The average person’s potential is probably the personal resource that is most often wasted. Just imagine the things you could achieve if you could tap into it!
We’ve compiled a few helpful signs that can help you determine whether or not you are meeting your maximum potential, and if not, how far you are falling short.
- You sleep well at night and are not feeling a high level of stress or depression.
- You feel energized and excited about your daily routine and the tasks for the day.
- You are happy in your job and life in general, and do not constantly wish you were doing something else.
- You are looking forward to your future, but are truly happy in the present.
- You are passionate about what you do.
- You feel a sense of purpose beyond your own existence.
Review each of the statements that we have listed above. If any of these statements do NOT apply to you, you’re probably not realizing your full potential.
Try following the steps below and see where it takes you. The possibilities are endless!
5 Proven ways to maximize your potential
1. Identify your strengths.
The first thing to do is to figure out what you are best at, as these are things where you have the most potential to excel. We are better at doing things that we like to do. Plus, you will feel happier as well.
Spend some time contemplating on the following questions:
What did you love to do as a child?
Do you remember the child-like wonder you had when you first learned to read? Or when you became interested in a new hobby? What are some things you do, without anyone telling you to do them?
Those interests, which came about at such a young age, are often the best and purest insight into what you truly love to do. Explore whether any of these areas can be translated into abilities that you should be using in your adult life.
What would you do if money were not an issue?
So many of us have jobs we dislike (or hate even). But we continue to grind day after day just for the pay check. Of course you need money to live, but think about what else you can do to make money AND still be happy. Try not to let money alone dictate your career choice.
Chances are, you will be much better at your job. Try to take in the big picture. A lesser paying job now may have the potential to become more lucrative in the future. Keep in mind that your happiness is priceless.
Ask your family, friends, or other loved ones what they think you would be good at. Their perception of you may be very different from your own. At the very least, this will give you some food for thought.
You can also phrase the question differently. Try asking them when they have seen you at your happiest, most productive, and best self. Their answers may be a surprise!
Browse through the offerings at your local college.
It’s hard to maximize your potential if you don’t know the choices that are out there. Reviewing a course catalogue is one simple way to quickly see a wide range of options.
Take this a step further by asking yourself: What would you major in and minor in if you were going to college today? Based on your life and career experience, classes do you think you could teach? What classes would you like to teach? What subjects are you curious about? Which subjects do you find boring?
All of these will help you to hone in on subjects and industries that you find interesting and can lead to further exploration.
Pick a role model.
Who do you admire most, and why? Research that person; learn everything you can about them. This can be someone you know personally or a public figure that you hold in high regard. Emulate them where you can. Use their example as a positive influence on your behavior and decision-making.
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Measure them against what you like to do. Your strengths plus something you love will be a powerful combination.
After you finish the steps above and have determined what you’re truly passionate about, try taking some more concrete, practical steps, such as:
- Talking to a career counselor about possible career paths.
- Reaching out to all of your contacts and network yourself into a better situation.
- Pick a subject that you find fascinating and sign up for a class.
Start saving as much money as possible, unfortunately, money will likely be your greatest obstacle. A financial cushion translates into more options.
2. Commit to the journey, not the result.
You must be willing to make sacrifices in order to maximize your potential. This may come in the form of practice and training, or a willingness to prioritize even if it would disrupt other parts of your life and be an inconvenience.
In order to be truly committed, you must find a purpose in what you’re doing. If it’s something that you are truly passionate about, it’s easier to maintain a high level of commitment.
Determination and fortitude are also key components in being committed. You will face challenges along the way, so take them head on with a determined attitude.
3. Take measured and small steps.
Many of us have unrealized dreams. These are thoughts and desires that reside in your subconscious (or even conscious mind), but that you never act upon. The primary reason we do not take action is that we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of these thoughts and goals.
We tell ourselves that it is OK to just get by. That it’s fine to be happy with the status quo.
