One of the things that most people struggle with when they are building their own online business is that nagging feeling that they aren’t reaching their full potential and that somewhere they are missing out on opportunities because of it.
It’s a form of lingering self-doubt that we all have. I struggle with it on a frequent basis as I think about all of the things I want to do and could be doing. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself sitting at my desk at 11pm at night, making a list of the things I need to get done and then just stopping…
“Geez, there are so many things not getting done…”
And that’s when it happens.
You find yourself thinking about the things you don’t have and the stuff you would be getting if you just managed to hammer out all this other stuff.
It can be really frustrating.
An example from my own experience…For nearly two years I’ve been thinking about building my own “academy” made up of video training courses across a variety of topics. I see myself creating a new course every two to three months and making it available to recurring members or to people as one-off purchases.
But I don’t get to it because I get busy on other stuff and well, life gets in the way.
I think about it, shake my head and think about how much I’ve “left on the table” by not following through on that project.
Same thing with creating a podcast and writing books.
I could make a list.
You know what the mistake is?
At times like that, I’m forgetting about all the things I have done! I am not thinking about the successes that I’ve had and the other projects/initiatives that I’ve worked on.
It’s a very negative mindset.
So, how do we get out of this spiral and focus on maximizing our potential?
For me, I already gave away part of the answer.
In Evernote, I keep a master “projects” list that ranks things in order of priority for me to complete them. Whenever I have a new idea, it goes to the bottom of the list and every month or so when I sit down and re-rank the things on the list, it gets assigned a priority in the list.
That delay in taking new things on was something I added to my process back in mid-2015 to stop myself from just getting distracted by shiny objects. When I just add something to the list and then have to come back to re-prioritize it, I give myself a cooling off period so that I don’t get distracted.
The other thing that you need to do to maximize your potential is a two-part self-assessment:
- Where do you want to go?
- Where are you at right now?
Those seem pretty easy, but they are surprisingly challenging for most people because they require a level of self-introspection and reflection that can be a bit painful.
Start at the first point, “where do you want to go?” This is really about understanding what outcomes you’re looking for and what objective you set for yourself.
The simple truth is, most people don’t have realistic objectives. I see people all the time talking about building seven figure life coaching businesses with a base of zero clients.
You might have lofty ambitions but that’s not a great objective.
Using that example again, think about the scale you’d have to have to make that possible. You’d have to have dozens of clients and multiple income streams running in harmony to even get near that.
So to maximize your potential, start by making your objective achievable and then iterate them as you progress.
That feeds in nicely to the point of “where are you at now?”
If you’re just starting out, you need to be realistic about your current situation and your existing capability.
You might want to become a legend of the UFC, but your first fight probably shouldn’t be against Conor McGregor.
By knowing where you’re at and where you’re heading, you can create a realistic plan for achieving your objectives.
And then you have to put the work in.
The worst thing about overwhelming yourself is that it paralyzes you. You see a huge bunch of opportunities and things you’d like to do and instead of working on the things that will slowly, but surely move the needle today, you spend your time daydreaming or feeling bad about the stuff you don’t have or can’t do.
To be the best version of yourself, you need to stop thinking about what “might have been” or “what could be” and zone in on what you can do right now to execute your short-term plan.
And the last thing?
Reward and congratulate yourself for hitting your targets. When you stick to your plan and you get the things you need to do, done, give yourself a pat on the back. Psychologically, it is one of the best things you can do is celebrate your victories and accomplishments.
To be successful, people say you need to keep your eyes on the prize.
But the truth is, to get the most out of yourself, you need to break the prize up into a series of smaller, progressive wins and concentrate your efforts on picking those things off.
Steady, consistent effort focused on doing the right things over a period of time is the best way to maximize your own potential.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.