I feel like I haven’t lived up to my potential in life.
Does anyone else feel that way?
I have been trying to figure out what my “thing” is, what I excel at, what I am better at than others and can do in such a unique way that people will stop and say, “YES. This is your thing. This is what you were meant to be, what you were meant to contribute to the world.”
I am 37 and still haven’t figure out what I want to do. I feel the potential, I feel like there is this alternative life just beyond my reach that I should be able to grab hold of like a lifeline and use all of those unrealized gifts I was given to blow it out of the water.
But. There is life that seems to get in the way. The laundry. The shuttling to swim lessons. The deadlines. The damn dishes that no matter how many times I wash them they just KEEP. COMING. BACK. How can I reach my full potential if I can’t even catch up on the dishes?
I have started to unravel the mystery of this, teasing a small thread from the tapestry of life, slowly picking apart the stitches and seeing how it all comes together. I thought I might share these ideas, nuggets of inspiration and feelings in hopes that you might get a step closer to realizing how to unlock your full potential.
Realize that yesterday doesn’t hold you back from tomorrow.
I was listening to the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher today for the first time, and stumbled upon an episode that I needed. It was the right topic, at the right time, for the right person. The topic was Calling All Introverts: How You Can Build a Personable Brand with Morgan Harper Nichols, a poet and musician. I loved listening to how she stumbled into so many opportunities, even though she didn’t fully realize her potential. The part that truly spoke to me was her most pinned poem, though- entitled There Is More To You Than Yesterday:
Yesterday helped form who you are today, but it doesn’t dictate who you will become. Your past doesn’t have to foretell your future. THAT, my friends, is up to you.
You’ve come a long way, but you still have a long way to go.
Another podcast that I listen to (see the pattern here?) is Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. I pick and choose among her shows, filtering out ones that don’t strike my fancy and honing in on those that I think will benefit my journey. She had a two part session with Dr. Phil, and I figured Whoa, if she is dedicating two sessions to one topic/person, it is probably pretty impactful.
My takeaway was what Dr. Phil said about looking at your life as a timeline. Imagine you are on a line that stretches from 0 to 83 (or so…I guess this is average life expectancy?). Stand on that line at the age you are now. Look back, look ahead. Yes, there are a lot of years behind you, but there are a lot of years to go.
And here is a Dr. Phil-ism for the books- “If you aren’t doing something you are passionate about, you need to stop what you are doing and find out what that is and do that. Because this is not a dress rehearsal.”
The time is now. Forget all of those years you have spent doing something because you had to, because it was expected of you, because you thought it was the right thing. Figure out your passion now and do that. There is still time, but start now.
How people see you and what they think of you is none of your damn business.
the past few weeks, I have been sprinkled with people’s misconceptions
of who I am. From the knowledge that a “friend” literally stood up in front of a group
of women and told them that I thought I was better than them (yeah, I don’t think that about anyone FYI)
to two women in a day being shocked that I mow my own lawn. One blurted
out “You work??” (there is a language barrier, so I am not going to
assume she thinks I sit on my ass all day) and the other assumed I was
too fancy to do that. Ok, I may wear a dress to cut the grass, but I get the job done in my own way. And if you want to tell other people how to perceive me, it is up to them to believe you or think for themselves.
This isn’t who I am. I don’t
think I am better than anyone, and I am not too fancy or lazy to work. I
have to laugh at this, and get straight in my head who I am and what I
represent and believe that narrative. I need to keep telling myself the true narrative and not give a damn what other people’s perception is of me. Because I can’t control that. I can only control myself.
Keep your word to yourself.
I was cruising the FabFitFun site and stumbled across a list of Inspiring Books Every Mom Should Read, and saw one that caught my eye. The reviews were off the charts, almost a perfect 5 star rating by thousands of people. It is the #8 book on Amazon’s most read, and is by the CEO of Chic Media (which I had never heard of but apparently should already know about).
The book is Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. Now, even the title rang a few bells for me. Here is a list of things that I keep telling myself:
I am not athletic or able to get in shape.
I will never make enough money to make an impact.
What I do work-wise is merely a hobby and doesn’t matter.
I am bad at maintaining a household.
This is just a sample of the hurtful things I believe about myself. But are they true? Only because I keep perpetuating the myth.
The quote that caused me to grab my highlighter in this book was:
“I realized how hard I was fighting to keep my word to other people while quickly canceling on myself.”
WOW. This blew me away. It allowed me to see the things that I believed about myself, and why they were true. I wasn’t keeping my word or promises to myself, but I was tripping over myself to keep my word to others. Let’s take another look at that list:
I am not athletic or able to get in shape. For the longest time, I secretly believed that only pampered ladies of leisure worked out, and it was an indulgence that was selfish. Um…wrong. I kept answering emails from others, scheduling meetings with others to help their cause, only to keep postponing the meetings with myself to exercise. If I can’t take care of me, how in the hell can I take care of anyone else?
I will never make enough money to make an impact. Yeah, I do a lot of things in the blogging/social media world for free. I recently learned that a friend was paid a decent amount of money to attend an event that I attended. SHE WAS PAID TO BE THERE. I drove my ass downtown, sat in traffic for 1.5 hours, almost cried because I was so stressed, then sat in another 1.5 hours of traffic on the way home. For free. To cover an event. Well, I am starting to realize my worth. She isn’t “worth more” than me just because she has a few more “followers” on social media. My time is just as valuable. Watch out PR reps and brands, because I no longer work for free because I am doing you a favor…by doing this, I am doing my self a disservice and canceling promises to myself.
What I do work-wise is merely a hobby and doesn’t matter. Really? What does “matter” mean? Writing helps me first and foremost- it is my version of mental yoga. I have realized so many things in life, unlocked so many mysteries by just putting pen to paper. This matters. Also, I have had people try my ideas, sympathize and empathize with difficult situations. If I can help just one person, even if that person is myself, it matters.
I am bad at maintaining a household. Well, this one is kind of true, but what is bad vs. good? Would I be good at maintaining a household if everyone’s laundry was done every day, placed perfectly in their drawers, dishes were always done, never piled in the sink, dinner was on the table promptly by 5:30pm each night, including a perfectly balanced meal? I would have missed so many moments in life- saying yes to playing Legos with my son, coloring with my daughter, reading a book myself, decompressing. Eh, I would rather live a life with adventures and experiences and take care of myself than be “good” at maintaining a household.
Ohhh and another incredible, inspiring book you need to pick up if you are feeling a little “less than” is You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I re-read this every few months to remember what a complete and utter badass I am. Even if I don’t know it.
In order to live up to your full potential, first you need to figure out what you want. What are you passionate about? What is important to you? What makes you feel good? Happy? Fulfilled? Content?
Then, do those things. Skill be damned. Others’ opinions be damned. I am not saying just give up on your commitments and obligations, just be more choosy. “Slow down your yes.” (more insight gleaned from that wash your face book).
Your potential is up to you. It isn’t pre-determined, and your success in life isn’t measured on a generic scale. You get to decide what success looks like. Don’t compare your success to others- all it does is rob you of the ability to celebrate yours.
Cheers to reaching your potential in life and figuring out what you are passionate about and how to do that!