The first step to maximize your potential is to banish these types of negative thoughts. Instead, embrace the idea that you have unlimited potential, and that with hard work and determination, anything is achievable.
The best way to do this is to think big but start small.
Take carefully considered baby steps towards your goal, instead of jumping in with both feet without thinking first. Taking small measured steps will eventually become a habit, and like any habit, will be hard to break.
Before you know it, you have given yourself momentum and set yourself on a path to your goal.
4. Learn from your mistakes.
You can generally categorize your mistakes in one of the following three groups:
- Mistakes that you hide, both from others and by denying them even to yourself.
- Mistakes that you do not learn from.
- Mistakes that you learn from.
Focus on the third category to maximize your potential. This is where you want all of your mistakes to land in, as, let’s face it, never making a mistake again is not an option.
Below are some strategies you can employ to learn the most from your mistakes.
Try to maintain a positive outlook and keep things in perspective. Just this one adjustment alone will make a world of difference in your motivation and ability to stay driven. Forgive yourself from not getting started earlier. Forgive yourself for endless self judgement and being overly critical. Forgive yourself for not doing all the things you said you would.
Adjust your perspective. Don’t think of your mistakes as failures. It should be thought of as an opportunity for learning. Take valuable insights from every error you make and apply it to your future endeavors. Remember that you always learn more from failure, and you rarely learn from success.
Keep a record of the mistakes you have made, and what you have learned from them. This method helps reduce the chances that you will make the same errors again. It will also help you assess what you have done successfully, what needs improvement, and the reasons behind each result.
What would someone else have done? Put yourself in the shoes of others that could have faced a similar situation. What could have happened differently if you made a different decision? What if you had tried a different approach at the onset? Try to imagine various scenarios and their outcomes.
Seek input from trusted advisors or friends. They may be able to offer insights from their third party point of view. At times, you may unaware of certain things because you’re too close to the situation. Give yourself kudos where they are deserved.
5. Be confident.
If you are not confident in your ability to maximize your potential, you are doomed to fail. You need to believe that you have the capacity to do more and achieve anything.
Expect to be successful.
If you assume the worst, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Try to face each situation without a defeatist attitude. Go in with the expectation that you will be successful. Don’t allow negativity to undermine your efforts.
Have faith in yourself.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be discouraged by what you perceive as weaknesses. An area of so-called weakness should not be measured against your existing skill set, but rather, against what you are willing to learn. Be confident in your own potential.
Be able to roll with the punches.
Things always happen that throw us for a loop – and that is fine and to be expected. But don’t let that completely throw you off your game. Take in change and absorb it, but avoid letting it overwhelm you. Confident people do not let the unexpected shake them from their course.
Each time you make a mistake and then bounce back from it, it builds up your confidence to try again. Eventually, you will learn to always be confident in the face adversity. Soon, fear of the unknown or making a mistake will no longer hold you back.
Accept praise when it is due.
It’s human nature to blush when receiving a compliment, or simply shrug it off. You think that the person does not really mean what they said. Or that somehow, they do not perceive your true worth.
Yet when we receive negative feedback, it is so easy to accept that criticism and even dwell on it. If you have done something praiseworthy, learn to accept praise for a job well done. This will remind you that you are talented and skilled at what you do.
Practice makes perfect.
Try exuding confidence in all of your interactions with others. Fake it ’til you make it. Keep your head held high, always employ a firm handshake, and look people in the eye. Avoid stuttering, hemming, or hawing over your words. Speak in a direct, clear tone.
Repeat to yourself that every moment is an opportunity to showcase your skills. You have valuable talents to share with others. If others perceive you well, that enhances your own ability to be confident.
We all have a great well of untapped potential within ourselves. Learn how to access it, and your possibilities are literally infinite. Maximize your potential for a better career, more fruitful relationships, and most importantly, a sense of personal fulfilment, satisfaction, and happiness.