How’s That Whole “Reach Your Full Potential” Thing Going?

How’s That Whole “Reach Your Full Potential” Thing Going?

The phrase “reach your full potential” is dangerous.

As a goal, it isn’t specific. What does my full potential even look like?

Even if you can define what your “full potential” looks like, is it an attainable ideal?

Maybe some people think about this differently. But in my view, if I am to reach my coveted full potential, I must use every second productively. My life must be totally optimized for output.

And I am going to fail! At some point or another, my tire will go flat, or I’ll get a migraine, or there will be a blizzard and I will be late.

To me, feeling like I need to reach my full potential is akin to carrying an elephant on my back.

I’ve tried and failed to reach my full potential as an athlete. I partially tore my hamstring in a spring training session for the upcoming football season in college.

Hamstrings are slow healing, but with each passing day I felt I was falling further and further behind. So, I came back too soon and tore it again and lost another 6 weeks of training.

Maybe if I could accept that some circumstances do not allow for progress towards our full potential, I would’ve allowed enough time for healing and been able to train more.

Not to mention, the strangling emotional pressure that trying to reach your full potential can have. There’s no room for error and the pressure is stifling because the world is full of errors and to be human is to make errors.

Over time, I’ve learned to accept that every second cannot be used productively. Something will go wrong that I didn’t plan for. In those moments, I still have control over my response. I get to choose how to move forward in the face of adversity.

Something that’s aided my well-being is accepting that reaching my full potential isn’t possible.

This principle applies to my financial practice as well. Some of my clients want to optimize every cent. This is impossible. At some point, an unexpected cost is going to rear its ugly head.

One of the most critical elements of a financial plan is understanding how to weather the unexpected. What will happen if your income is reduced, or inflation is higher than expected, or you need to take care of a family member?

Your financial life, just like every other aspect of life cannot be totally optimized. Fulfillment is easier to find when we aren’t seeking full optimization.

Part of being well is how we respond when things aren’t going well and remembering that as humans we can continually improve or learn.

On my podcast, I’ve asked a lot of people what well-being is to them. Numerous guests have mentioned that it is a continuous process or journey and there isn’t an end point.

Every day gives us the opportunity to learn and improve at least a little bit. If we improve even marginally over a long period of time, we will be dramatically better in the future.

Today, I know I won’t reach my full potential, but I know I can learn a little bit and work on becoming a better human. This shift has helped me to feel significantly more well.


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Alex is a registered representative and investment advisor representative of Securian Financial Services, Inc. 4355529/DOFU 2-2022