Career | Real Life

Are You Living Up To Your Full Potential? Here Are 5 Simple Exercises


A few quick ways to get you thinking about your future in a big way. The sooner the better.

“Be yourself,” the Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde once wrote. “Everyone else is already taken.” Wise words, but “being yourself” and reaching your full potential is often easier said than done. It doesn’t always come naturally to look inward at who we truly are and the person we want to become. If you’re ready to start your journey of self-discovery, these five simple exercises will get you thinking about the person you are, the person you’d like to be, the future you want and the legacy you’d like to leave behind.

writing in notebook - your full potential

#1 – Write your biography

Imagine that you’re a writer who has been assigned to write a short biography detailing the life and times of a much older you. What would you be remembered for? What accomplishments would be highlighted? What impact would you have had on the lives of others? The point of the exercise is to get you thinking about your life in hindsight so that you can create the future you want—and take the
needed steps to make that a reality.

#2 – Make a list of your ten best qualities

It sounds deceptively simple, but the truth is that we tend to undercut our talents and accomplishments. Put false modesty aside: this exercise is meant to build your self-esteem and encourage you to proudly acknowledge everything about you that’s wonderful and unique. Are you funny and make people laugh under any circumstance? Do you have a great singing voice? Are you the person that your friends turn to first in times of crisis? Don’t be afraid of patting yourself on the back: if you are it, own it!

#3 – Take some positive risks

Step outside of your comfort zone. Do something that you’ve always wanted to try. Put aside your fear of being embarrassed or failing and just do it. Take a free dance class. Do karaoke in front of a crowd. Audition for a play. If you face your fears and take those positive risks, you’ll prove to yourself that you’re capable of so much more than you think! It will make your world bigger and allow you to take on the challenges you need to overcome, to get you to your goals.

#4 – Change a “should” to a “will”

Make a list of the things that you should be doing and then ask yourself, why aren’t you doing them? If you should be spending less time online, tell yourself that you will spend less time online. If you think you should be volunteering your time at an animal shelter, tell yourself that you will do it. We often don’t realize how much we procrastinate or make excuses until we see it laid out in front of us. Examine what’s stopping you and follow up with practical steps to change every “should” into a reality.

If you’re not quite ready to give something up just yet, put an asterisk beside it for now. This exercise is designed to set you up for success, not failure. Re-visit your “should” list in a month. Have you moved forward? How many items can you check off as being complete? Are you ready to tackle some of the items on your list that you weren’t ready for before? Re-visit, revise and always keep yourself moving forward until “should” thinking becomes a thing of the past.

#5 Be your own best friend

Imagine that your best friend just told you that he or she wants to run for class president. Imagine your response and how supportive you would be. Now, imagine how you’d respond to yourself if you made the same announcement. How supportive and encouraging would you be? Too often, we engage in defeating self-talk before we even try or do something. You might tell your best friend, “I think you’d make a great class president!” but tell yourself, “I’m just not popular enough to win.” In order to succeed in school, and eventually in a career, you have to silence the negative inner voice that  makes you doubt yourself. When in doubt, remember: you should never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend.

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