Time is your most valuable resource. If you’re able to maximize time, you’ll get more out of life. It’s as simple as that – or is it!
It’s one thing to smart schedule and effectively plan your time on a day-to-day basis. It’s one thing to clear your pressing to-do list and stay on top of all your commitments and responsibilities.
But a nitty-gritty focus alone also brings risks. If you’re too focused on what’s right in front of you, there’s a chance you won’t see the bigger picture. It’s as Bill Gates said.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
If you can only see what’s directly in front of you, it’s hard to think ahead and plan proactively. Instead, you end up fire-fighting while reacting to what’s happening now. This strategy ensures you survive, but it’s not enough to ensure you thrive.
But integrated big-picture thinking into your life approach, and all that changes.
What is big-picture thinking?
Big-picture thinking is a fundamental skill that provides the perspective and strategic overview to move your life in the right direction – in the immediate as well as the longer-term.
Big-picture planning is the difference between being nose-up to a situation and looking down with a bird’s eye view.
Take that step backwards and upwards, and suddenly, you see things that were previously invisible. You view problems through fresh eyes. You create space to imagine radical solutions and you join up threads to map out a clearer path to your next steps.
- You can plan five steps ahead instead of taking decisions on the fly.
- You can see how a decision you make today could open doors in five years time.
- You can even see what you were at risk of missing, under-estimating, or under-valuing.
Without big-picture thinking, life can become too reactive – and that can leave you disappointed and frustrated.
Three tips for big-picture thinking
1. Make time for it
Sure, life is busy! But don’t let the hustle and bustle of everyday life become the reason you don’t think about the bigger picture.
Instead, take time out to think about where you’re going. Also, give yourself the space to check in to see if you’re still going in the right direction! As your best self evolves, you’ll no doubt change your mind about what you do want [and that’s OK]. Each time your comfort zone expands or you achieve another goal, your frame of reference shifts.
New opportunities and possibilities open up for you.
If you schedule in regular big-thinking time, you’ll be able to capitalize on your growth spurts – and create your best life as a result.
2. Cultivate the ability to think bigger
It’s easy to get caught in your regular thought patterns. We’re creatures of habit, which means we like what we know – because there’s security in that. But unless you challenge your habitual ways of thinking, you’ll continue to generate similar results.
But that changes when you inspire yourself to think differently. For example:
- 10x your idea. What would your current goal look like it you made the outcome even bigger? Sure, you don’t have to aim for that, but allowing yourself to think along those bigger lines can open up something new.
- 10 ideas. Push yourself to generate more ideas once your initial steam is exhausted. [The Edison Deck will help you cultivate this skill.] When you ‘have’ to think beyond what feels comfortable, bigger ideas inevitably come.
- Cultivate courage. Your limiting beliefs and current identity place restrictions around what you believe is possible for you. Courage forces you to step outside your comfort zone and expand who you are. As your perspective shifts, you see the path in front of you differently.
- Think further ahead. Where do you want to be in ten years time? What do you have to do today to make that vision a reality? Allow yourself to see through bigger timescales, and you can transform the vision you have for your life. For example, you may not be able to create a charitable foundation this year, but you could in ten years time.
3. Plan for it
Don’t leave your big-picture ideas to chance, instead, translate them into concrete plans.
Keep planning your week and individual days, but at the same time mastermind your year ahead. A wall calendar is a great tool for this. Map on any key and fixed dates [such as anniversaries, birthdays, vacations, and events]. Mark on any milestones and existing deadlines too. then look at the white space that’s left.
How can you maximize the time you have?
What steps are you missing to get to where you want?
What could you do next if you were to achieve everything on your calendar?
Now, next, later
Some goals can be achieved extremely quickly. For example, you can start a journaling, running, or meditation practice right now. All you need is 10 minutes and you’re off!
Other goals take longer.
And there are other outcomes which can’t even be started until you’ve laid the foundations.
Big-picture thinking creates the space for you to identify these foundations in advance – so you can begin working on them now. It’s the difference between being in the perfect place ten years from now – to looking back with regret, wishing you’d started something earlier.
You’ve got this!