To fulfill our true potential, we need a healthy dose of self-awareness. Studies show that only 15% of us have high self-awareness, despite 95% believing they do. To enhance self-awareness for the sake of your potential, I suggest starting with reflection to identify what is initially holding you back.
    How to Overcome 13 Obstacles Preventing Your From Reaching Potential
    15 minutes reading + practice
      What is Human Potential?
      Human potential is the ability to live and self-actualize in accordance with their life values. In other words, it means participating in activities that you truly enjoy, desire, and find meaningful.

      To unlock your full potential, a combination of external and internal self-improvement is necessary, along with the development of your skills and talents. For some, this may involve self-realization in work, raising children, and other aspects of life. For others, it includes a holistic daily practice of self-improvement, nurturing the body, soul, and mind.
      Abraham Maslow is considered to be the father of human potential and self-actualization research. He wrote, "But once we feel supported, connected, physically and psychologically safe, we're able to take risks. It's the only way for us to reach our full potential," said Maslow.

      "You either step forward to growth, or you step backward to safety."
      - Abraham Maslow

      "Signs of Unrealized Potential" Bingo
      To see if you are making progress towards reaching your potential, listen to your own thoughts. Your own view of yourself is the first and most important sign of your progress. Here are some thoughts that might indicate you are not satisfied with how much you have achieved so far:

      What thoughts are spinning in your head?

      If you have at least 3 of these thoughts in your head while playing Bingo, then maybe you are about to experience a personal crisis, and this article is written specifically for you.
      13 Obstacles Preventing You From Reaching Your Potential and How to Breeze Past Them
      1. You're not sure what you want
      Or in psychology terms, you are unaware of your values.

      Many times, we don't reach our full potential because we're not sure about what we really want and where to find it. We live a life that society sees as correct or even successful, but it's not always what truly aligns with our values and desires. To unlock our potential, we need to understand what truly matters to us and take action in that direction.

      Understanding your true values can be the key to unlocking your potential. After all, it is your personal life values that guide you, inspire you, and give meaning to your life. They highlight the areas in which you can best self-actualize and derive enjoyment.
      "Earlier in my career, I followed the administrative track - first managing a department, then a faculty, and eventually the entire institute. This was because the people around me considered it the right path for professional growth for men. It had a significant impact on me.
      However, when I started practicing cognitive-behavioral therapy, I realized how much this path deviated from my core values. That's why I started changing my life towards what really matters to me (my true values):
      • helping others
      • contributing to our society's progress
      • supporting my local community"

      Dmitry Dyakov, Doctor of Psychology, President of the Belarusian CBT Association, Member of the European CBT Association, and my Supervisor

      What can you do?

      Start by reflecting on and defining your true life values. To avoid getting confused by temporary wants, other people's wishes, or fads, reach out to a cognitive-behavioral therapy expert. They can help you differentiate your true values from socially acceptable answers, like "Family, Career, Friends." By doing this, you will feel like you are living your own life instead of chasing someone else's dream.

      If you'd like to give it a shot yourself, I can provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to identify your personal values. It includes effective techniques and strategies based on cognitive-behavioral therapy research.
        2. You are disconnected from your core values
        It is important to not only know your values but also to integrate them into your life by creating goals and plans that align with them. By doing so, you can move towards your full potential and live a life that is true to you.

        Often, this does not happen, and people continue to live according to other people's values and trends. For example, they may be too self-critical or adhere to excessively high standards. Therefore, even after identifying their own values with a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) therapist, they still struggle to make changes. They may believe that their potential or values are not compelling enough to rebuild their lives around them.
          For instance, my client once said:
          "My discovered values are not cool. They resemble the values of an unemployed artist, rather than those of a successful woman."
          This person is struggling to accept themselves and is more focused on conforming to societal standards. A CBT therapist's role is to help them understand the true impact of following these values and the strategies to implement them, which will bring them great fulfillment.

          Or let's take Liza for example, my friend, whom I mentioned in the "How to Live and Plan According to Your Personal Values" article.

          Liza spent a long time working in Manhattan, serving cocktails to people like Beyoncé or Anna Wintour. She lived according to the rhythm of New York values and experienced burnout almost every year. However, her dream of hosting aesthetic and author's dinners was always delayed.

