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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 April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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