Have you ever prepared a recipe and accidentally added the wrong amount of an ingredient? I’ve certainly made my share of soupy instant mashed potatoes! For every recipe, there is an optimal level for each ingredient, such as water or flour or sugar. Putting in either too little or too much will give you a less-than-desired result.
This optimal level of input into a process for best results is sometimes called a ”sweet spot.” This simple principle holds true for more than just making mashed potatoes. There’s another sweet spot that affects you every day: the sweet spot of optimal resource investment into your goals.
Every goal, every project in your life, whether business or personal, requires an investment of your resources, such as time, money, planning, & effort. Each goal will have its own “sweet spot” of resource investment, the level that gives you the maximum accomplishment for the investment that you make. Finding your goal’s resource investment sweet spot is a major factor in its success and the satisfaction you will receive from it.
A Practical Example
Let’s look at a very practical example of the difference finding the sweet spot of a project makes. I know that some of you may think I am incapable of growing anything after reading my earlier post on passivity, but when I lived in North Carolina I had a garden that looked like this:
Now contrast that garden with this years’ attempt (I won’t even dignify it with the word “garden”):
Now, what was the difference between the two projects? It was my level of resource investment. With the first garden, I allocated an optimal level of resources. I did some reading & planning, tilled up a manageable plot (not too large or too small), bought the right number of plants, and gave it adequate attention through the year. The result: a garden that I really enjoyed and that was very productive. I hit the sweet spot for my North Carolina garden quite nicely.
However, with this year’s attempt, I did not allocate adequate resources. I tried to “get by” with a patio garden that used old potting soil that was probably contaminated with fungi and other nasty stuff. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to spend a lot of money, but I’ll make do and take what I can get.” The result: a project that gave me almost no enjoyment and almost no produce. What’s worse, this poor result brought in emotional discouragement and disconnection with something I’ve really enjoyed in the past, which could have made it much less likely that I would try gardening again.
On the other hand, I could have erred on the other side of resource investment. I could have bought & read a dozen books on gardening, and then went out and got a dozen of these very sweet but very expensive tomato growing systems:
If I had chosen that level of resource investment, I indeed would have had great tomatoes, but I also would have been frustrated and discouraged about the hundreds of dollars I had spent to get those tomatoes. Consquently, my end result would still have been sub-optimal because my level of resource investment would have been too much for the project at hand. Bottom line: there was a “sweet spot” of optimal resource investment for my garden, and hitting or missing that sweet spot had a dramatic impact on my level of success & satisfaction.
Finding YOUR Sweet Spot
Ok, now it’s your turn: make a list of some projects and/or goals in your life, whether they be work, personal, or hobby related. For each one, ask yourself the question, “Am I in the sweet spot of optimal resource investment?” For instance, you could consider whether you are spending too little money trying to cut corners with cheap paint on that room remodel. Or are you smothering that love interest with so much attention (or so little attention!) that they’re being driven away? Or are you investing the right amount of prep time before that job interview? Or spending too much (or too little) time editing that blog post before you click the “publish” button?
For each goal on your list, make a decision as to whether your resource investment is too little, too much, or just right. Yes, I know, sometimes that’s hard to gauge, but that’s where you have to make your best judgement now, and then monitor the goal’s progress and be willing to revise your estimate up or down later.
If you have an area where you think you are over-invested, your solution is straightforward: cut back on your resource investment a little and see how it goes. However, if you have an area where you are under-invested, you have a choice: you can either ratchet up your level of resource investment to get optimal results, OR you can further reduce your resource investment to zero and drop the goal entirely.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably got too many projects that are all performing poorly because you only have so much time and money and effort per day, and by spreading yourself too thin you end up not being optimally invested in anything. The result: a whole series of poorly performing projects that don’t give you any joy at all. The harder, but smarter, course of action is to invest more resources of your finite time, money, and effort optimally into fewer goals, which will then give you optimal payback, whether in produce or productivity.
Some of you may instead find that you have the reverse problem: you’re so heavily invested in one goal (like getting ahead in your career) that you don’t invest in anything else. The danger here is that you have nothing else to fall back on if your results in that one area don’t turn out like you expected or you realize the goal isn’t as important as you first decided. The harder, but smarter, course of action for you would be to diversify your resources into several different goals.
Finding your sweet spot of optimal resource investment in your goals will help you achieve a greater level of success & satisfaction in multiple areas of your life. Why not make that list and start looking for your sweet spot today?