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The Five Reasons Why You Are Not Fulfilling Your Potential.

The Five Reasons Why You Are Not Fulfilling Your Potential.

Reach Your Potential

    Very few people can claim that they have achieved all that they are capable of. In the Western world most of us do moderately well. We get an education and a succession of jobs; we have some relationships that work; we are well fed; we avoid penury and destitution. We can take comfort in modest achievements. But for many people there is a nagging feeling that they could have done much, much more with their lives and careers. They know that their talents are mostly undeveloped. So what is that is stopping you right now from making a much greater contribution to society? What is that is preventing you from fulfilling your potential?

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    1. You do not have enough belief in yourself. All successful people have enormous self-belief. They know that they have something special to contribute and they are determined to make their mark. This does not mean that they are arrogant, narcissistic or complacent. On the contrary, they are self critical and push themselves hard because they know that they can achieve more. What is it that is special about you? What is the talent that you have not developed? What do you know you are capable of?

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    2. You do not measure yourself against written goals. It is hard to make progress if you have no clear goals for your life. Most of us muddle along from one thing to the next. Successful people define their objectives and measure progress against them. You should set yourself targets in the areas that are important to you e.g. career, wealth, health, relationships and social life. There are many books giving detailed advice on goal setting and they reinforce the point that the most important thing is to write your goals down and track progress. If you do not achieve some of the goals then reset them. You can be flexible and adjust how you move forward but you must keep moving. Do you have written objectives that you track regularly?

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    3. You are too comfortable where you are. It is easy and natural to settle into a rut. Why try something new when you are already doing that you are good at? High achievers go further. They take risks. They move out of their comfort zones. They take on difficult challenges. They push themselves to acquire new skills and to face new examinations of their abilities. This means that they run the risk of failure. Where are you right now – inside your comfort zone or taking risks?

    4. You are lazy.
    Either that or you waste a lot of time every day on low value activities.  Thinking and planning are great but it is action that leads to success. It is only by doing things and doing the right things that you change the world. If you have clear goals but are not making progress towards them then look at your activity level. If you are a writer are you writing enough? If you are a salesman are you selling enough? If you are a leader are you leading enough? Great sportsmen and musicians practise for hours each day. Picasso painted over 20,000 pictures. Persistence pays dividends. How high is your work rate? And how much time do you waste on activities that do not advance you towards your objectives?

    5. You are not mixing with high achievers. Let’s face it – your friends and family are really nice people but they are not challenging you to achieve more. Spend more time with high flyers and positive thinkers who understand ambition and achievement. Share some of your thoughts, dreams and challenges with them. They will encourage you and give you the direct advice you need. How much time are you spending with really successful people?

    The person who can motivate you, change you and get the most out of you is in the mirror. Build your self-belief. Set yourself clear goals and measure progress against them. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Take on some difficult challenges even though you risk failure. Significantly increase your work rate. Mix with high achievers. Ask yourself this – do you want a safe, comfortable existence or do you want a life where you achieve something really worthwhile?

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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