When we’re young, people talk a lot about our potential. Teachers often tell parents their children are not living up to all their potential. They see so much on children and want them to flourish. But as we grow older, we tend to lose this ‘potential’ mind-set. No one encourages us to keep developing. Well, I have news for you: you still have potential – and it can still be fulfilled. There’s much more on the inside of you to be developed and expanded.
Reasons Why You Are Not Fulfilling Your Potential
Very few people can claim that they have achieved all that they are capable of. In the Western world most of us do moderately well. We get an education and a succession of jobs; we have some relationships that work; we are well fed; we avoid penury and destitution. We can take comfort in modest achievements. But for many people there is a nagging feeling that they could have done much, much more with their lives and careers. They know that their talents went undeveloped. So what is that is stopping you right now from making a much greater contribution to society? What is it that is preventing you from fulfilling your potential?
You do not have enough belief in yourself
All successful people have enormous self-belief. They know that they have something special to contribute and they are determined to make their mark. This does not mean that they are arrogant, narcissistic or complacent. On the contrary, they are self critical and push themselves hard because they know that they can achieve more. What is it that is special about you? What is the talent that you have not developed? What do you know you are capable of?
You do not measure yourself against written goals
It is hard to make progress if you have no clear goals for your life. Most of us muddle along from one thing to the next. Successful people define their objectives and measure progress against them. You should set yourself targets in the areas that are important to you e.g. career, wealth, health, relationships and social life. There are many books giving detailed advice on goal setting and they reinforce the point that the most important thing is to write your goals down and track progress. If you do not achieve some of the goals then reset them. You can be flexible and adjust how you move forward but you must keep moving. Do you have written objectives that you track regularly?
You are too comfortable where you are
It is easy and natural to settle into a rut. Why try something new when you are already doing what you are good at? High achievers go further. They take risks. They move out of their comfort zones. They take on difficult challenges. They push themselves to acquire new skills and to face new examinations of their abilities. This means that they run the risk of failure. Where are you right now – inside your comfort zone or taking risks?
You are lazy (sorry but it could be true!)
Thinking and planning are great but it is action that leads to success. It is only by doing things that you change the world. If you have clear goals but are not making progress towards them then look at your activity level. If you are a writer are you writing enough? If you are a salesman are you selling enough? If you are a leader are you leading enough? Great sportsmen and musicians practise for hours each day. Picasso painted over 20,000 pictures. Persistence pays dividends. How high is your work rate?
You work on low value activities
To succeed you need to focus on the important and strategic goals – not just the urgent day-to-day stuff that consumes so much of your time. How much of what you are doing is advancing you towards your key objectives? Try to eliminate the low value activities that absorb your energies and release time for the really important things.
You are not mixing with enough high achievers
Let’s face it – your friends and family are really nice people but they are not challenging you to achieve more. Spend more time with high flyers and positive thinkers who understand ambition and achievement. Share some of your thoughts, dreams and challenges with them. They will encourage you and give you the direct advice you need. How much time are you spending with really successful people?
Simple Ways to Be More Productive Every Day
Productivity is a measure of efficiency of a person completing a task. We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day. Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently. And no matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important.
Being productive is about maintaining a steady, average speed on a few things, not maximum speed on everything.
Personally, I feel that being productive helps you fulfil your potential because you are focusing on one task at a time. The more you complete a task, the more your confidence grows as you know you are doing things that really fulfil your passion and goals.
Below, I list out simple tips that will help you learn how to be more productive that work for me that you can apply to your life. These have been broken down into three categories:
- Deep thinking
- Tips and tricks
Each category has a different angle for how to increase your productivity. Combined, it works like magic. 🙂
The planning category is all about how to be more productive through your planning. Here are my best planning tips for productivity.
Schedule results and outcomes (not to-dos)
Instead of scheduling what you need to work on during a period of time, schedule the outcome and result you need to get during that time. For example, don’t schedule “work on blog” from 12pm-3pm. Instead, schedule write 1 blog post from 12pm-3pm. You’ll force yourself to actually produce more if you schedule this way because you’ll be accountable to what’s actually getting done and not what you’re working on.
Use the mornings for your hardest or most important task
Even if you’re not a morning person, whenever you wake up and get your coffee, your mind is clear. It’s a fresh start to the day and you’ll have the highest ability to focus. Do your hardest or most important task during this time to get it done first.
Intentionally create a morning routine
A morning routine is made up of the activities you do before your work day starts. Incorporate things that will motivate you like podcasts, reading, prayer, meditation, or journaling. Or, use it specifically to get your #1 goal done. Whatever you do, be intentional about it. I love my morning routine – I use it to pray, journal, and blog.