          So maybe you are living with values that are not your own. This can create obstacles to realizing your potential. In this case, I also have an article that will help you integrate your values into your life: How to Live and Plan According to Your Personal Values.
            What can you do?

            Once you have identified your core values, it is important to integrate them into your life in a way that provides guidance. This involves:

            • Setting goals and creating plans that are in line with your values
            • Making decisions based on your values
            • Surrounding yourself with people who support your values
            • Recognizing and celebrating your successes and achievements in these areas
            But if you feel that your potential or values are not cool enough, try conducting a psychological experiment:

            Step 1. Live by your true personal values for 3 months. Apply them in all aspects of your life and monitor your emotions. Keep a journal to track your mood and energy.

            Step 2. Over the next 3 months, live by values you find cool. Apply them in all areas of your life and use the journal to observe yourself. Keep track of your mood and energy.

            Step 3. Compare your life in these time periods. When did you feel happier, more motivated, and inspired? And when did you feel more stressed, anxious, and dissatisfied with yourself?

            Choose the set of values that you liked the most, and then start developing your potential associated with them.

            2* You are too connected to your values
            (the problem of idealists)
            Sometimes, our confidence in our ideals and vision of the future can blind us to the realities of others. When we solely focus on our idealized version of the world, it can impede our progress towards our goals, especially when working in teams and interacting with others. Therefore, it is important not only to uphold our own values but also to consider the values and perspectives of others. The sooner we understand the reality and motivations of those around us, the better equipped we will be to navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead.

            Understanding the reality and motivations of others allows us to strategically navigate our potential for success, much like playing a game of chess.

            "What can you do" part I will demonstrate with an example:

            "In the past, one of the biggest obstacles to my personal growth was my belief in an inherent justice within the world. I believed that the world follows a logical framework that everyone should follow. If someone in my professional environment did not align with my perception of what was right or wrong, I would quickly distance myself from them or end the relationship. However, in order to have a successful career or business, it is essential to collaborate with others, even if they have different values.

            Over time, I came to realize that my values are just a part of my own background and life journey and that everyone has their own unique experiences and perspectives.

            As a result, I have become more pragmatic and less emotionally driven. My focus now lies in building partnerships and relationships with employees based on a mutual exchange of interests."

            Serhei Divin, Сo-Founder of RE:DESIGN Academy of Visual Communication, Ex-Managing Director EPAM Systems
              3. You do not have clear goals and plans
              Sometimes, working harder without a purpose is not the answer.
              So, if you know what you want and your values, it's important to have clear goals and plans. Without them, your progress may become chaotic and your motivation may fade quickly. Often, people who lack clear goals tend to talk about their ideas without taking action.
              What can you do?

              Therefore, it is important to choose a life area that resonates with you and set your goals:

              • Inspiring
              • Specific
              • Measurable
              • Realistic
              • Time-bound
              It is best to set goals for each month and year based on your personal values.

              If you have a list of your goals for 2023 or 2024, see if these goals match your values. If you find goals that go against your values, ask yourself, "Why do I need this?". Otherwise, you might have goals that you don't really need, which can cause unnecessary worry and stress. You can find more about this in the article "Finding Your North Star: How to Live and Plan According to Your Values".

              4. You lack self-discipline or goal-oriented actions
              Pay attention to your ability to manage time and resources. To fulfill your potential, it is important to have a good level of self-discipline. Many of us are easily distracted and struggle to maintain focus on our goals.
              To stay productive, focused, and motivated, you can work on the following skills:
              - Planning daily or weekly tasks
              - Managing resources
              - Reflecting and evaluating one's results in a constructive manner
              - Addressing and solving problems
              Thanks to my work in IT, I have seen a huge number of tools for project management and personal productivity. But one of them appears groundbreaking to me, and I have been using it for the past 3 years thanks to my friend Vasili:

              "I like thinking because it has no limits. Everything is possible. Plus, I'm pretty good at it. So, I often find myself in situations where a week went by but I haven't done anything, only thought. That's why I built my Personal ProgressTracker.
              Every week, I've to answer to myself what I've actually done, and that helps a lot to spend more time in the realm of action, not thought."

