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Last Updated on February 11, 2020

How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life

How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life

Have you ever heard the phrase “He had so much potential, it’s a shame he wasted it.” In our culture, not living up to your full potential is frowned upon, but why?

In this article, we will look into the factors that influence a person’s potential and the ways to help you live up to your full potential for a successful life.

What Determines a Person’s Potential?

A person’s potential is determined by several factors: Physical Security, Emotional Security, Environment and Mindset.

Physical Security

Before we can even strive to fulfill our potential, our basic physical needs must be met. Without adequate food, water and shelter, our days must be spent acquiring these basic needs in order to survive.

You can think of it this way, the person with the potential to become the most brilliant computer programmer ever could be living right now with a nomadic tribe in sub-Saharan Africa. But because they must spend their days meeting these basic physical needs, that potential will remain untapped.

Emotional Security

Humans are social animals, we don’t do well in isolation. Studies have shown that forming intimate bonds with others is incredibly important for our mental health. These bonds start to develop in infancy, babies rely on this bond with a parent or caretaker to fulfill their needs, and if the bond is missing for some reason it can have lifelong psychological consequences.

Environment

Your environment is another important factor that shapes how you achieve your full potential.

Just like the computer programmer in the previous example. You could have the potential to be the greatest composer since Beethoven, but if you had no access to music or you came from a family that didn’t value that skill set, it’s unlikely that you would fulfill your potential in that area.

Mindset

For most of us, we don’t have to worry about getting enough food, water or shelter. Both our physical and emotional needs have been met (to a large extent anyway). And any limits that our environment has imposed are minimal (especially with the availability of the internet).

So for most of us, the main thing that is limiting us from reaching our full potential is our mindset. Our mindset is the story we carry around with us in our head. It starts to develop in childhood and can be with us our entire life.

The Key to Reaching Your Full Potential: Your Mindset

The problem with most people’s mindset is that it’s negative and limiting. The good news is that you can change your mindset. Author Carol Dweck in her best selling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success points out that there are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth.

A Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset is one where you have concrete beliefs about yourself. Someone with a fixed mindset came up with “their story” in childhood and it hasn’t changes much over the years. They may believe that they aren’t good at public speaking, math or writing just because they struggled with those subjects in school.

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So when something goes wrong, a common thought for someone with a fixed mindset is “What an idiot, I knew I wasn’t any good at that.” Or “Well that just confirmed what I already knew, I won’t be doing that again”. Having a fixed mindset just reinforces negative thoughts and attitudes, making it harder to reach your full potential.

A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. With a growth mindset, you believe anything is possible (but don’t confuse this with being delusional! As a 5’10” 54 year old I’m not going to play in the NBA!). It’s more of the way you think about and approach problems.

Let’s go back to the issue of not being good at public speaking, when things go wrong, instead of telling yourself that you have never been good at public speaking and never will be. A person with a growth mindset will analyze what went wrong and come up with solutions to make it better next time.

For instance, they may take a class on public speaking at their local community college, or join the Toastmaster’s organization. Whatever it is, they don’t look at failure as an insurmountable roadblock, rather a minor detour on the road to their destination.

You can learn more about how to develop a growth mindset in this article: 5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life

1. Develop a Goal

When setting goals, it’s important to keep in mind three things:

First, they should be specific and not vague. So instead of saying “I want to live up to my full potential in life”, a more specific goal would be “I want to become the best (salesman, artist, internet marketer) that I can be.” This is a much more specific goal.

Second, your goal should be measurable. In other words, you should be able to measure your progress towards the goal. Again, it’s much easier to measure your progress to becoming the best artist you can be than it is trying to measure your progress at living up to your “full potential”.

Finally, a goal must be written down. This takes the goal out of the realm of wishful thinking and makes it more real. It also can serve as motivation if you post your goal where you will see it. Put it on your desk, or next to your computer just to remind yourself to keep moving forward. In short, a goal that isn’t written down is just a wish.

This article can help you about setting personal goals to become a great achiever: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

2. Understand That Achieving Your Goal Is Often Times a By-Product of What You Are Doing

Let’s say that your goal is to become the best writer you can be. You may want to measure your success by your ability to get published or in the case of blogging, how widely read your articles are.

Instead of constantly worrying about reaching your goal to be the best, your time is much better spent just writing. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

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It’s the same with any goal, it’s important to set them, but achieving your goal of becoming the best salesperson is really just the by-product of you getting out there and selling!

