There is nothing bad about settling for an average life so long as you can still feel satisfied with your situation. The problem is that many people feel they are trapped in mediocrity, and it can become a source of suffering. If you are living below your potential, you may have to deal with a persistent nagging feeling you are missing out on something important. It means you are just putting up with an average life because you’ve convinced yourself there is no other choice.
The humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a theory that all humans have needs they must fulfill in order to be truly happy. The most basic needs included things like food, sleep, security, friendship, and the respect of other people. At the top of his hierarchy of needs is self-actualization, and this is all about reaching your potential as a human.
The problem with settling for a life where you never feel challenged is that you are likely to miss out on the peak experiences and joy associated with self-actualization. It is always going to be easier to settle for what is easy than to make the sacrifices needed to achieve great things.
Here is a hard truth about reaching your potential – you are not going to get there from here. What this means that the only way to escape mediocrity is to radically overhaul your life. It requires persistent effort and the willingness to do whatever it takes to get where you want to be.
Reaching your potential is just as much about escaping old habits as it is about doing the right things. You have always had the potential to achieve greatness, but some of your behaviors and thought processes have been holding you back. Here are just 7 of the bad habits that may be keeping you trapped in mediocrity.
Staying In Your Comfort Zone
“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” Peter McWilliams
Your comfort zone is a psychological state where you never have to deal with much anxiety or challenge in your life. This can be a situation where a person has secure employment, a bit of financial security, and regular habits. It can sound like a wonderful way to live, but the reality of staying in this comfort zone is that you stop growing and developing.
The other danger is the comfort zone often involves a false sense of security – for example, only being ‘good-enough’ in your career can mean your future employment is in jeopardy because there are plenty of people out there would be great at it. It is not going to be possible to reach your potential without you leaving your comfort zone.
This means that you have to be regularly pushing your limits because it is only by doing this that you discover what you are capable of. Your potential is far more than you could ever imagine, but you are not going to find this out by staying in your comfort zone.
Are you terrified of trying your best and failing? If your answer is “yes,” there may be a danger that you are engaging in some type of self-handicapping behavior. This is a type of ego-defense strategy where you deliberately under-perform, so you don’t have to deal with the pain of giving 100 percent but still experiencing failure. If weren’t trying your best, it is going to be less of a blow to your ego.
There are two main ways in which you can sabotage your efforts by under-performing. Claimed self-handicapping is where you provide an excuse for your failure even before you start something. An example of this would be telling your colleagues that you’ve recently been sick so you won’t be able to give you best.
Behavioral self-handicapping is where you deliberately do something that is going to prevent you from giving 100 percent – the classic example of this would be getting drunk the night before an important sales pitch. If you are in the habit of deliberately under-performing, you are never going to be able to reach your potential. You need to develop the courage to do your best in life and pick yourself up after any failure.
Poor Task Management
Your time is the most precious commodity you have, but if you are bad at managing your daily tasks, it means you are going to be wasting it. Effective scheduling of the jobs you need to do is more than just finding a time slot for everything. You need to arrange it so that you are using your time as effectively as possible.
For example, it is usually more time-efficient to schedule the more difficult tasks at the start of the day, when your energy levels are highest. If you haven’t done some research on effective time-management, you are probably not getting the most out of your time.
Not Listening To Other People
You are never going to learn anything from talking. One of the secrets of successful entrepreneurs is that these people know how to listen. You almost certainly come across exciting opportunities and fantastic ideas as you go about your daily life, but you can completely miss these if you don’t have your ears open.
There are plenty of winning business ideas that were initially triggered by an overheard conversation. Unless you are a $1000-an-hour hour public speaker, you are probably going to benefit more from listening than talking.
Focusing On Problems And Not Solutions
There are always going to be reasons for why something is going to be hard, but these reasons are not going to be of much use to you (they just become excuses for inaction). Of course, being aware of potential problems can be helpful in a practical sense, but the focus needs to be always on finding solutions. If you are serious about reaching your potential, you need to change your thinking to “how can I do this?”
Focusing Too Much On Goals
The real joy of life is the journey to your goals rather than the actual achievement of them. If you are too goal-orientated, it means that you see the journey as an inconvenience. This attitude can destroy your motivation and it can make it harder to deal with failure. You are going to spend most of your life doing the work necessary to achieve your goals, and by being more process-orientated, you’ll be able to enjoy this time.
Having Excuses For Not Reaching Your Potential
Successful people can have all the same excuses for failure as those trapped in mediocrity, yet somehow they still manage to achieve their goals. Blaming your lack of achievement on bad luck, poor genes, or the fact that you weren’t born with a silver-spoon in your mouth can offer some type of comfort, but it is a hollow type of comfort.
Deep down you are going to suspect that you could be achieving more, and this can prevent you from feeling fulfilled with what you have. The only reasonable excuse for not trying to achieve more in life is that you are already fully satisfied with your current standard of living. If this is the case, you don’t need to worry about being trapped in mediocrity because you are already where you need to be.