3 Lies to Eliminate to Start Living Up to Your Potential

Woman holding a star

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln

I used to think that I would motivate myself to really live up to my full potential by reminding myself how much I wasn’t.

Well, that didn’t work.

Not that I didn’t get any results from chanting “You are so not living up to your full potential!” while getting out of bed, driving to work, doing the dishes, and combing my hair. Any time was a great time to remind myself. So I didn’t waste a second doing just that.

And I got results. Only not the ones I expected.

I became an expert on mindlessly browsing the web. I became an expert on constantly comparing myself to other people. I became an expert on feeling stuck. I became an expert on driving myself crazy with my non-stop “you are so stuck” chatter in my mind.

I felt drained, stuck, and low on energy; these were my daily companions.

So it shouldn’t be any wonder I grew less and less fond of my so-called motivational mantra that was doing anything but, well, motivating.

I’ve realized that living up to our full potential starts with eliminating three big lies:

Lie # 1. It’s productive to beat ourselves up about not living up to our full potential.

When we spend all our energy telling ourselves we’re not doing good enough, we have very little time and energy left to look inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I was very busy.

I was very busy searching for my full potential. I read tons of books. I completed lots of quizzes to find my true talents and the right job for me. I browsed the job section of newspapers. I looked at what other people were doing.

In short, I was looking everywhere—except inside.

I wasn’t paying attention to what gave me energy. I wasn’t paying attention to what fascinated me. Instead, I was writing the pros and cons for potential jobs but reaching a dead end time and again, as I failed to neatly add and subtract all the items from both columns into one overwhelmingly clear answer.

I’ve come to believe that we already know what it means to us to lead a rich, meaningful, purposeful life. It’s just a matter of paying attention.

And listening to ourselves.

And taking action and checking in with ourselves to discover what feels good, what energizes us, what feels bad, what drains us, and what fascinates us.

It’s a matter of allowing ourselves to explore and experiment, one tiny step at a time. And adjusting where needed, using our energy levels and our fascination as a compass to guide us in creating an energizing, brilliant life that inspires us.

Lie #2:  Living up to our full potential means living a life free of fear, failure, and sorrow.

I convinced myself that living to my full potential meant living happily ever after in some kind of perpetual state of bliss.

I’ve come to believe that this is a myth.

Living up to our full potential means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It means realizing we are living up to our full potential because of, and thanks to, the mistakes we make and what we learn from them.

Living up to our full potential means seeing things as they are, not the way we think they should be, and taking action from that place.

It means allowing ourselves to feel the way we do, not the way we think we should feel.

It means diving in and exploring why we are feeling the way we do.

And that’s when we find our answers. That’s when we reconnect with our full potential. That’s when we start tapping into our brilliance.

Lie #3: We’re not good enough.

When we tell ourselves “You are so not living up to your full potential!” we’re basically telling ourselves “You are not good enough the way you are right now.”

And that is such a disempowering lie.

I’ve learned that it is my choice whether or not to believe that lie. It is my job to let go of that lie and choose an empowering perspective instead.

I’ve learned that I can make that choice every minute of every single day.

So that’s what I did. I made that choice. And that’s what I do, time and again.

I’m being the best me I can be, right here, right now.

I’ll be thriving tomorrow thanks to the mistakes I am willing to make today.

Living up to our full potential is not trying to avoid making mistakes. It’s giving it our all, wholeheartedly, with all we’ve got.

I am now reconnecting with my full potential through everything I do.

I choose to explore. I choose to explore me. I choose me.

Living up to my full potential is doing my thing, one tiny step at a time, at my pace, in my own fabulous, imperfect way.

Some will like it, some won’t. Living up to my full potential is being cool with that instead of trying to please everyone else.

I’m done living someone else’s life. Living up to my full potential is giving myself permission to be who I am and tapping into my unique me.