3. Don’t Let Popular Opinion Dissuade You

Have you ever heard of the Bannister Effect? For years, it was considered a law of nature that the human body was incapable of running a mile in less than 4 minutes. That was until May 6, 1954 when Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. He did what was long considered impossible, but it turned out that it was only impossible because people believed it was impossible.

Roger Bannister didn’t let popular opinion stand in his way, and after he proved that the 4 minute mile was only a psychological barrier, others have continued to break records. Today the current record holder is Hicham El Guerrouj with a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds!

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Push the Envelope

Almost by definition, living up to your full potential requires you to step outside your comfort zone and expand your boundaries.

Average people do average things, get average results and live average lives. Extraordinary people do extraordinary things, get extraordinary results and live extraordinary lives.

You’ll only live your best life once you step out. Here’s how.

5. Practice Discipline

Admittedly, this comes easier for some people than others, but it’s a skill that you can develop and will serve you well in all aspects of your life.

Another way of thinking about discipline is just delayed gratification. How many times have you been on a diet, but there’s a piece of cheese cake in the refrigerator calling out your name!

Having discipline is not a matter of not wanting the cheese cake, discipline is acknowledging your desire for the cheese cake but realizing that this craving is only temporary, and once it passes, you will be much happier that we didn’t succumb to a temporary urge.

The bottom line here is that while you may want to stop working at 5pm sharp, or watch the game on Saturday, but by developing the discipline to delay satisfaction you will be pushing your boundaries and reaping the rewards that come from that extra effort.

6. Be Confident

Have you ever dealt with someone who was new at their job and lacked confidence? Maybe it was a salesperson who couldn’t answer basic questions about a product or just gave you flat out wrong information. Did you end up buying from that salesperson?

My guess is no, I sure wouldn’t.

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Confidence comes with knowledge, discipline and experience. But how do you develop confidence if you are just starting out like our intrepid salesperson? While experience comes with time, knowledge can be acquired fairly quickly, especially if you have already mastered the art of self discipline!

A good rule of thumb is to always start with knowledge. Learn as much as you can, take classes, get a mentor or just do research. If you are disciplined enough to develop the knowledge it will make getting the experience much easier.

Want more tips on boosting confidence? Take a look at this guide: How to Be More Confident: 10 Powerful Ways to Boost Confidence

7. Accept That You Will Fail

There is no such thing as an overnight success. Failure is a part of life and it happens to everyone. In fact, there is a whole body of thinking that failure is actually better than success: 6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail

While most of us would agree that success is better than failure, when it does happen, here are some thing to keep in mind:

Don’t take it personally. A failure in a job, career, business or marriage is just that. It is not reflection on you as a person. I had a friend who lost his entire fortune (over 20 million dollars) in a business deal. I called him shortly after and as expected he was very depressed. My only advice to him was to:

“Never confuse your self worth with your net worth”.

Move on, failures can be heartbreaking, embarrassing and demoralizing. Take the time needed to go through those feelings and process the emotions. Then, let it go, holding on to negative emotions keeps you stuck in a fixed mindset. Remember that your goal here is to live up to your full potential and succeed in life. Dwelling on past mistakes and failures is the surest way to derail your progress.

Let failure be a learning opportunity. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason, it’s true! When I first started internet marketing, I started using Facebook ads for practically everything I did. Pretty soon I found that I was spending about $1,000 on ads that were generating about $200 in income, not a very good business model! I took that failure and redesigned my marketing efforts. I was able to both reduced my costs and increased my sales so that now for every $1,000 in advertising I am generating around $5,000 in income.

8. Learn to Embrace Uncomfortable Situations

Succeeding in life by living up to your full potential means embracing uncomfortable situations. Chris and Heidi Powell, well known personal trainers and hosts of the show Extreme Weight Loss use this technique with their clients. It works like this:

They set a goal for their client that the client thinks is just out of reach. Then through encouragement and motivation, they help the client work though the uncomfortableness and pain to achieve the goal.

This technique works for both physical and psychological challenges. Both our bodies and minds are capable of much more that we think they are.

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9. Set Small Goals to Achieve Big Results

When you are first setting goals, don’t be afraid to make them big! “I want to be the #1 salesperson in the company” or “I want to be a successful artist”. But once you have those goals set, you then need an action plan to get there. It’s in this action plan that you should set many small, easily attainable goals.

