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4 Common Issues People Have That Kill Their Great Potential

4 Common Issues People Have That Kill Their Great Potential

The sad truth about life is that most people never even come close to reaching their maximum potential. Yes, it is true that some people are born with greater advantages and a higher potential, but does that really matter if we are unable to come close to reaching our own? Often, it is difficult for us to see the issues within ourselves that are holding us back. True self-reflection is not easy, but if you are able to do so, you are already way ahead of others on your self-improvement journey. There are 4 common issues that most people have that are killing their great potential – can you honestly look within yourself to see if any of these apply to you?As Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

1. Always Comparing Yourself to Others

Humans are social animals and as such we are highly influenced by the society around us. Because of this, comparing ourselves to others is inevitable. While we will never be able to entirely free ourselves from this, we can take steps to minimize it and even use it in our favor.

The problem with always comparing ourselves to others is this: success is personal. Success means something different from one person to another. So while you may be envious of a wealthy friend, your friend might be envious of your success with personal relationships!

Another problem is that making an apples-to-apples comparison can be damaging for your self-worth. If you just managed to muster the self-discipline to train for and complete a 5K run, comparing yourself to your friend who runs full marathons every 3 months might cause you to question whether what you are doing is ‘worth it’ or whether you are any good at all.

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So what to do about it? The first step is to be clear in your goals and really think about what constitutes success to you. Don’t accept the standard definition. Secondly, when it comes to these apples-to-apples comparisons, use it as motivation instead. Tell yourself this: “Wow, if that person, who is human just like everybody else, can accomplish that, I can too!”

2. Lack of Self-Awareness

While this appears at number two on our list, in terms of importance, it really should be number one. You cannot begin to improve yourself if you don’t know what you need to improve upon in the first place.

The dilemma is this: how do you solve the problem of lacking self-awareness when you don’t realize that you lack self-awareness in the first place (because you lack self-awareness)? It’s an infinite loop.

Well, since you’re reading this article, begin right now by asking yourself: “What are the aspects of my actions and personality that need to change for me to get where I want to be?”

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And if you really are unable to determine what those aspects are, get a trusted friend and ask him or her for honest and critical feedback on how others perceive you. Tell them not to hold back and don’t be surprised when the answer is not exactly what you want to hear, which leads us to the third problem…

3. Being Unable to Take Feedback

Fact: no one likes being criticized. Criticisms, more often than not, are a stinging blow to our egos and self-image. The most common reaction to being criticized is being defensive; we attempt to rationalize away our errors to soothe our bruised egos.

However, if we never learn to take objective feedback and improve ourselves, we will never reach our full potential. Honest feedback lets us know where we are lacking and how we can improve. It is a gift to be appreciated and not an insult to be scorned.

Here’s the rub: there is a difference between criticism and feedback. While the line is often blurry, in general criticism tends to devalue which is why it often feels so personal, while feedback focuses on how you can improve. Unfortunately, as we go through life, we will find ourselves receiving just as much (if not more) criticism than feedback.

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There’s no way around this fact, all you can do when it comes to criticism is to look for the little nugget of objective feedback contained within it. Don’t get defensive, and don’t take it personally. Remember that harsh criticism often reveals more about the critic than you.

As Oscar Wilde says, “criticism is the only reliable form of autobiography.”

So the next time someone gives you criticism or feedback, ask yourself: “How can I use this to improve myself and bring myself closer to my goals?”

4. Fear of Failure

Have you heard of the term ‘loss aversion’? People would naturally prefer to avoid losses than to acquire gains. While this may have been a necessary trait back in our hunter-gatherer days, this no longer holds true today. Yet, this nature continues to prevent us from taking necessary action in our lives.

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Shame is also strongly linked to the fear of failure. Psychologist Michael Lewis has called it ‘the quintessential human emotion’. When we fail, we feel shame: shame at letting others down, shame at letting ourselves down, shame at not being good enough. So how do we avoid this feeling? By avoiding taking action of course!

There is no question that our fear of failure holds us back. We fear the consequences of failure. However, more often than not, the consequences of failure are not as drastic as you imagine. The actual consequences are exaggerated by the expectation of shame. Remember the saying, FEAR is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real.

This is a reason why entrepreneurs are so idolized in modern society; we see these people bravely face the fear (and reality) of failure over and over again and still come back swinging and wish we could be the same way.

The good news is, you can! I am not telling you to leap in blindly, but rather to do a proper cost-benefit analysis of an action to determine its validity. Ask yourself this question: “Am I avoiding this action because of real consequences, or is it just my fear?” “Are the consequences of failure really as drastic as I am imagining them to be?”

The issues identified here are simple to explain, but not easy to fix. Nonetheless, we hope that by bringing some of them to light you will be better able to recognize these issues within yourselves and begin the process of overcoming them.

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Ian Lee

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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