              Vasili Shynkarenka, founder of AI Study Camp, Y Combinator alum

              What can you do?

              To develop self-discipline, try keeping your own Personal Progress Tracker. Once Vasya shared this tool with me, and it revolutionized my productivity.

              Choose a day and time for the productivity tracking session. Set aside 1-2 hours and refer to the table below. Allocate 1-2 hours and answer the questions on this chart in writing and clearly.
              5. You're not your priority
              • "Now is not the time for me."
              • "I have to take care of them INSTEAD of myself"
              • "I'm not up to it yet"
              Yes, sometimes it can be a really bad time for rampant self-development. However, if you have been making excuses and finding reasons for a long time to not pursue your dream, I suggest reflecting on where you are directing your strength and energy.

              When we spend too much time and energy on others, we no longer have any strength left for ourselves. And unless you start prioritizing yourself and your potential, even if it's just occasionally, you will always feel "too busy". I don't mean you should ignore others and focus only on yourself, but it's important to set aside some time for yourself if you want to live a happy life.

              What can you do?

              Set aside 2 hours per week for yourself and personal development. Do not skip these hours at any cost, even for other tasks. If you miss them, make up for the lost time immediately and get back on track.

              Then, create an action plan based on your values, so that at least 30% of your daily decisions are value-based. Within this plan, I recommend going through and completing the tasks from the previous 4 steps.
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              6. You do not take responsibility for your life
              To fulfill our potential, we must assume responsibility for our lives and take action. However, many of us hope for someone to recognize and discover our talent. These "Cinderellas" can spend their whole lives waiting for a miracle.

              Hello, childish magical thinking! I must admit, I used to be like that myself:

              "When I started my first two startups, I hoped that some cool investor would notice my talents and support me. I observed how others were receiving patronage, and I felt frustrated that it wasn't happening to me! I wanted to be a diamond that had been properly cut. But it didn't happen. So, when I turned 30, I realized that I was no longer willing to wait. And this gif perfectly captured how I felt at that moment."

              Waiting allows you to be inactive and avoid disappointments. However, this approach greatly hinders progress and can waste years of your life. Maybe it's time for you to actively take a stance and assume responsibility for your own life.

              What can you do?

              How to take responsibility for your life:

              1. Picture yourself in 5-10 years. Think about what might happen if you don't make any changes and keep living the same way, waiting and maybe putting the responsibility for your life and potential on others.
              • How will you be in the future? What will you do and how will you live?
              • Do you like the future?
              • Do you want to be there? If not, then keep reading.
              1. Identify your values and priorities. Define what you want to develop your potential in.
              2. Identify your sphere of influence. Highlight areas where you can take action and make an impact. Be honest and realistic. Write down what you can influence and what you cannot, as well as the available options. While we cannot change the weather, we can choose to buy appropriate gear for comfortable outings in rainy weather.
              3. Set a goal in this direction, break it down into tasks, and work towards them. Additionally, determine the resources (time, money, etc.) that you will need and identify where you can obtain them.
              4. Be proactive. While you may encounter obstacles and difficulties along your path, it is important to think ahead and consider how you can overcome them.
              7. You are hindered by unrealistic expectations
              I often meet people with unrealistic expectations and high standards. Such demands on oneself and one's potential tend to hinder rather than motivate a person. This happens because they fall into a vicious cycle.
                Ultimately, striving for perfection can backfire and cause us to become stuck, delay tasks, and feel disappointed. My IT experience has taught me the importance of taking incremental action and completing tasks at a necessary level, rather than striving for perfection. This approach helps me learn quickly and make progress.

                Here is an excellent example of how my friend Julia handled the high expectations of modern women:

                "As a mother, while also being an entrepreneur, I faced unrealistic expectations, scattered attention, and overwhelming guilt. This really slowed me down. On the outside, the culture of Silicon Valley, where I lived, painted a picture of successful women effortlessly juggling everything. However, as I delved deeper, I discovered that everyone has their moments of "failure," and my feelings of guilt started to fade away. That's when I chose to stop putting pressure on myself to be the "perfect woman" in every way, and I also refused to let others do it.