I feel empowered, scared and excited, proud and determined, playful and inspired; these are just a few of my new daily companions on this long, fascinating, winding road that is living up to my full potential.

And they didn’t come into my life by accident. I choose to invite them in. One empowering thought at a time.

And so can you.

About An Bourmanne

An Bourmanne loves mentoring people pleasing perfectionists to confidently and unapologetically do their thing in the world and create a sizzling life that makes their heart sing and soul soar. She rediscovered her long-lost love for teaching and writing, which she does weekly at

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  • MarshMallow


  • Very powerful and relevant. Thank you!

  • Jeffri5000

    Great article

  • Sweetgabrownin


  • sus

    Love it!

  • LOVE that!!! Thank you for writing it!!!

  • Sgtbarbara51

    received this after reading ANO ANO The Seed by Kristin Zambucka
    talk about driving a point home

  • I love this!  Thank you!

  • Azurelune

    If I could post the whole article as my status on Facebook I would! 🙂

  • this is something everyone should read every day, thank you, Namaste

  • Sandeuss

    Your article has eloquently spoken the truth of my mind and heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Great article! Combined with the other one that was sent out in today’s blog, it was a perfect combination for initiating a happy and content life!

    I have done this to myself my entire life! I get so caught up in the, “you could have done better, why didn’t you do that, you could have been something truly amazing!” That there are days I forget to live and most importantly reflect and learn. Thank you for reminding me to recognize and appriciate life’s real journey!

  • Anonymous

    “Living up to our full potential is not trying to avoid making mistakes. It’s giving it our all, wholeheartedly, with all we’ve got.”

    So empowering! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Bluetangdesign

    I really needed this article to remind me its all inside! Thank you.

  • i commit the same mistakes ALL the time. good to know i’m not in the same boat 🙂
    thanks for the encouragement
    Noch Noch

  • Tinarose29


  • Karina_gonzalez23

    Great post, thank you. I love the line, I choose to explore, I choose to explore me, I choose me. Thank you for such a great site!

  • An

    Thank you, Karina!  I love that line too 🙂  I use it a lot to ground myself and remind myself what it’s all about – choosing me.  Time and again.  Because from that place of being truly abundantly me, I am putting the best me I can be out there in the world, wholehearteldly and abundantly.

  • An

    Thank you, Andre!

  • An

    Aww, thanks so much, MarshMallow!

  • An

    :))  Thank you, Tinarose29!

  • An

    Hi Noch Noch!  The way I see it, making mistakes – even the same ones – is just part of figuring it all out, showing up and putting yourself out there.  I’ve made tons of mistakes and am still making them.  And I’ve learned that I can pick myself up again, dust myself off and move on any time.  Next week, tomorrow, right now.  And all are fine, there’s no should’s, just a knowing that I can work through my self-judgments and crappy limiting beliefs any time I choose.

  • An

    So glad you loved it, Bluetangdesign!

  • An

    So glad you loved it, Jodireg!  I can so relate to the “you could have…” self-criticism.  What I’ve learned is that those phrases still pop up, but that I can choose to deliberately change my perspective once I catch myself talking myself into a disempowering story.  It’s a practice of being aware and changing my perspective on things as they are (not as I think they should be) from a disempowering to an empowering one.  And it’s from that place I can start taking inspired action.

  • An

    Aww, thanks so much, Sandeuss!

  • Nyse4

    This sounds like me except I am still stuck and I doubt this will help me getting out of it… The sad part is that I am ivy league educated and unemployed bc I am too disgusted to look and apply for a job I had so many NOs that in the end it seemed like a waste of time. I am just mind numbing myself everyday.

  • Llanaraymaker

    This came to me in such a timely fashion. Thank you for gently sharing such a powerful and empowering message. Every blessing.

  • Totally TRUE! I’m guilty of lying to myself and making myself feel bad, to try to motivate myself to do better.

