Are you living to your fullest potential right now? How do you know if you are or not? Do we even realize if we are doing things to live to our fullest potential. One of the things that is clearly not is time wasting.
We all waste time, it's a fact, unless you manage to plan every minute of your life at work and outside of work. Wasting time can be a sort of therapy for a hectic life. But how do we know if we are wasting our lives? It's a subtle thing to be sure. We are all doing what we normally do, but is it really living the full life that we want? If you are doing these 5 things that I list here and are not aware the implications that they will have on your life, then you are definitely wasting your life.
1. Passive reading on your smart phone
Nowadays, our way of reading has been transformed from reading a book to reading a kindle to reading a smart phone. This transformation has its good and bad. For one, we can find all sorts of information on the smart phone through the internet. On the other hand, most of the time, we never finish reading anything on the smart phone except for the headlines. It is easy to switch to the next article or the next juicy news just by a click of a thumb. It is very convenient and we get to know more things, at least that is what we believe is true, but what does that do to our memory? Not much because we will not remember what we have read. One very good personal example to illustrate this would be the movies during a long distance flight. I have tried watching 4 films on a 10-hour flight and secretly I felt that it was an achievement and I would remember the films that I have watched. On the contrary, because after 12 hours I struggle to recall which film I started, let alone the sequence of each film.
Reading on the smart phone has a similar effect because we are clicking from one article to the next very quickly with little attention to identify and remembering the main ideas. I call this passive reading.
Passive reading is indirectly wasting time if the information that we read do not retain in our memory.
2. Not overcoming your fears
Fear makes us lead a smaller life and limit what we are willing to try. What it does is keeping us in the background and watch life pass us by. On the other hand, fear exists for our protection as an early warning signal. But there is a difference between healthy fear that tells us to step away from the edge of a cliff and a constant fear that keeps us from living to our fullest potential.
The worst scenario would be the fact that deep inside us we know that we have potential to be XYZ or to do ABC, but we were to afraid to go for it, hence years later we ask the 'what if' question.
What if I had gone out with Alice?
What if I had accepted the job offer?
What if I had moved to another city?
What if I had started my own business?
These questions are asked daily by people who have not even made the first attempt to start due to fear. In general, what are these fears? It could be fear of being judged, commitment, failure, getting hurt, lacking time, etc. When we look deeper into the reasons for not wanting to do something, it is often related to fear that gives us the little voices, which very often turn out to be our excuses. Being aware of these excuses that we give to ourselves will lead us to a process of learning by taking some active steps to battle the fear that controls us.
Facing our fears is a process. The best first step that we can all do is to change our daily language with ourselves.
3. Lacking self-awareness
Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self including traits, behaviors, feelings, habits and everything else that makes us tick. This is our inner world and self-awareness is not only about what we notice about ourselves but also how we notice and monitor our inner world. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, has proposed a popular definition of self-awareness in his best-selling book "Emotional Intelligence", as "knowing one's internal states, preference, resources and intuitions".
The more we know about ourselves, the better we are at adapting life changes that suit our needs. One important example that I have mentioned above relates to a process of learning after being aware of our fears and excuses. This is similar to self-improvement because self-improvement does not come before self-awareness.
Self-aware people tend to act consciously rather than react passively. Being present and paying attention to what is going on inside or around us instead of operating on 'automatic pilot' will have a significant impact on the story we are telling ourselves, the way we relate to self and others, and the decision we make. One of the decisions that we will definitely make is to live the real life now and live it to our full potential.
4. Lacking motivation
A lack of motivation is a difficult one to solve because there are many factors that contribute to it. We often hear the words:
“I don’t have the motivation to do this because they … or because the system … or because I have / don’t have …”
Examples above are all related to external factors. This is similar to blaming the external factors for the “victim” position that we are in.
What most people keep forgetting is that our ultimate goal is linked to the key ingredient of motivation called the big ‘WHY’. Sometimes, a WHY is not sufficient if it is not powerful enough to give us the drive to take the first and subsequent steps to reach that goal. When the going gets tough, we will hear the ‘little voices’ in our heads doubting our ability and suck all the energy and will power from us and this is where a powerful WHY comes in to reject these voices. Being persistent in what we do and never stop when the going gets tough will eventually lead us to discover our full potential.
Therefore the first thing to do is to pinpoint what is causing our lack of motivation and then we need to find ways to trick ourselves into getting it back.
5. Playing the victim
We have all played the victim before. It starts with our childhood when we blame the nearest and most strategic people like our brothers or sisters. As we grow older the habit continues with blaming other family members and co-workers.
At the same time, people who play the victim often feel sorry for themselves. They have a habit of pitying themselves. This is a consequent habit from first comparing themselves to others.
When we play the victim, we stop ourselves from growing because all the energy and focus will be poured into comparing, feeling sorry and blaming instead of taking steps to progress in life and see life as a wonderful platform to live our lives to the fullest.
The victim must learn to avoid thinking that they are the only person in the world that has experience sad, difficult and unfair circumstances. They must change their views and recognize that they have good qualities and likely have experienced privileges too. Life is not all that bad when we do our best to live it.
Final Thoughts ...
Reaching our full potential every day can become stressful if we do not manage our time well and take the time to recharge. Living up to the fullest potential will not happen in one day neither will it happen by accident. It will slowly happen over a period of time and only after we decide to take action to do so. So decide to take small steps each day towards that direction.