Tired of feeling like you’re living a mediocre life?
We get it. Life seems to be an ongoing competition and grind to get ahead. Time just flies by while we’re not even looking, leaving us behind in its dust. The days can move so quickly that it may seem impossible to really get your feet under you to stand tall.
Let’s change that – starting today! Let’s plot out a simple course for you to reach your full potential.
1. Develop your self-awareness.
The cornerstone of any self-improvement is self-awareness. You simply cannot make the right changes for you if you do not understand why you are changing or want to change.
This is also the reason that you cannot force or expect another person to change for you. That change needs to be something that fits and fulfills some part of you.
What piques your interest? What speaks to your soul? What calls to you when everything is quiet and your mind wanders? What sparks passion for you? Joy? Sadness? Anger?
Or maybe you’re having a hard time right now, and nothing sparks that kind of interest and emotion.
That’s okay! Truly. You may need to explore the question with a mental health professional to better understand what is going on inside you and why.
That will be a valuable first step if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or other problems that make it hard for you to get in touch with your true self, the self that is beneath all of that.
2. Identify your weaknesses, go hard on your strengths.
Understanding your weaknesses and strengths can make the process of self-improvement so much easier.
What do you have a hard time with? Are there remedies or fixes for that? Are there tools to help you get through those weaknesses? Are those weaknesses something you can outsource?
That last one might need a bit of explanation. In this life, we only get 24 hours in our day. And once those hours are gone, they’re gone. There is no turning back the clock to get them back.
Now, if there is something that you’re not good at that’s standing in the way of your success, is it better to struggle through it or get some help with it?
Perhaps you decide to go back to school and you’re struggling with a course. You can struggle and suffer through it yourself, or you can seek out help from a professor, tutor, or an educational website.
A thing might take you ten hours to figure out on your own, but you could have knocked it out in 20 minutes with the help of someone knowledgeable.
That 9 hours and 40 minutes would be much better spent resting, studying other things, or going harder on your strengths.
The more you pour into your strengths, the greater leverage you can create. Don’t waste your time trying to excel in your weaknesses. Know them, understand them, look for ways to minimize their negative impact so you can create a much greater impact with your strengths.
3. Identify short and long-term goals.
Accomplished people set goals. The reason you need goals is to understand where you eventually want to end up. Think of them as signs on the road to your success.
There are many goal-setting techniques out there. The most common of these techniques is probably the SMART approach.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. As in, these are the components of what makes a goal tangible and actionable.
Specific – Don’t be abstract. Identify precisely what the goal is.
Measurable – How will you know if you succeeded or failed?
Achievable – Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
Relevant – The goal should be in line with your greater goals and self.
Timely – Long-term goals are good, but short-term goals are necessary.
Loose desires aren’t good because they don’t provide meaningful direction. They won’t help you achieve your full potential. In fact, they may turn into daydreaming that wastes valuable time.
4. Create a roadmap for success.
A roadmap for success is going to guide you from where you are currently at to your destination. You need to know how to get to where you want to be.
If you want to be a doctor, there’s a whole process of education, advanced education, testing, and licensing that you’re going to need to know and understand before you can begin to practice medicine.
An easy way to develop a road map is to start at the end and work your way backward. You can also try asking people who have already accomplished the kind of goal you’re setting out for how they went about finding their own success. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to talk about their journey if you only ask!
Don’t over-plan. The best way to plot your course is like an outline. You want to hit all the major points, but not try to over-plan what happens between those points.
Going back to the previous doctor example, if you don’t have a degree, you may want to get a biology degree before trying for medical school. Don’t limit yourself to only getting that biology degree from one specific school. What if that school doesn’t accept you?
Remain fluid in your thinking and your expectations and that will serve you well.
5. Push through your fears.
Fear will hold you back in life if you don’t challenge it and find a way to break through it.
Fear is what keeps a person in their comfort zone, where they can go about their life not having to show a great deal of courage.
But your full potential is outside of your comfort zone. It is in a place where risks have to be taken, challenges accepted, and fears overcome.
Perhaps you see your potential in the high-flying world of business or as someone who runs a charity or NGO. But you experience some social anxiety and the thought of networking or, worse still, public speaking terrifies you. In which case, you will have to face and overcome that fear if you are to reach your potential.