For the salesperson, it might be to increase the number of sales they make by one a week in the next quarter, two a week for the 2nd quarter etc… For the artist, it might be to master a technique before the next art show, or produce X number of works to sell at the art show.

Whatever the goals are, they need to get you closer to your ultimate goal while at the same time be attainable. Success builds on success, so achieving these small goals helps to motivate you to continue on to your bigger goals.

10. Take Time to Recharge

Everyone needs “down time”, trying to do everything yourself, all at once is a recipe for disaster.

We talked a lot about being motivated and disciplined in this article; while they are essential to living up to your full potential and succeeding in life, having adequate down time is just as important.

Any personal trainer will tell you that to get the most out of your workouts, you need to take 1 to 2 days off a week. This gives your body a chance to recover and actually get stronger.

The same is true when we are trying to expand our boundaries and fulfill our potential. Making sure we have adequate down time prevents fatigue anxiety and poor decision making.

Final Thoughts

The success you’ll find from living life to your full potential is its own reward. One day, we all will look back on our lives and and think “I wish I would have done …”, “I had a chance to to be a … but I was to scared”, “I could have been a great … if I had put the time in.”

I hope that in this article, we have given you both the motivation and tools to push yourself to your full potential in life, so that when you look back one day your regrets will be few.

More About Reaching Your Full Potential

Featured photo credit: Robson Hatsukami Morgan via unsplash.com

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David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Last Updated on October 16, 2020

12 Ways to Get Back on Track When Things Don’t Work Out

12 Ways to Get Back on Track When Things Don’t Work Out

Life can be complicated. A few months ago, you felt like you were being extremely productive. You would visit the gym regularly, stick to your healthy eating habits, make achievements at your workplace, and were even getting quality sleep each night. You felt motivated enough to take on any task that came your way and even executed it to perfection.

But all of a sudden, everything is dull and bleak. You got too tired of the hectic schedule and you slipped, making you go down a rabbit hole of demotivation and procrastination. Maybe you suffered from the loss of a relationship, an illness, an injury, or a significant setback. Now, you only find yourself thinking negatively because you feel as though all the progress you had made is now ruined.

However, when things don’t work out, there are things you could do to get your life back on track. Many religions and traditions state that in the end, you will be happy. If you aren’t happy, then it is not the end.

But how does one find the motivation to start all over again when things don’t work out? Simple: you go back to the basics.

What Is Control?

When things don’t work out, the first thought that comes to mind is how to begin from scratch. But before you start figuring that out, it is important to know what control is.

Does control mean having a good work-life balance? Or does control refer to being a quick decision-maker?

The thing is that control can be subjective. Having ‘control’ over your life is important, but it may not always mean the same thing for two different people.

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Taking control of your life means that you are self-aware and confident enough to embark on new journeys. This control allows you to feel motivated enough to believe that if you invest your hard work into something, you will reap great results.

While it is impossible to control all the external factors around you, it is possible to control how you feel about them. Taking control of your life begins with your thoughts and emotions—internal factors—which later translate into controlling your surroundings or external factors as well.

When things don’t work out according to plan, we feel as if everything is out of control. To avoid this, we must remember that taking control is a choice that we make for ourselves and that we can exercise that control over our lives whenever and however we wish.

12 Ways of Gaining Control When Things Don’t Work Out

So, what do you do when things don’t work out and you feel as though you have lost control? You gain it back.

Here are 12 simple ways you can get your life back on track.

1. Reflect Upon Yourself

A thorough life audit can clear your perspective. Since it enables you to focus on each area of your life separately, it gives you a better picture of where you stand at the moment. While you reflect upon your life, remember to include aspects such as your career, relationships, family, psychological and physical health, fitness, and overall motivation. This gives you more clarity regarding where you are and where you want to be in the future.

While you could carry out this reflection yourself, there are also many tools available to aid you in this life audit process. The Wheel of Life focuses on a diagram method to evaluate your life, but there are also multiple different lists of questions available to assess your situation.

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2. Identify the Cause of Failure

You had your life on right on track—then what happened? Before you restart your pursuit of motivation and productivity, you must identify the cause of what led to your downfall in the first place. This serves as an extremely important factor in the healing process, especially to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

If you dig deep enough, you will find that some common triggers led to your spiral of negativity. Once you reflect on these triggers and what causes them, avoiding them becomes much easier. This way, you can easily get your life back on track when things don’t work out perfectly.

