post written by: Marc Chernoff

10 Surefire Ways To Live Below Your Full Potential


Ways To Live Below Your Full Potential

This guest post was written by Celes Chua.

Do you know that most people never utilize more than 0.1% of their true potential in their lifetime?

It’s true.  The thing is, human potential is unlimited.  Unlike computers, you’ll never come across a situation where your brain says the hard drive is full.  You can constantly push your limits, reaching greater heights, only to find that you’re not even reaching a fraction of your true worth!  Believe it or not, you harness more power than you can ever imagine.

Unfortunately, many do not utilize their true potential, and lay it to waste by engaging in tasks that are a poor use of their time and energy.  Here are 10 sure-fire ways to live below your true potential:

1.  Harp on the past instead of focusing on the present.

Some people spend their lives living in the past.  They lament about what has been, what they could have done, and why they didn’t do that.  However, the past is the past, and no matter how much time we spend thinking and lamenting about it, it doesn’t change anything.  To spend time moping about what has been is to waste the person you can be.

There were times in the past when I wondered how things would have been if I did X instead of Y.  Or if I did Z instead of Y.  However, after that I’d ask myself, “How would this change anything?”  Me sitting here and thinking about the past does absolutely nothing to change things and improve my life.  Instead, it is only by thinking forward and taking action that I’m able to live a truly fulfilling life.

What kind of future do you want to create?  What actions can you take to create this ideal future?  What have you learned from the past that will help you in this journey?  Asking and acting on questions like these will help you to maximize your present moment so you can live your best life going forward.  For some practical guidance on living in the present, I recommend The Power of Now.

2.  Get caught up in the details vs. the big picture.

If you’re a perfectionist, you might find yourself caught up with perfecting details on a regular basis.  If so, you’re not alone - I’m the same way.  I spend a lot of time editing the nitty-gritty, so that everything can be perfect and the way I envision it to be.  For example in my articles, I can spend an hour or more looking for the perfect photo that expresses the exact intention of my article.  I can spend hours just improving my blog and forums so that my readers can get the perfect experience.

However, I have come to realize that by spending all my time on the details, I’m not making the best use of my time.  According to the 80/20 principle, 80% of the results we can achieve comes from 20% of our actions.  In trying to achieve the remaining 20% to get the perfect 100% outcome, we have to spend 80% more effort!

Some of us may think that we should do everything to achieve the best outcome.  While I agree with this, it fails to hold true outside of certain situational contexts.  For example, while it may be gratifying to get the best picture for each blog article, the extra time spent looking for that best picture prevents me from working on higher value tasks, such as writing new books or creating new challenges for my readers.  It goes without saying that one hour spent on the latter adds more value than one hour spent looking for a picture.

By looking at the big picture, it helps you realize what does matter and what doesn’t so that you can then channel your energy accordingly.  The Gifts of Imperfection is a good read on this topic.

3.  Let yourself be affected by minor issues.

Sometimes we may be affected by a hurtful comment or discouraged by a small setback.  While these emotions are justified, often times these events are insignificant in the long run.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  5 years?  10 years?  30  years?”  If not, then it’s probably not worth your energy to think about these things.  Concentrate on things that do matter in the long run instead.

4.  Blame others for your plight.

Is there anything you’re blaming others for in your life?  Are you blaming the economy for not getting the job you want?  Your parents for giving you “fat” genes?  Your boss for your workload?  The world for lack of opportunities around you?  The universe for not giving you the life of your dreams?

The extent to which you can live your dream life depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame someone/something for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility.  You give others power over that part of your life.  For example, if you blame your parents for your obesity, you’ll continue to remain obese because in your mind they are the reason why you’re obese.  You’ll never have the power to change the situation until you take responsibility for it.  When you take 100% responsibility for your life, be it your career status, your health, your relationship status, your finances, your friendships, etc, that’s when you’re set to achieve the life of your dreams.

5.  Complain.

It’s okay to complain once in a while as a way to vent, but doing it too often makes you a magnet for negativity.  Whenever you complain, you give your power away to the universe.  For every second you spend complaining, that’s one second you could have spent creating the life you want.  Rather than lament, think about the actions you can take to improve your situation instead.  Every time you do, that’s one step toward the life you’ve been dreaming about.

6.  Try to do everything by yourself.

Are you someone who likes to do everything yourself?  So do I - but over the years I realize that this prevents me from achieving more.  In trying to do everything, including the nitty-gritty, less important details (see #2), that means you’re not able to do the higher level, important things like your biggest goals and dreams.  Start by delegating, outsourcing or removing the less important tasks and scaling yourself up to do the more important ones.  You’ll notice a big difference in your productivity.

7.  Set small goals.

Many people set small goals because they’re afraid to fail.  Actually what they’re really afraid of is to realize that they’ve always had all the power to achieve everything they want and that they have wasted their own time and dreams.  You have all the potential and power in this world to achieve everything you want.  Stop settling for less and set your highest goals today.  You owe it to yourself.