  • Elisabethgriffiths

    This has spoken to me in so many ways and has given me the strength to continue in the hard decisions I am making at the moment. I am allowing myself to ‘feel the way I do, not the way I think I should feel’. So powerful and inspiring. It makes me realise that until we are living towards our full potential, how can we be ourselves. Thank you x

  • Ambede62

    Wow did I ever need to hear this message today.  The 3 lies are so much a part of my everyday internal talk, that to see them presented this way was overwhelming!  Thank you for sharing this.

  • Thank you for this great post. It put a lot into perspective for me in exactly the way I needed.

  • Mae

    Hi Nyse4, I just wanted to chime in and say that I know where you’re coming from. After I finished the contract with my last job I spent a little over two months trying to find something on my own before finally swallowing my pride and signing up with a local temp agency. I started my current job a week later. I do consider myself underemployed, but even a little money and work experience are better than none. Plus, you might end up loving your job (and finding out you’re pretty darn good at it) just like I did. 😉 Your next job might not be your dream job, but it might lead you to something that is. Best of luck!

  • Hello everyone! Through some strange comment issue that I don’t fully understand, some of the author’s responses to your comments are not showing on the site. She took the time to respond to everyone and provide further insights, but for some reason they refuse to publish! She wanted me to thank you all for taking the time to write. If any of you would like to chat with her about this topic, you can contact her at an(AT)ownyourlifecoaching(DOT)com!

  • Morita

    If this site is not about you, but about us, and you are practicing openness, how about disclosing the financial gains and losses you have with all the advertising and visitors on this site?  There is nothing mean spirited in this simple question. I look forward to your reply. 

  • Morita

    Let me clarify–this is not for the author of this article, but for the owner of this site.  Perhaps it is better posted elsewhere?   I will search around. Thank you.

  • Hi Morita! I don’t know if you noticed, but I didn’t actually write this post. (I run this site). I would be happy to disclose the financial gains and losses. A lot of the advertising in the sidebar goes back into the site. (You also mentioned the visitors. I don’t actually receive money based on the traffic; the ads sell at a flat rate.)

    It costs $350/month just to keep the site running (the server costs and the cost of the email newsletter service), and then I also pay people for design and coding. Some of the advertising money goes back to me, and I am so grateful for that! I put 20+ hours per week into running the site, and that would not be possible if I didn’t receive some financial compensation to pay my bills.

  • This is exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for the amazing post!! 

  • inspiredgreatness

    I laughed out loud reading the whole introduction. I love this! Thank you for this article, it is such a refreshing take on things. So important to be aware of where we are living in our hearts, even if we think we have the best intentions with our minds! 

  • Raghav

    very good one….


  • repus

    Thank you very much for this reminder, as we can either be our own worst enemy, or our greatest friend, depending on the lies we choose to believe & how we navigate through life. I choose to live, I choose to love, I choose to fall down & get back up, I choose to be me & to share all I can to help everyone I can reach in the process! Thank you again for doing the same! Namaste…

  • Aaron F.

    I enjoyed this. Thank you.

  • Lovely

    This post is exactly what I needed. I got stuck in overanalyzing everything I have ever done in my life and deciding that it was just not good enough, I became unhappy with everything I’ve done – which, ironically, I’ve been up until now – and got stuck in the vicious cycle of constantly telling myself that I am not living my life up to my full potential which even got me depressed. So this post is a real eye-opener. Thanks!

  • Kimmi Mosley

    I am so glad that you took the time to write this article. It motivate me right when I needed it the most. Thank you!

  • Cielo

    This was just what I needed this morning. I swear it was God-sent. Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Matt

    Thank you. This article is very inspiring, and I can relate to every weird of it. This has been a real eye opener. Again, thank you!

  • Matt

    He he, word, not weird. Stupid Swype!

  • lostintheweb

    I don’t know you at all, nor you I, but thank you.

  • Dude

    Thanks you truly for this. It found me at the right time.