Wake up 20 minutes earlier every day
This will give you more time during the most important time of day. I know you may not think you’re a morning person, but increasing how early you get up by 15 or 20 minute increments at a time is a great way to ease into it (that, and going to bed earlier!).
Time-block your schedule
Look at your calendar in the week and month views and find big chunks of time where you can schedule big products that require a lot of focus. For example, I might time block 12pm-4pm on a Saturday afternoon to produce a YouTube video.
Batch your tasks
Instead of working on 10 things every day, split up what you do into different days and batch them. This increases your productivity. Bulk tasking is more efficient because you’re more focused. For example, I typically only write blog posts on Mondays. This way, it’s done and I can focus on other things throughout the week.
Obsesses over your schedule
Constantly look at your schedule every day to review it, evaluate it, and make changes to it where needed. Get in the habit of looking at your calendar at night, first thing in the morning, and periodically throughout the day. Don’t just look at today. Look at the rest of the week and month. Spend at least 15 minutes a day on your schedule at first. It should be such a habit that you are very time-conscious and highly productive within a month.
Stick to your schedule – no matter what
Time should always be on your mind. It should be a huge emergency if you have to cancel plans. This is what it means to be a professional. You do things even when you don’t feel like it. Otherwise, you won’t be productive no matter how much you plan. Take as much of the thought out of it so you don’t change your mind.
The deep thinking section is about knowing why it is you want to be productive in the first place. There’s no point to doing things more efficiently that never needed to be done in the first place. You may not realise it, but deep thinking will increase your productivity because your actions are a result of your thinking. Change your thoughts and you change your results.
Answer deep life questions
Deep thinkers are more productive than everyone else. This is because deep thinkers feel very strongly about what they’re doing and have a strong sense of purpose. They know their why.
Know your “why” and remind yourself of it whenever you’re doing something
The stronger you associate your why with the tasks you’re doing, the more likely you’ll be to follow through. Here’s a post about Finding Your Why that will help you do this.
Question everything that’s asked of you
Ask yourself if it’s really necessary. If it’s not, try to get out of it. Definitely do not do something just because someone else wants you to. This will get you into big trouble and will crush your own productivity.
Have clarity about your future
Think about your future. Practice being decisive. The clearer you are on your direction, goals, and purpose, the more productive you’ll be. I heard that Oprah asks what the purpose and objective of a meeting is for every meeting she’s in. Can you imagine if you had this type of clarity and focus?
Tips and Tricks
These tips are things that I find helpful for increasing my productivity. They’re random and help me take it up a notch with getting everything done.
Don’t check social media until a certain time of day
E.g.: wait until 10am to check social media and email every day. This will help you have laser focus for the first few hours of the day, which are the most important.
Use the Passion Planner to help plan your weeks
I’m obsessed with the Passion Planner. It’s a physical planning tool that helps you prioritize tasks so you get the most important things done every day and week.
Say “no” once every day
This will get you more comfortable with saying no. Being able to say no is so important. Warren Buffet said “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Any time you make a decision ask yourself if it aligns with what you want in life.
Write everything down
All of it. We have a tendency to forget and think we’ll remember things, when we won’t. Use an app (I use and love Evernote for this) to keep track of ideas or anything else you want to jot down.
Adopt a neutral wardrobe
This is random, but it works. Sticking to only wearing neutral colors takes so much decision-making out of your life. Whatever you can do to minimize decisions in an area of your life, do it. This will leave more head space and time for the important stuff.
Meal plan for the week on Sundays
Just like planning your wardrobe to minimize your decisions, you should do this for food. Spend Sundays (or another specifically designated day) to plan your food for the week. This will help you spend less time during the week on meals so you can spend more time doing things you actually want to be doing. I know a lot of people who use and love Simply Cook.
Download time-saving apps or task management apps
A couple apps I use and love are:
- Day One Journal,
- Reminders (on the iPhone),
Educate yourself on productivity
Read books and listen to podcasts. You have to focus on learning how to be more productive to continue to grow and make it happen.
A Final Thought
The person who can motivate you, change you and get the most out of you is in the mirror. Build your self-belief. Set yourself clear goals and measure progress against them. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Take on some difficult challenges even though you risk failure. Significantly increase your work rate. Focus on high value actions. Mix with top achievers. Ask yourself this – do you want a safe, comfortable existence or do you want a life where you achieve something really worthwhile?
Potential is the difference between what is actual and what is possible – the unexposed ability, reserved strength, unused success, dormant gifts, hidden talents, and latent power that lies within each of us.
All of creation – including you – possesses the hidden ability to accomplish even more than we do today. In us right now are the seeds to be all God (you can say the universe) has created us to be. Let’s live up to all our potential and fulfil all the purpose in our hearts.
Here are resources I highly recommend for more reading on this topic…
Unshakeable by Christine Caine
7 Habits of Highly Productive People by Stephen Covey