Do you feel like you’re letting yourself or others down? Are you worried that you aren’t growing as you should? Are you simply just not meeting your potential?
That feeling is no fun and can lead to some serious mental health issues if not dealt with properly. Luckily, if you’re alive, then you have time to change. Plus, with free resources provided on the internet, you have plenty of tools to help! However, you have to be willing to change, and you have to be okay with dealing with your shortcomings.
I use the term “meeting” your potential rather than “reaching” because the word “reach” implies some type of end goal or finality. As long as we’re breathing, we should always strive to get better every day. So, from the very beginning, view this as a dynamic process, and let’s dive into 5 reasons why you may not be meeting your potential:
- You aren’t challenging yourself enough
Humans are capable of amazing things. We trade paperclips for houses and even knit designs and artwork for entire buildings.
We have the potential to accomplish feats we never thought possible, but we will never realize this potential if we do not challenge ourselves. Question: Are you feeling comfortable with life right now? Have you felt like you’re coasting, or not experiencing any type of friction?
This is a big sign that you aren’t challenging yourself as you should. Do hard things; do NEW things; do things that make you uncomfortable. We grow through pushing ourselves through discomfort into learning and success. If it doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable, it probably won’t change you.
- You don’t have KPIs to measure yourself
Doing challenging things isn’t enough, you need to have metrics which measure your progress! Think about it: Imagine Usain Bolt practicing on the track without a stopwatch, or Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen making food without ever tasting it. Doing the work isn’t enough, you have to have a general understanding of how you’re doing.
Start with setting some goals, and try to start small. List out some things you’d like to be doing better in your life right now. Once those goals are clear, set some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to help track your progress with the set goals.
Example: Let’s say you set a goal to lose 10 pounds. Great! Now, set some KPIs. Your key metrics are probably centered around exercise and nutrition, so set a goal to go to the gym x times/week, and then set a daily caloric goal, or alternatively set aside 1 meal per day which you will cook yourself and include only whole foods.
See how that works? It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, but proper implementation can change your life.
- You don’t communicate well with others
Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”? While I do not completely subscribe to that idea, there’s definitely some truth to it. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know some people- the RIGHT people! However, you know what is NOT the correct tactic to meet more people? Only giving people the time of day if you need something from them.
Communication is key, both in your personal and professional life. You’ve probably heard the phrase “treat the janitor like the CEO.” It is a breath of fresh air to meet someone like that in the corporate world because they are few and far in between. People talk about it all day- very few commit to actually doing it.
If you will take the time to communicate well with everyone you know, regardless of priority or task, you will grow as a person and in the minds of others. Great communication is an art form which must be perfected over a lifetime, and the only way we’re going to get better is by practicing. Promote kindness and empathy, edifying speech, and positivity in your communication with others, and you’ll start to notice a change in your usual interactions.
- You don’t listen to constructive criticism
These final two points are for those of you on one extreme or another. First, for those of you on this side of it, it’s time to drop the “know it all” attitude. You allow criticism to offend you, even if it is positive/constructive. If you do this, it’s pretty much impossible to meet your potential.
As much as it stings to hear that we suck at something, it’s much better to actually hear it out and change it now than letting it fester for years untouched. This isn’t to say that you should change every single time someone finds fault in what you do, but it does mean that if you hear patterns in people’s criticism of your actions, then maybe it’s time to look into it.
If accepting criticism is below you, leading people is above you!
- You care too much about someone else’s opinion
On the other side of the aisle are those of us who can’t think for ourselves! Every time someone says something you don’t like or criticizes you, you automatically cave. In fact, let’s change the language here and say “we” because for a long time I acted this way.
I’m naturally a people pleaser, and I want others to like me. When I was younger, I was willing to sacrifice far more than I should just for a laugh, for people to think I’m cool, or just, in general, accept me. Let me be clear: There is no single act that will stunt your personal growth quicker than caring about someone else’s opinion about your life more than your own.
There’s a balance- you should hear criticism, but then be able to weigh that against your intentions to see if it holds any merit. If it does, change! If it doesn’t, keep pushing forward! The choice is yours and only yours to make, but if you want to meet your potential, you must be willing to do what it takes!