  • Veganzombie

    this is good!

  • joanne

    I can’t say I love this enough. I read plenty, moreso because I enjoy it, and I’m also seeing a therapist to help me get through and over past traumas. But your words are exactly right as I see it over and over again. You are exactly right and very inspiring article!

  • Robin

    As much as I’d hoped to enjoy this article, seeing a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that is decidedly NOT his own sorta ruined it for me. Come on! A basic google search will confirm that this aphorism did not originate with Honest Abe, but likely an Edward Steiglitz ad campaign from the 20th century. Perhaps I should feel motivated – clearly anyone, (including me) can get elementary articles with glaring mistakes published online. I expected better, tiny buddha.

    “never believe what you read on the interwebz” – George Washington

  • Pitalila

    Wow, I am very moved by this article. Its totally written out of my heart – the lines ‘I became an expert on mindlessly browsing the web. I became an expert on constantly comparing myself to other people. I became an expert on feeling stuck. I became an expert on driving myself crazy with my non-stop “you are so stuck” chatter in my mind.’ describe how I feel right now** thank you so much about your empowering and uplifting article! *** I would love to know how are you doing today?

  • Thank you, such great insights on such an important issue. I think part of the problem is also how we think and what we value. For most of us, during our schooling we are taught to focus on outcome rather than process. We then start thinking of life in terms of destinations, “when I get or achieve, then I’ll be happy/feel fulfilled/reach my potential”. We also focus on the future rather than paying attention to the present.

    Perhaps we need to rethink what reaching our potential is. What if reaching your potential could be something we could reach moment to moment, that the potential for change is in the present rather than some distant future. I think we need to retrain our attention to focus where we can make the impact: right here and right now.

  • Seth

    Awesome post! Thanks

  • Dee

    I love you’re breakdown of the 3 lies and they are SO true! We ARE good enough – we are just the way we are for a reason. Thanks for the insights!

  • Vanessa1202

    This was such a great post. I’m bookmarking this, because it truly made me feel better. It’s ironic: if every single person eliminated these lies, our world would be a different place. THANKS FOR SHARING… I enjoyed it and it made me happy!

  • Julia Lewis

    I removed a negative abusive professional career from my life due to the people whom were not grateful in my life for me doing that profession to excellence for many years. Why lie to yourself in regards to a career that is not meeting your standards to whom you are as a woman?

  • dtrip

    I like the “feeling the fear but doing it anyway”. This is true. Some people have it, some don’t. It is also one of the many (different) definitions of dignity. I’ve been there during my 20’s and a little 30’s. Now Im 43 and too disappointed by life and people to keep going. But at least I’ve been there.

    I envy people who managed to live their whole life “in fear, but doing it anyway”.

    But I pity people who just “dont have it”, but try to find it by reading advise. It doesn’t work like that.

  • somedia2

    Thank you. This is exactely what i feel while im traveling in argentina. I thought to find a New plan while traveling to argentina with my boyfriend. But on the way i got scared and lost my own zelf. I started focussing on the things i had difficulties with. The language money and not being with my friends and the biggest thing i start focussing on how unindependent i became because of this. It made me feel lonely and sad and fearfull. The Small things keep me good but everyday i found this struggle. And it did not motivate me instead i lost energy a lot of Energy i could actually use to do things i like but i could not find it. I got stuck in it because my mind drives me crazy. Untill now. this article gives me a lot of recognission and i start to see where i should put my energy in. Stop putting energy in things im told to do but put more energy in me. Listen to myself and believe more in myself. Im not what i cant do im what im able to do and thats great. I have more inside me than im now telling myself. Thank you for opening my eyes!

  • Nadia

    Thanks An for sharing your journey.
    I love, “I am being the best me I can be, right here right now”
    Now that I am 28 I am questioning my full potential and starting to follow the things in life that fascinate me, and you’ve just reminded me to keep on searching xx