3. Be Confident

Confidence is the key to your success, especially when it comes to having control over your life. While showing up for work every day is important, showing up to achieve something is much more important.

When things don’t work out perfectly and continue to spread far beyond your control, it can be because of your lack of physical and mental confidence. To regain your confidence, think about the things that provide you with the most confidence and engage in habits that correlate to that. For instance, if you feel confident when you are physically healthy, go to the gym to retain your fitness.

4. De-Clutter

For a clear mind, you must have a clear plan. On average, every individual has around 70,000 thoughts per day. While it is impossible to keep a close record of every single one, it is highly recommended to list down some of the thoughts that are most important to you.

This may be a thought about cooking pasta for dinner tomorrow or that work meeting you have been constantly rescheduling. Maybe it is a project idea you had right before you went to sleep, or maybe it is about that old friend that you thought of while you sip your coffee.

This method of brain dumping will help you bring important ideas and tasks onto paper while making room for your mind to focus on each item individually.

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5. Condition Your Mind

When things don’t work out, you may think that you need to start building your good habits back again from scratch. However, that is not true. There are many habits and routines that one follows subconsciously—and you can easily make use of your current habits to restart different sorts of healthy behavior to gain control over your life again.

For instance, if your current routine is to come home from work, change into comfortable clothing, and watch Netflix—you can use that to condition your brain into a new habit. By changing into workout clothes instead, you may be motivated enough to head to the gym before getting to that TV series.

6. Start From Little Things

Each droplet makes an ocean. When things don’t work out optimally in life, remember that you still have control over the tiny little things that are around you. This could be as insignificant as organizing your drawer or cleaning your house—but it will surely help you regain control over your life. Remember that even tiny things can accumulate into massive life-changing momentum.

7. Be Patient

When things don’t work out, it can be very tempting to get back on track as soon as possible. As a result, you may find yourself rushing through everything and trying to do too much too fast. However, it is time to slow down and be patient with yourself. If you have lost control over your diet, it is easier to get back on track by starting to track calories again instead of meal prep and strict diets.

8. Remember Your Purpose

Self-awareness is necessary. To regain control over your life after you have slipped once, you need to take a step back and reflect upon the purpose of why you wanted control in the first place. Even in the harshest of weather, trees still stand still. This is because they have strong roots—or a strong purpose.

Magical sayings are essential for reminding yourself that even if you don’t know how what you’re hoping for will appear in your life, everything is possible—something that can be easily forgotten when things are not working out.

When things don’t work out perfectly, go back to finding your purpose and why you started. Let that bring you back to gaining control over your life.

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9. Time Management

This is an important life skill that takes years to master but is necessary for getting your life back on track. One of the possible reasons why you slipped in the first place could be because you were too overwhelmed by your surroundings. If there are too many things on your mind at once, you are subject to a mental breakdown sooner or later.

To avoid that, you need to focus on managing your time more efficiently and stressing yourself out less. While it is okay to engage in multiple projects, remember to be moderate with rationing your time, and be responsible enough to keep some time for your self as well.

10. Create Healthy Boundaries

Regaining control over your life requires you to prioritize the things that are most important to you and discarding the few that only stress you out. To do this effectively, it is recommended to set healthy boundaries around yourself that help you focus solely on the important things in life.

11. Breathe

When things don’t work out, it is okay to feel overwhelmed. One of the easiest ways to relax is by taking a long walk and reconnecting with the outdoors. Don’t focus on your speed, distance, or surroundings—just breathe and focus on yourself for this moment.

12. Give Yourself Time

When things don’t work out and you spiral down that hole of negativity, you could be quick to start blaming yourself for everything. As a result, you may also feel pressured to get back on track immediately.

However, you need to give yourself time. Healthy routines are built through consistency and patience, constant reevaluations, and learning how to do things differently. Since this process may take time, you need to be kind to yourself.

Final Thoughts

While there is no single solution to getting your life back on track immediately, you should know that there are multiple smaller steps you can take towards achieving your ultimate goal. Just follow these 12 ways of gaining control when things don’t work out, and you will eventually feel the improvement in your quality of life. After all, having control over our lives is the key to feeling content.

What You Can Do When Things Don’t Work Out

Featured photo credit: Jamie Street via unsplash.com

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