I can’t seem to find the mental bandwidth to improve in all of the areas of my life where I’d like to. My health suffers when I focus solely on my business. I feel like I’m not present enough for my kids when I spend more time exercising. I’m losing hope that I’ll ever achieve my full potential. What options do I have?
There are two points to consider here. First, the notion that balance will serve as a stabilizing force for you, and second, the enormous amount of effort we expend in achieving that balance. Everyone looks for it, but only a few, if any, find it.
Your use of the term “bandwidth” is both intriguing and instructive. Consider the internet bandwidth available in your home. It has a limit. What happens when that bandwidth is used up? Your streaming slows down, and you turn it off because the complete picture is no longer viewable. There is no more available bandwidth.
We’re all aware of and accept the conflict between our internet bandwidth and our Netflix subscription, but we don’t associate it with our own bandwidth usage. We anticipate that our bandwidth will continue to grow. We expect our brains to be able to hold more information, our muscles to work harder, and our shoulders to carry more weight.
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The difficulty is that our brains and bodies do not work that way. Our bodies are not made of steel, and time is a cruel mistress. So, in a world where having it all is the aim, the question to ask is: do we truly want it all?
“If I could only balance my life better,” or “I am just missing some balance,” they always say in my initial coaching session with clients. But, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to let you in on a little secret. The pursuit of a balanced existence should never be the final goal.
Imagine two toddlers of equal weight balancing on a teeter-totter, each fighting gravity to stay in the middle. What happens once they figure out the proper amount of leg force to keep them suspended above the ground? Nothing. They become trapped, inert, and bored as they sit there, perfectly balanced. What if, instead of seeking balance in life, we set out on a quest for the ideal imbalance?
This is something I discuss with a lot of my clients. What do you anticipate your mental bandwidth to cover, I ask? It’s a combination of work or business, health, and family for many people, just as it was in the original question.
Each of these categories can have quantifiable, attainable, and fair goals as long as they complement rather than compete with one another.
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How do you know if your objectives are in sync or at odds? You must first determine who is establishing the standards you are attempting to meet. Do you want to accomplish this result, or is there an external element (societal influence, family member, friend, peer) causing you to want to improve? This phase will allow us to see past the person we think we should be and into the person, we really want to be.
Because we have clarity on what we actually desire, this is where the magic happens. There are times in our lives when we succeed in a few areas while maintaining our performance in others.
Many of my clients are businesswomen in the real estate industry. A feeling of a cyclone above their heads, full of their duties, is something they all have in common. When they look up, they see a swirling, spinning mass of pandemonium about to engulf the whole.
I explain to them that just because a tornado is present does not imply they must be drawn into it. I instruct my clients to close their eyes and visualize the storm they described.
Freeze that storm and take only what is absolutely necessary and fall into their MVP category (Most Valuable Productivity). Everything else should stay in the cyclone because if it isn’t getting you closer to your goals, it is getting you further away from them.
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My customers always realize they say yes to too many things after this exercise, prompting them to say no to their MVP category. They are so preoccupied with filling other people’s cups that they have no time to fill their own.
It’s simple to say, “Focus on what matters.” It’s not so simple to figure out what’s significant. It’s all extremely individual. We go through a series of questions to help my clients gain clarity. What are the most significant things in your life? What do you wish to be doing in the next few years? Who do you want to accompany you on this journey? What or who can assist you in gaining traction?