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5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Meeting Your Potential

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!

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5 Misconceptions About Weight Loss

Let’s talk about weight loss! As with any health and wellness article I write, please realize that I am not a health expert, nor do I claim to be. Any changes you make to your daily diet or workout routine should be because of your own research and/or recommendation from your trusted physician or nutritionist.
 
With that being said, there were many ideas I had about weight loss which I later found to be either inaccurate or 100% false. There’s so much information on the internet, and that can make it difficult for us to truly understand what to do. Below are just 5 of these common misconceptions:
 

  • Following a crash diet is not ideal for long-term results

This isn’t a “knock” on some of the popular diets in 2019. For many people, different programs like the ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting work very well (I have personally been intermittent fasting for the last 10 months).

However, it’s a HUGE knock on those trying to sell you a SUPER restrictive diet for a few months just so you can lose some weight and go back to your less-than-ideal eating habits. This approach is absolute garbage! I should know- I tried it all 4 years of college.

I gained roughly 40 pounds within my first 1 ½ years while in school. That’s not “stress”, that’s having no self-control, and I fully admit it. What made it worse? I tried to lose weight once or twice a year and failed every single time because I was thinking about it the wrong way.

The truth is that if we want to become healthy long-term, we don’t need a diet, we need a lifestyle change. We need small habits which over time deliver big results, not a crash-course diet which deprives us of everything we enjoy eating. While some people find success with that method, most of us quit after a couple of weeks. Remember: If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. 

  • Eliminating all fats from your diet is not healthy

“Fat makes you fat” is scientifically false- there’s no other way around it. FAT IS NOT YOUR ENEMY!

Contrary to popular belief, SOME fat actually promotes overall health (and specifically heart health). Monounsaturated (found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts) are excellent for heart health. In fact, one of the most common polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3s, which are the essential nutrients found in fish oil.

Fat doesn’t make you fat- too much bad fat makes you fat. Understand the difference, and then eat your avocados! 😀

  • You cannot target weight loss in specific areas of your body

Spot reduction does not exist outside of liposuction. This is another HUGE idea which I did not understand until recently. Fact: It does not matter how many crunches, sit-ups, or leg lifts you do- if stomach fat is covering your abs, you will NEVER see them!

Literally, never, ever, ever!

That’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true, and the moment we accept it is the moment we can take necessary steps to get that 6-pack (or at least lose some belly fat). The trick is quite simple, and it’s been true since the dawn of man: If we want to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume. 

Before you go out and buy the newest Ab Blaster Deluxe 5000, take a look at what you’re eating. Understand how much cardio you are doing every week. Get a baseline understanding of how many calories you need to burn a day in order to be in a caloric deficit.

After that, you can look to specifically target your abs (or any specific body part). Don’t misinterpret my intentions- ab exercises are EXCELLENT for developing solid core strength and overall aesthetics, but doing them alone will probably not get you the results you want.

  • All calories are not the same- WHAT we eat matters!

Having a daily caloric intake goal is a nice way to keep track of your progress and keep yourself accountable. However, if that goal becomes your sole focus, you may fall behind in your weight loss journey.

Think of it this way: If your goal is to consume 2,000 calories a day, you can do that by eating 2-3 good sized meals filled with protein, healthy fats, and some carbs. Alternatively, you can eat 13.33 Twinkies (roughly 2,000 cals) and meet your caloric requirements that way.

Did both options meet your calorie goal? Yep! Was the 2nd one a good idea or even remotely healthy? Nope! Obviously, your situation may not be that extreme, but using an extreme scenario gets the point across. What you eat matters to the way you feel and look, so make it a goal to incorporate healthy foods in your life rather than just trying to hit a specific calorie intake.

  • Make incremental changes rather than changing everything at once

 
This is the biggest mistake I made when trying to lose weight in college. While this may be counterintuitive, and perhaps not as motivating as going as hard as you can from the very beginning, making small changes to your lifestyle at the beginning will create the best chance for your success.
 
When I wanted to lose weight, I’d say to myself, “Alright, Sean. Starting today, you are going to eat nothing but clean calories, do 45 minutes of cardio a day, lift weights 5 days a week, and find the cure for cancer by next Thursday.”
 
Ok, the last one was a joke, but in all honesty that method was going to get me about as close to my weight loss goals as it was to me curing cancer (while I’m a ‘jokester’, cancer kills people every day. Check out the American Association for Cancer Research to donate and learn about cancer research being done today!).
 
Rather than trying to do everything at once, start with small goals like going to the gym 2-3 times a week, limiting yourself to 1 treat/day, and then go from there. Will this take longer than a crash diet which deprives yourself of any enjoyment? Yes. Will you have a better chance of actually losing weight and gaining physical/mental health in the process? You bet!