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In my last post, where I asked, “Are You Reaching Your Full Potential?” I promised that I would define what I think it means to reach your full potential, and explain how you can do it.
I define “reaching your full potential” as being the best “you” that you can be. Being in your sweet spot where you feel the most fulfilled, the most on-purpose, and where you’re making the greatest difference in the world. Knowing who you are, what you’re good at, and how to maximize that for the greatest good.
How do you reach your full potential?
Step One: The journey to reach your full potential begins with a process of self-discovery and introspection, where you take a good, long look at yourself by…
- Identifying your unique talents, skills, gifts and abilities. Start by making a list of all the things you’re good at and enjoy doing, whether for work or play.
- Clarifying your dreams and goals for the future. Create a master dream list and write down everything you’ve ever wanted to do, be, have and achieve. Next, of all those dreams you wrote down, which are the ones that might shape your life’s direction? Highlight or put a star next to those.
- Revealing your personal values. These are the non-negotiable principles that are most important to you. For example, your values might include: being debt free, being home with your family at least four nights a week, growing in your faith/spirituality, maintaining personal health. You get the idea. Write them down.
- Uncovering your personality tendencies. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you take action immediately or procrastinate? Are you extremely organized or a clutterer. Do you get things done, or do you leave projects half-completed? Are you self-motivated or do you need outside motivation and accountability?
- Discovering your interests and passions. Passions are interests or causes that are important to you – the things you’d give your life for. Maybe your passion is to help at-risk youth stay in school, or you want to improve the lives of people living in sub-Saharan Africa, or maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom whose passion is to encourage other moms to stay at home at raise their kids. List all the passions and interests that come to your mind.
- Reviewing your life experiences: your jobs, education, volunteer experiences, major achievements, and major crises. These all shape who you are, and can influence who you are to become. List the skills you’ve learned in your job, education and volunteer experiences. Then list your major achievements and crises. You might ask, “Why in the world would I want to list the bad things that have happened in my life?” Good question! I’ve found that often, the things that caused great pain in our lives are the things that can bring great joy as we heal from them and decide to help others who are experiencing the same thing.
You can write all of these things down in list-form on a piece of paper or a computer document; however, I like to see everything at a glance, so I lay it out in a one-page mind map. You can create a mind map on paper, but I prefer to use web-based application called MindMeister, which allows you to work both online and offline. Here’s a sample mind map, created with MindMeister, to help you get started:
Don’t feel you have to do this all at once. In fact, it’s probably best that you don’t. Take your time. Work on it a few sections at a time. And when you think you’re all done. Let it sit for a few days, the come back to it and see if anything else came to your mind that should be added.
So, once you’ve completed this process, what’s next? In my next post, I’ll explain what you should do with your mind map when I share “How to Reach Your Full Potential, Pt. 2: Clarify Your Purpose in Life.”