                The "Priorities in the Moment" approach is very helpful in balancing my roles as a mother and a professional. I prioritize my well-being and adjust my priorities as necessary. I focus on areas that need attention, recognizing that perfection isn't always attainable in all aspects at any given moment."

                Julia Prakapovich, a mother of two children, venture capitalist, Founding Partner at Interface Fund
                  What can you do?

                  For fans of high standards, there is an excellent technique from CBT called the 80% Principle.
                  It can help you manage unrealistically high expectations of yourself and your work. Try conducting an experiment by completing all tasks at 80% for a whole month. Before you begin, explain the tasks you have planned and what you expect from this activity. Also, share how you feel about this approach. Once you finish, review and record the results.

                  • How has your efficiency and speed changed?
                  • How has completing tasks at 80% influenced the outcome?
                  • How has your productivity and emotional state changed with this approach?
                  8. You are afraid to take risks
                  Modern psychologists link the fear of taking risks to excessive focus on fears of failure and negative beliefs, such as:

                  - "Failure is a disaster"
                  - "I don't know how to deal with problems"
                  - "Another failure? Ugh, I'm screwed. I won't be able to handle it, and everything will go to hell."
                  - "What if I screw up and everyone sees me messing up?"
                  - "I should strive to avoid problems

                  To unleash your potential, it is important to learn how to deal with the fear of failure and various negative and unrealistic beliefs. The key is to try to see the situation objectively, rather than with black-and-white thinking. Remember the great reward that awaits you on this journey.
                  Sure, taking risks can be scary, especially since our society tends to focus on success and ignore failures. But here's the thing, behind every amazing startup, there's a whole bunch of experiments and mistakes that the founders courageously tackle. My friend Anna knows a thing or two about this:

                  "When we were working on VOCHI, we frequently encountered dead ends where nobody knew what to do. In such moments, I allowed myself to be foolish. I stopped pretending to have all the answers because it was only slowing down the project. I took the risk of admitting that my expertise was insufficient. That's why I started asking everyone for their input and being open to different opinions. I believe this is one of the key things that helped me and our product grow."

                  Anna Buglakova, Product Lead at Pinterest, co-founder VOCHI

                  What can you do?

                  Focus on finding opportunities for growth and the reward you will receive if you try:
                  Step 1. Make sure you have your basic needs met in a safe way.

                  Step 2. Outline all the risks that may pose a threat to your desired goal. For each risk, create an action plan detailing how you will address it. Your goal is to predict any possible challenges and actively prepare strategies to reduce their impact.

                  Step 3. If you have completed the previous steps but still fear taking risks, work on your mindset and attitude towards failure, risks, and problems.

                  Instead of thinking:
                  - "Problems suck" or "Failure is a disaster"
                  - "I don't think I can deal with failing in front of everyone."
                  - "I am not good at dealing with problems."
                  - "I should strive to avoid failure.
                  and other negative beliefs about failures, risks, or difficulties.

                  Try to cultivate more positive and realistic attitudes:

                  - "Problems are normal in life, stay calm when facing them"
                  - "Most problems can be solved or I can learn to live with them."
                  - "I can deal with most problems and get better at handling them if I need to."
                  - "I won't kick the bucket if I mess up with this thing"
                  - "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
                  - "Failure isn't as crucial, what matters is the valuable experience I'll gain."
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                  9. You're waiting for a better time
                  Delayed life syndrome is a common phenomenon in today's society. Many people spend a lot of time analyzing themselves, preparing for change, or waiting for luck. They believe that when the perfect moment comes, they will start living a happy life. Instead of taking immediate action and making changes, these individuals constantly delay their actions, promising to do them "as soon as possible." As a result, they repeatedly postpone reaching their full potential and fail to make progress.

