“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.