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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 October 23, 2018

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

Where Work Stress Comes From

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

  • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
  • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
  • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
  • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
  • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
  • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
  • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

    If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

    In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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    I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

    How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

    1. Set aside some time for planning

    If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

    For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

    The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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    For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

    By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

    These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

    3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

    How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

      Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

      Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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      • To remove yourself from the company
      • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
      • To accept that your salary is okay for you

      You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

      If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

      By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

      Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

      4. Create positive relationships at work

      One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

      Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

      Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

      5. Take time out for yourself

      Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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      Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

      If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

      6. Take mindful action towards your health

      The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

      • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
      • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
      • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
      • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

      Final Thoughts

      Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

      Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

      Beat stress with the right mindset!

      Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

      Reference

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