                  • "Now is not the right time."
                  • "My idea is not well thought out enough yet."
                  • "I haven't found suitable people yet."
                  • "I have little experience yet."
                  • "I don't have a big enough financial safety net yet."
                  However, there might not be a perfect moment to begin embracing your potential. Once you grasp this concept, life will start to showcase a variety of vibrant hues.
                  "Like many of my friends, I often face the issue of lacking energy to further develop my potential. The fatigue from my daily work sometimes leaves me without the strength or creativity needed. Another reason, which particularly affects me living in an expensive city like San Francisco, is the constant need to replenish my financial safety cushion. I greatly admire those who bravely step into uncertainty to follow their dreams—it requires immense courage. Perhaps one day, I will take the plunge and start teaching yoga."

                  Katherine Sakovich, CMO at Mira, #1 Fertility Tracker | Startup Mentor
                  What can you do?

                  Try starting with small steps that you can take to move towards your potential. They are detailed in steps 3 and 4.

                  If you're not sure when to make a decision, you can use this technique to evaluate your options and move forward. It's called the "Decision-Making Algorithm" from cognitive-behavioral therapy.
                  10. You avoid changes (fixed mindset vs growth mindset)
                  Perhaps you are a person with a fixed mindset. Some people think that intelligence, talent, and other abilities are natural and cannot be changed. If they are not very good at something, they usually think they will never be good at it. People with a fixed mindset often fear or even avoid changes. Unlike people with a growth mindset, who believe that intelligence and talent can be developed through practice and effort. They know that everyone was once a beginner.

                  To realize your potential, you must embrace change and learn to see growth opportunities within it. I have a client who has a fixed mindset. She strongly believes that:
                  1. She doubts her intelligence and talent, which leads to intense anxiety even during simple tasks.
                  2. She fears interacting with new people whom she perceives to be smarter and more talented.
                  3. She tends to view most failures as final, often failing to take steps to improve the situation or herself.
                  To help alter this mindset, we utilize various "reality tests" through behavioral experiments, observing the actual outcomes in real life.
                  What can you do?

                  Challenge the fixed mindset:
                  1. Choose a sphere
                  or an activity where you would like to test your abilities. Secure the support of at least one person who believes in you.

                  2. Detail your plans. Outline how you will proceed despite self-criticism. Establish a plan with objectives. Anticipate potential difficulties and devise strategies to overcome them.

                  3. Act. Positive thoughts fuel action. Even if you are unsure about success, make a decision and act.

                  4. Catch yourself when you think in terms of a fixed mindset. If you err, don't lose hope, instead, consider how to improve next time. Avoid saying that you're not cut out for this or not born to do this. Concentrate on your efforts and accomplishments.

                  5. Avoid overreacting to problems. If you encounter failure and believe you lacked the necessary skills, remember that learning is always possible. Your first attempt may not succeed, but don't lose hope. Use the experience to learn and try again. If the second attempt fails, be persistent. Replace the thought "I can't do this" with "I may not succeed immediately, but I can learn. Practice makes perfect.

                  6. Reflect after each significant effort. Reflection is crucial for a growth mindset. If you don't assess your role in your successes or failures, it's challenging to develop a strategy for self-improvement. Ask yourself about your efforts, strategies, and resources:
                  • Could I have practiced harder?
                  • Was my practice routine good?
                  • Could I get ready better for the next attempt?
                  11. Lack of Companions
                  If you are surrounded by people who do not understand you, do not support you, or even devalue your efforts, moving forward to your potential becomes extremely difficult.

                  Look around. Perhaps you lack like-minded people who share your interests, help you develop, or at least just believe in you. Especially if you see your potential in the business sphere, it will be hellishly difficult here without allies. And most often, those who can build strong partnerships come to success. Here is one of my favorite stories on this subject:
                  "After leaving my job, I decided to earn at least $1 by creating my own projects. I was a programmer, so I decided to make a simple, but technologically advanced mobile application. It was a reminder app, where you could add reminders via voice. This was all before Siri and before AI became mainstream. My wife helped me with the design of the app, the rest I did myself.

                  We earned well over $1. However, during the app's development, I reached a dead end, unable to understand how to further evolve it as a business. So, I turned to Yura Gursky to learn how to do business with him. First, we established a digital publishing house and released content apps for tablets and mobile phones. Then Flo was born. This partnership has taught me a lot. I can't imagine how I could have achieved this on my own."

                  Andrew Kovzel, Growth Advisor & Angel Investor, Co-Founder of Flo Health

                  What can you do?