8.  Bottle up unhappiness.

Bottling up your emotions is like creating a bomb that will eventually self-implode.  Every time you bury an emotion, you’re weighing yourself down with baggage.  The best way to deal with your emotions, whether happy ones or unhappy ones, is to lay them out on the table and face them.  Don’t hide from your problems.  When you do you’re just hiding from yourself.  I found a great way to clear emotional baggage is to use the brain dumping exercise, where you dump your emotions in a journal for about 10-15 minutes.  Try it - you’ll feel lighter almost immediately.

9.  Think that you cannot do it.

As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”  There is nothing more powerful in the world than our beliefs.  Our beliefs are the lenses we use to see the world.  If we think we don’t have the power, then our minds will find the evidence to support that thought.  If we think we have the power to achieve what we want, then similarly, our minds will automatically lock down on all the evidence that supports that thought.

Our limitations have little to do with the world, society, people, or anything like that – our limitations have always been within us – our beliefs.  My personal motto is that as long as there’s the will, there’s always a way.  Nothing is impossible to achieve in this world.  For some practical positive thinking guidance, I recommend The Magic of Thinking Big.

10.  Procrastinate on your goals.

Procrastination is the best way to bury your potential.  Do you want your goals to never come true?  Sure, procrastinate on them.  I’ve never in my life seen a happy procrastinator.  Everyone I know who procrastinates usually holds a heavy heart, because deep down they want to achieve their goals.  Deep down they know they are meant to live their dreams.  So stop procrastinating.  Start by first identifying what you’re passionate about, then go from there.  As long as you’re doing what you love, you can never go wrong.

Be sure to check out my past guest posts on Marc and Angel:

About the author: Celes writes at The Personal Excellence Blog, for people who are passionate about achieving their highest potential and living their best life. Get her free ebook 101 Things To Do Before You Die by signing up for her free newsletter. Check out her articles: 101 Ways To Live Life To The Fullest and 101 Important Questions To Ask Yourself in Life.

Photo by: Norma Desmond - Book recommendations by: Marc

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18 Comments

  • i love the post Celes and Marc, especially the first point. At many times we are held back because of thinking about the past instead of future possibilities, many thanks :)

  • That was me. Yay!
    Yes reverse psychology works for me — I’m such a baby sometimes but now I’m growing up.

    Thanks to great mentors like you! :)

  • This is awesome Celes. I especially love what you’ve said about the 80/20 rule. I believe in it wholeheartedly, but I have to remind myself all the time to stop obsessing over every detail.

  • What an awesome list of things NOT to do! Each and every one of these are so powerful and can really hold us back if we allow them to!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bernice
    Get enough sleep

  • I recently found Marc and Angel’s blog, and also Celes’ blog, and I’m so blown away by all the positive, important topics you all write about.

    Just wanted to thank you guys.

    My favorite topic in the article was about procrastination. Sometimes I find myself getting distracted by something else far less important.

    The key is getting rid of all the unnecessary distractions in your life, so you can focus on what’s real to you. :)

  • Thank you, Celes, for this insightful guest post.

    Much appreciated. ;-)

  • Thanks for always providing exceptional work Celes, Mark and Angel.

    I am a huge fan of the topic of reaching your ultimate potential. It’s a shame we let ourselves get comfortable with the 10 points you mention here as well as many others.

    We have a free ebook on our site called 4 Steps to Reach Your Ultimate Potential and Balanced Life.
    Your reader’s are welcome to download it if they want some more help with this subject.

    http://www.balancedworklife.com/coaching

  • Hi!

    I’d would just like to say thanks for these amazing articles each week! They provide me with exactly what I need, when I need it! And, unlike almost every other blog I read, your articles usually get filed away for future reference (or printed out to post around and share with others when they come up in conversation).

    Dan

  • How can one reach .1% of infinity? ;-)

  • What can we do in our lives, all that we could ‘potentially’ do, is mind-boggling.

    And very inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing Celes :-)

  • Marc, I had to laugh as I read through the list saying, “Done that”, “that too”. Makes me realise that it’s easy to pull ourselves down even if we moan when the world supports it. A great post that was a shot in the arm for raising your own flag more.

  • life changing article for me i must say ..!

  • Thanks for the great list. The one I’m struggling with is #6. I’m such a control freak, and that’s fed by the perfectionist gremlin in my head. Not a good combination, but at least I’m aware of it and determined to improve.

  • Great post. #2 and #10 are the two I struggle with the most.

  • Shoot, I’m guilty of at least 8 out of 10. I really do need to take more action instead getting stuck in the details. I consider it perfectionism, but really it’s just procrastination.

  • Loved this article! Well written and full (I mean packed) of great insights. The first line alone had me inspired to get moving. Every point had me thinking about myself and ways to be more productive. Great article.

  • I’m glad I found this blog. Great blog, and post. I found this blog via the Stumbleupon website. Ever sense I started reading this, I’ve noticed so many things about myself, that I could start changing. Well, that’s the first step in progress, noticing that you need to change and not others. I’m currently working on my own website, adding content, etc, getting it ready for the public, etc. Thanks for all the advice, this will help me a lot in the long run, and I may have to come back here for future references. Just in case I feel like I’m missing something. I think I’m going to subscribe to this.

  • It’s so easy to get caught up in the small details and overlook the big picture. Thanks for reminding me about what is important.

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