I don’t know if you have ever thought of it this way or not, but you have 5 very valuable and very limited resources at your disposal. I’m not talking about the kind of natural resources you might be thinking of, like coal or gold or cadmium – the resources I’m talking about today are even more important than those. Each person on earth is given access to these 5 ‘natural resources,’ and how you handle them will shape literally everything about your life.
I first started thinking about this concept because of Jason Womack. Jason Womack is a public speaker, author, executive coach, and ball of energy. I attended one of his seminars a couple years ago and have continued to learn from him ever since. He introduced me to the idea of purposefully managing my Energy, Time, and Focus. In his book, Your Best Just Got Better, Jason Womack lists “Tools” as the fourth limited resource, and stresses the importance of managing your relationships. With that background, here is my list of your 5 limited resources:
Time, Focus, Energy, Money, and Relationships
Your life will change drastically when you fully understand that these resources are limited.
You only have so much of them.
If you waste them, you will never get them back.
So use them wisely!
But here is the exciting thing – these limited resources can sometimes be stretched, if approached correctly. Time and again I have had the experience that a project or idea that seems impossible due to lack of money or lack of time suddenly becomes possible because of something unforeseen. I finally realized that these 5 areas, although limited, can complement each other. I have seen that if you treat them right, they will expand beyond the limits that you ever would have dreamed. Their potentially is essentially limitless! (Or at least highly elastic!)
What do I mean by this? Here are some examples of both sides – the limited resource and its unlimited potential. (Today I will address Time and Focus, as a review from our previous discussions. I will tackle the last three in another post.)
For the past couple weeks I have discussed managing your time. Time is one of your most valuable resources, and the one that is the most objectively limited.
Limited Resource: Every day you have 24 hours, minus whatever you sleep. Minus whatever you have to work.
If you spend 30 minutes on Facebook before work, then you have 30 fewer minutes to read the Bible or go for a run. If you spend an hour on Project A at work, then you have 60 fewer minutes to work on project B
Energy: If you attack a problem with tons of energy, you can get it done faster. This essentially ‘creates time.’
Focus: We have all observed the way that a project can take an hour if we are distracted, but then when we need to buckle down and focus on it we can get it done in half that time. You can also avoid wasting time on lower priority activities that do not help us meet our primary goals. Again, you have ‘created’ time by applying greater focus. Another example is that if we focus on a problem we may find an innovative way to be more efficient and cut out unnecessary steps.
Money: We are in the process of selling our house, after moving into a new house. So I have 2 yards to mow. And it has been a rainy spring. So, I broke down and have paid a high school lad to mow the grass at the old house. $40 buys me 2+ hours of life, and it is a good trade off. Money also allows us to buy things like washers and dryers, organizational items, and all of the tools that Jason Womack references in his book. These tools can create an immense amount of time.
Relationships: I love to garden, and I will never forget the feeling I had the first year that my kids were actually able to help me plant it. I’ve always involved them so that they could ‘help,’ with big quotation marks, but now they can actually get stuff done. I suddenly have 3 little Nates running around, getting stuff done. (I’m thinking it’s time to make a bigger garden!) We call that delegation, and it is amazing. Beyond delegation, relationships can spur us to greater energy and efficiency, friends can supplement our weaknesses with their strengths (more on that next week), they can hold the end of the board to help you get it put into place, and in a variety of ways can help you to multiply your time.
Limited Resource: The human mind can only focus on one thing at a time. (Yes, you can switch back and forth quickly, and perhaps moms have this multitasking superpower, but I do not. The Quad Core Processor version of me is still in development, I guess.) A person or organization can only focus on so many priorities, or else nothing is a priority. Review these posts for more about focus.
Money: If you don’t manage your money, then your focus will be totally diverted to just staying above water. On the other hand, if you obsess about your money and your wealth, your focus will be skewed. But if you can hit the happy medium, you will neither have to worry about money nor be consumed by the pursuit of money. So your focus and your time can be allocated accordingly. We’ve touched on money a few times, and I am writing a post on it for this Thursday. (stay tuned!)
Time: If we manage our time it can drastically improve our chances of focus. Block off time on your schedule to sit and think about important initiatives at work. Invest the time to go on monthly dates to focus on your marriage, or to get away by yourself to meditate and refocus.
Energy: You’re not you when you’re hungry. Keep your energy levels up, and it is amazing how focused you can be.
Relationships: Attitudes are contagious. Bad company corrupts good character. You pay attention to and value the things that matter to your friends. Cultivate relationships with people who will support your focus on the things that matter, or else your relationships will be a constant distraction.
I hope that in my rambling I was able to convey the two sides to this very interesting coin. On the one hand, we need to purposefully invest our time and focus in things that matter, because we only have a certain amount of each. But on the other hand, we can amplify the effectiveness of our time and focus if we maximize our relationships, energy, and money. To conclude, these resources have nearly unlimited potential. But paradoxically, ironically, the first step towards achieving the ‘limitless’ stage is to understand that they are limited and to act accordingly. Stay tuned for next time, when we review the last 3 limited resources with unlimited potential!
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