                  To find allies who will assist in achieving your goals and support your journey towards realizing your potential, follow these steps:

                  1. Set a goal to locate people who share your interests. Participate in communities and organizations where you can encounter like-minded people. Even finding one such person can be significantly valuable.
                  2. Stay open to meeting new people and exploring new opportunities. Ask your friends to introduce you to interesting people. Don't hesitate to step outside your comfort zone and initiate conversations with strangers.
                  3. Be lively and real when chatting with possible allies. Ask questions, share your thoughts, and give suggestions. Help them with their projects and ideas. Share your knowledge and experiences with others.
                  12. Mental Health Challenges
                  Success can be hard to attain when you're grappling with your own mind. People with mental health issues often face additional hurdles.

                  • Depression can leave you feeling so exhausted and depleted that even simple tasks take three times as long to complete.

                  • Anxiety means having too many thoughts about the future that take your focus away from now. Constant worries can quickly drain your energy and increase negative thoughts about yourself.

                  • ADHD in adults often impacts those with high IQ the most. They may not use their full potential because they find it hard to finish tasks or they tend to give up right before they succeed.

                  • Personality disorders can make you spend a lot of time dealing with people who don't understand you. This takes away time that you could use to reach your goals.

                  What can you do?

                  Seek appropriate support or treatment from a psychotherapist, coach, or cognitive-behavioral therapy consultant. This type of specialist will create a safe space, help you to see things from a new perspective, and guide you in exploring new ways of thinking and being, thus unlocking your potential.

                  13. You worry excessively, reasonably or not
                  For the past 3 years, I've been developing products to help women manage anxiety, and I've also been working in one-on-one coaching. This experience has shown me that people with high anxiety have a lot of strength and unused potential. However, most often, these people waste their energy worrying about a future that, with a 90% likelihood, will not occur. I strongly suggest reconsidering this harmful habit.

                  Anxiety is a sign of strength and energy. Women with anxiety possess a valuable asset - abundant energy. With the right anxiety management skills and cognitive-behavioral therapy, this energy can be redirected to achieve great things.

                  People who worry constantly tend to spend most of their time worrying about the same things without doing anything to solve the problem. They often believe that worrying helps them cope with problems, but this is usually a misconception. It leads to nervous breakdowns, an inability to relax, and burnout. Problems need to be solved with action, not worry. Here are some common misconceptions about the usefulness of worry that may hinder your progress:

                  What can you do?

                  So, if you're already fed up with your "What if..." and negative thoughts, here's a smart CBT technique to help you find peace of mind.

                  Step 1. What is bothering me? Write down all your anxious thoughts racing in your head. Pick the most disturbing one and process it.
                  For instance, what if there are more layoffs and I get affected?

                  Step 2. Is there anything I can do about it?
                  • If not, it's too hypothetical and pointless to worry about at the moment.
                  So, I should shift my focus and emotions towards another activity, distancing myself from this thought.
                  • If the answer is Yes, I collect information and create an action plan to solve the problem

                  Step 3. Can I do anything from this plan right now?
                  • If the answer is "no", I plan what and when I can do and switch my attention.
                  • If the answer is yes, I do my best for the moment. Then I move on to something more enjoyable.
                  That's what it's like, a healthy process of worrying.
                  Don't try to worry less. Worry smarter.
                  Unlocking your potential can be challenging, yet it's achievable and certainly worth the effort. Each person carries considerable potential. Thus, it's vital to find the strength and determination to not only recognize your values and potential, but also to actively implement them in your daily life. Ideally, you can develop your potential to its fullest to attain happiness and accomplish your life goals.
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                  Hi! I'm Sia Science Witch.
                  I believe anxiety is a gift, not a curse, and I can prove it.
                  #about #mission #story
                  Happy to have you on my blog!
                  My name is Sia Marinich and I am a certified coach and consultant in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as the CEO of CenterMe, women's mental health startup.
                  In this blog, I focus on learning and adapting the most effective CBT tools to help women manage anxiety, stress, and their self-criticism, which can hinder them from reaching their full potential.

                  ©CenterMe Health. All rights reserved