In order to maximize your potential, you must first have an understanding of what you can achieve.
There’s a lot that goes into determining your potential, and even more to execute it. Read on to learn some simple steps that can help you determine the best path forward for you to achieve maximal growth this year.
Determine Your Potential
We all know that person the one that when they pick up a new sport, hobby, or activity they just jump in head first and are immediately good at it. It can be frustrating to see your friends successfully run a half marathon with little to no training, or join you on the pickleball court and lead your team to victory.
When it seems like some people are just born with infinite talent it’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands in frustration. Thankfully there’s good news. This research study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology took a look at two identical twins at 52 years old who took two completely different life paths and analyzed their body type, blood profile, cardiovascular and pulmonary health, as well as muscle size, strength, and power. The results speak for themself, the body you’re born with matters less than the actions we take and how we train.
So how do you determine your potential?
The most important step you can take is to recognize that your potential is uniquely your own. The only person you can compare yourself to is yourself. It’s healthy to want to “Be Like Mike”, but you have to recognize that you will never be “the next Michael Jordan” or “the next Simone Biles”, you will always be “the first you“.
Step One: Identify what you truly want in your life
Take a quick inventory of your life and ask yourself some of these questions:
- What in my life am I already good at?
- What do I want to be good at?
- What brings me joy or “fills my cup”?
- What am I good at, that actually brings me little to no joy?
- How can I learn from my past successes and failures to make me better?
Taking some time to answer these questions honestly and thoughtfully can help you recognize where in your life you’re currently wasting your time, and where you could spend more time to bring more fulfillment. Journaling is a great way to reflect and have something to look back on and re-assess as you move forward with your goals. If you’re looking for a physical journal that can guide you through some thought exercises check out this list. If you’re like me and prefer to type or talk out your thoughts check out the Day One App or others like it to get you started. While you’re answering these questions keep in mind that research study from up above and recognize that it’s less about what you have and more about how willing you are to work towards your goals.
Step Two: When you have the destination in mind, take time to plan the steps ahead of you
It’s important to map out the steps ahead of you if you want to be successful. You don’t walk out of Costco, see Mt. Baker and just start walking towards it. If you want to summit Mt. Baker you need to plan ahead, looking at specific steps with measurable outcomes that are reasonable for you to achieve within a realistic time period. This is the concept behind SMART Goals which we will be taking a deep dive into later this month.
Step Three: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Having a clear idea of where you want to focus your energy and time can be hugely motivating in and of itself, you may want to hit the ground running hard. If you dive headfirst into 6 pools, without first looking at what might be at the bottom, you’re likely to end up with quite the headache.
There’s a reason yo-yo dieting is so prominent, and for those who don’t know, there are significant bodies of literature on the effects of heavily restrictive dieting and the rebound weight gain within 3 years after stopping the diet. The heavy restriction, drastic steps, and overnight lifestyle changes just aren’t sustainable for the overwhelming majority of people.
Take the small, meaningful, but sustainable steps to help you realize your goals without burning up on take off.
If you struggle to take those small meaningful steps daily or weekly and are looking for a little external support and accountability, I cannot recommend the app Habitica enough. It is an incredible app that turns life into an RPG (role-playing game) with 8-bit styled characters, quests, pets, mounts, and it’s all focused on helping you build healthy and sustainable habits with an enormous online community of people committed to helping themselves and others.
Step Four: Take a water break along the way
Not only is it vital to set goals, but it’s equally essential to follow up on them periodically. Stop, take a water break, look at where you came from, and all the obstacles you’ve overcome to get to where you are now, as well as what obstacles stand between you and where you want to be.
If you’ve achieved your goals, set new ones, if your goals were too aggressive at the beginning reassess, make sure that they are realistic and reasonable to you and your potential.
Even the greatest among us fail at some point, it’s what makes for an interesting story! When you fail, take a moment to self-reflect, meditate, try and identify if anything along the path was avoidable and what steps you can take to prevent or minimize the risk of this happening again. Take one more look at all the obstacles you’ve overcome and get back on the path, taking one consistent step after the other to help you reach your maximum potential.
You've Laid Out Your Path; Now What?
These steps shouldn’t be followed in an evening or even in a week. You should really take some time to reflect, set some SMART goals, review and re-assess them before you set out on the path laid out for you. It’s crucial to understand that even with regular “water breaks”, you’ll still likely get burnt out every now and again but follow these suggestions below and you will build systems of accountability to help make any rebound much easier.
- Find a community of people who share similar goals and motivations that can help keep you accountable
- Local gyms, running groups, book clubs, etc.
- Seek the help/guidance of a professional
- Activity-based? Find a coach or trainer.
- Mindset-based? Find a mental health professional.
- Money-based? Find a financial advisor.
- Spiritual-based? Find a spiritual guide.
- The Calm App is easily one of the best on the market for guided meditations as well as peaceful soundscapes for unguided meditation
- There is an ever-growing body of research that shows that reading books helps strengthen the brain, prevent cognitive decline, and decrease overall stress.
- If you haven’t stopped by your local library recently, make sure to pick up a library card. Books, e-books, and audiobooks can all provide valuable insight into your goals and how you can help yourself achieve them.