions to help you think differently, start to free up bandwidth and accomplish that big, scary, ambitious goal of yours.
1. What skillsets would I need to learn or get better at to accomplish this goal more quickly?
While we may not have the bandwidth for that big goal, final outcome or end result, we may have the bandwidth to start to tackle and learn pieces of the puzzle. Maybe we can spend an hour per week or 10 minutes each day learning a new language so we can get that promotion or take that dream vacation a year or two from now. Over one year, ten minutes a day is equal to 3,650 minutes which equals 60 hours, or two and a half days. If the average person spends an hour each day scrolling mindlessly on social media, surely we can find 10 minutes to improve a skillset that is important for our future.
Brainstorm a list of these skillsets and start tackling them one at a time. Pick those that will add more fun to your day or create meaningful connections with friends and family, and it will be that much easier to accomplish this mini-goal!
2. How would my perfect day, week, and month look and feel?
Yep, time to daydream!
This is the perfect question to ponder as you walk the dog, drive to work or enjoy your coffee on a lazy weekend morning. Think this one through; visualize your days, how you want to feel and anything else you wish.
This simple activity can free up more mental space to see your dream more clearly, how it would positively impact your life and even create some breathing room amidst the chaos of busy days.
3. What’s a new belief I could adopt to get me closer to my goal or that would help me achieve my goal?
One powerful belief I’ve had to adopt is to remind myself that “I don’t have to do it all.” And a mentor of mine had a mantra stating, “Your lack of preparation does not make it my emergency.” So good, right?! When people need something last minute, and their lack of planning caused this emergent need, that doesn’t mean you have to say “yes” to the request or drop everything right now. You can still accomplish what’s most important—even if it’s not urgent—and either delegate or get to this request as soon as possible.
Obviously this isn’t going to work in the middle of an emergency shift, but it may help plan that next meeting or remind you to say “no” to picking up more shifts when you prefer to attend your kid’s soccer game. These situations can be super hard in reality but very powerful when executed.
So what are those mantras, statements or beliefs you can adopt to free up more bandwidth and have a more enjoyable life journey?
There are so many high-performance habits that you could implement to free up bandwidth and be more productive; however, it’s also important to remember you don’t have to adopt them all. Instead, pick one or two that resonate and do them reliably each day. The wins will add up over time.
Remember how the British Cycling Team went from losing everything to winning the Olympics in just six years?1 They made everything 1% better, one thing at a time, until they were gold-medalists. Sometimes we need to think small, accomplish marginal gains and recognize that these small wins will add up to massive success over time.
Even just ten minutes a day of consistent daily action always wins over procrastination and hopes for a five-hour block of time to tackle that enormous task. You may not have the bandwidth for a five-hour project, but we often believe we have the bandwidth for just ten minutes a day. +
- How 1% Performance Improvements Led to Olympic Gold. (2015, Oct., 30). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2015/10/how-1-performance-improvements-led-to-olympic-gold