Fear isn’t something that will go away completely in most cases, so it’s as much about managing it and finding ways to take action in spite of it. Sometimes, it might help to address your fears with a mental health professional, whilst other times it is something you can work on by yourself over time.
6. Keep learning.
The idea of your ‘full’ potential is a bit of a misleading one because with every day you live, there are always more things to learn, more experience to gain.
It might help, instead, to think of your potential as a level that rises over time, and that the closer you are to that level on any given day, the closer you are to your potential at that point in time.
This means, where there are opportunities to learn something new, they should be embraced.
Or, rather, they should be duly considered, because not everything is worth learning. Sometimes you might receive bad advice or irrelevant information, and it’s your job to figure out what is worth holding onto and what needs to be discarded.
But a person never stops growing and changing over time, and this happens because they learn, whether they realize this or not.
7. Minimize time-wasting activities.
The world is packed full of time-wasting activities that can derail your efforts to reach your full potential. You do not want to just kill time or burn it with mindless, time-wasting activities unless this is your way to take a temporary break.
That means not spending time mindlessly scrolling social media, zoning out into binge-watching shows on streaming services, dumping excessive hours into video games, or wasting your life away with unhealthy activities or substance abuse.
Does substance abuse count? Why wouldn’t it? Plenty of people get high or drink to not think about their life for a while. In the context of this article, the problem is that it is such a colossal waste of time to be drunk or high.
Yeah, it’s fun for a while, until it’s not. Then it just becomes a thing you do. After a while, you have to spend even more time dealing with the relationship, job, and substance abuse issues that arise from it.
There’s nothing wrong with leisure or fun activities when done in moderation. The keyword is moderation.
And time-wasting isn’t restricted to leisure – there are plenty of ways to waste time when working. You might overthink things, trying to plan meticulously when you’d be better off just doing something. You might spend too much time on the less important things rather than tackling the big things that really move the needle. Don’t mistake all work for productive work.
8. Put in the work.
Accomplishing anything of note and merit requires work. Often it requires a whole lot of work spread out over a long time.
A degree doesn’t happen overnight. Advancing and becoming a master in your career will take decades to really hone and develop your body of knowledge.
Just showing up is a significant part of the battle. Be there, be present, do the work in front of you as excellently as possible.
And that doesn’t just mean career work either. Whatever it is you choose to do, do it with excellence. Sweeping a floor, parenting, washing your car, applying for jobs, studying… it doesn’t matter! Do it with care and excellence. And if you can’t, learn how to do it with care and excellence.
That’s a great way to spend some time.
The act of practicing excellence in all of your mundane activities will carry through into all other aspects of your life, from work to relationships to personal satisfaction.
9. Accept imperfection.
Let’s be clear – your full potential is not the same as being perfect in any way, shape, or form.
The truth is, perfection with regards to any skill or craft does not exist. Records are always broken, new ways of doing things develop over time, things move forwards.
So whilst you can aim to get as close as possible to your potential, you can’t expect to be flawless at anything and you certainly can’t expect not to make mistakes.
But any mistakes you do make are actually steps toward you realizing your potential because they highlight areas where you can learn, grow, or adapt.
10. Rest, relaxation, and self-care.
Life can really be a grind sometimes. It’s so easy to get swept up in trying to accomplish goals and get things done.
The fact of the matter is that humans aren’t wired to just grind and grind and grind with no rest or relaxation.
Exposure to stress creates cortisol, which is a hormone that is supposed to temporarily help you through difficult times. But when you’re under stress all of the time, always working, continually grinding, that hormone can stay in your system and worsen your health.
Too much work and no play can fuel anxiety, depression, aggravate mental illness, amplify physical illnesses, wear down your immune system, and set you behind on your goals.
If you are a busy person or you’re striving to be a busy person, you must make time for rest, relaxation, and self-care!
Write it into your schedule and treat it with the same importance you’d give your most important responsibilities – because it is one of your most essential responsibilities! Regular sleep, exercise, time to yourself to recharge, and vacations all help you stay healthy.
You must respect your body and mind’s need for rest; otherwise, you will burn out.
And repeat! You can build your entire life by just regularly going through this process. Set goals, understand how to reach them, plan, work, accomplish, and repeat.
You may have to make adjustments as you pursue your goals when life happens and events threaten to derail your plans, but that’s okay.
That’s just part of life. Embrace it and keep working hard toward your goals. You’ll get there before you know it.
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