How do you feel when you get out of bed each morning? Stuck, confused and anxious about the way your life is panning out? Perhaps you feel destined for greater things but you don’t know how to take the first step or maybe you don’t even know what steps are involved. When you don’t know what to do, it’s human nature to play things safe and stay in your comfort zone. However, as high performance and productivity coach Abigail Ireland explains, playing it safe is the quickest way to never achieve your potential. If you suspect you’re aiming too low in life, here are six ways to know for sure and how to turn things around.
You function on autopilot
Problem: Are you cruising in life without questioning what you do and why you do it? Perhaps you don’t have a clear purpose that underlies the choices you make. If you’re not thinking strategically about how you spend your time, how will you move closer towards your goals? Having no direction will keep you stuck and aiming too low in life.
Solution: Spend time figuring out your vision and values. Write a list of these and then compare your daily actions with them. Does your behaviour align with the values that matter to you and the goals you want to achieve? If the answer is no, it’s time to make some changes.
The excitement is gone
Problem: You’re bored. Your days are predictable and pretty uninspiring. Every day is Groundhog Day. You’re comfortable and you have a safe, familiar routine…but that’s not enough. You feel restless and want to inject some spark back into your life.
Solution: Get back in touch with the real you. What activities make you happy and excited? What are you doing when time seems to fly. Find ways to add more of these activities into your daily routine.
You’re not learning
Problem: It’s a great feeling to know what you’re doing, but you can’t develop without learning. Complacency and inaction don’t maintain greatness, they lead us to get left behind. Do you know exactly what you will be doing each and every day? Can do all of your home and work tasks with your eyes closed? If so, you’re aiming too low and no longer pushing yourself.
Solution: Self-growth and those “a-ha” moments only happen when you open yourself up to new experiences. Hence, we must keep learning to stay at the forefront. Make an effort to try new things on, at least, a weekly basis, and stick with it… even if you’re no good at first.
You’re letting fear hold you back
Problem: Prospect theory shows that we tend to focus more on what we could lose, rather than gain, when making decisions. When was the last time you felt butterflies because you were nervous about doing something that challenged you?
Perhaps you resist volunteering for projects outside of your zone of expertise, you shy away from public speaking or you make excuses to avoid certain situations. If this sounds familiar, it’s likely that you’re letting fear dictate your life.
Solution: Ask yourself, would you say yes to these opportunities if you couldn’t fail? It’s only when you step right out of that comfort zone, that you can reach new heights. Be brave and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You may have to make sacrifices but some of the best things in life stem from challenging circumstances.
In 2017, my mantra was “Do something that scares you each day”. When I felt the fear, I did it anyway and I stopped caring about messing up. It’s all learning at the end of the day. Try it.
You have self-limiting beliefs
Problem: Are you swayed by the stories you tell yourself or the stories imposed on you by others? Do you succumb to others’ views on how to lead your life, what makes a successful career and so on?
Solution: Don’t conform to how things “should” be and definitely challenge the status quo. We sabotage our dreams by limiting ourselves to other people’s beliefs about what is possible. Take some time to ask yourself what you truly want, and then focus on this. Do things your way and trailblaze your path.
You surround yourself with the wrong people
Problem: As the saying goes, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. It’s nice to be a big fish in a small pond, but if the people around you don’t challenge or push you, it’s time for you to step up and play a bigger game.
Solution: Your circle of influence is more powerful than you realise. Studies show that your direct and indirect networks impact your success, chances of smoking, weight and even your happiness. In what is known as a network phenomenon, the Framington Heart Study found that you’re 6% more likely to be happy if a friend of a friend of a friend is happy with their life.
Find people who challenge and push you to be the best version of yourself.
So there you have it. If any of the above signs resonate with you, there’s no question about it: you’re aiming too low in life.
Why not take the time to assign a Sunday morning to reflection and planning. You have the power and choice to make things happen, so take control and start living your best life.
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