We all flag a little in life sometimes.
With so much to squeeze into our days – from work and exercise to socializing and maintaining relationships – it’s tricky to stay on top of everything.
If you’re pretty hot about staying on track, you can probably sense when something isn’t right about your daily routine.
But if things are just that little bit too hazy, it can be hard to even know if you’re the one roadblocking your success in life.
So how do you know if you’re just being hard on yourself – or if you are the problem?
Check out these 9 red flags you’re not living up to your full potential – and what to do instead to get your life back on track.
1) You sleep in late every day
Experts have studied the effects of sleeping in and found that healthy adults who wake up early have a more positive state of mind than those who sleep late.
More research has found that people who wake up early tend to go to sleep earlier and enjoy a better quality night’s sleep.
Plus, there are so many other benefits of waking up early.
You can create a better morning routine, skip the traffic, find time to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and generally have more you-time.
If you’re sleeping your day away, you could be missing out on some valuable hours to create a healthier, more productive life for yourself.
2) You constantly speak negatively to yourself
We can all be a little hard on ourselves sometimes. And sometimes, that inner critic of ours can help motivate us, overcome rough times, and get things done.
But excessive negative self-talk is in no way, shape, or form a good thing for our lives.
When you constantly speak poorly to yourself, it can lead to an increased risk of mental health problems, decreased motivation, and a general sense of helplessness – according to research.
It can also impact your self-esteem and self-worth (and not in a good way). All of which won’t help you live your happiest life.
3) You criticize yourself around others
Self-deprecation can be a harmless habit that makes you a more relatable person. I’m sure we’ve all had a laugh with friends about something silly we’ve done.
Research has found that people tend to criticize themselves do so to appear more likable, produce more laughs, and appear more down to earth.
But there’s a difference between downplaying your abilities to manage your ego and constantly criticizing yourself to others.
Just like speaking negatively to yourself can impact your self-esteem, so can self-deprecation around others.
It can also make you feel more depressed, anxious, and less optimistic about life in general – which can negatively impact your life and relationships.
4) You can’t remember the last time you did something you’re proud of
If you can’t remember the last time you did something you’re proud of – or even the last time you thought about celebrating a little win for yourself – it’s a bad sign.
Our brains respond to receiving rewards – and when you track your successes, it can boost your confidence and increase your motivation levels, according to experts.
A great question to ask yourself before bed every night is a simple:
“What am I most proud of achieving today?”
The answer doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t need to be anything other people might find worthy of celebrating. It just has to be something that makes you feel good about you.
5) You spend your days without a plan
Sometimes it’s nice to go with the flow and not put any pressure on yourself for what you’ll do on a lazy Sunday.
But do you spend every day winging it? Constantly chasing your tail and going through the motions like it’s Groundhog Day – rather than living with intention?
Then it could be a bad sign.
Research shows that having a sense of control over our lives can reduce stress, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even decrease mortality risks.
It can even boost our chances of being a high achiever in life.
So it’s well worth having a bit of a plan for how you’re going to spend each day and the coming years!
6) You lack motivation in your personal life
Even people who dislike their jobs are somewhat motivated at work. They have to be since they’re accountable to their boss and have bills to pay!
But it isn’t good enough to just be motivated in your professional life if it doesn’t extend to your personal life.
Research has found that overworking and a poor work-life balance puts strain on your relationships, reduces sleep quality, and increases your risk of depression.
As one author writes:
“When your job defines you, your world becomes very narrow”.
“You consistently withdraw your time, talent, and energy from other areas of your life so that you can give more of yourself to your work, leaving you emotionally empty outside the office”.
Which essentially means, if you’re giving all of yourself at work, but never doing anything to benefit your personal life, your overall health and wellbeing can suffer.
And it can lead you to miss out on new experiences, new relationships, and more overall happiness.
7) You run yourself into the ground
Downtime is one of the most important (but overlooked) things you need to live a healthy, happy life.
Yes, it’s crucial to stay active, eat well, and sleep enough to be in good health.
But it’s also important not to run yourself into the ground trying to stay on top of everything.
Never having a spare moment to yourself can lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion. Which, according to experts, increases your risk of anxiety and depression.
So if you’re always busy (and always on the back foot of achieving your goals), this could be a very bad sign for your potential.
8) You haven’t changed jobs in more than 3 years
Unless you’re in a very senior leadership position (like a CEO), staying in the same job for more than three years isn’t recommended.
According to experts, changing jobs every 1 to 3 years is the best way to reach your full potential. It allows you to reevaluate your priorities, realign your job to your values, and achieve greater personal development.
Of course, there’s no need to change jobs every few years for the sake of it.
Especially if you’re genuinely happy there, are developing, and have opportunities to progress that you’re working on.
But if you’re not satisfied with your job and can’t remember the last time you felt a sense of achievement, it may be time to change things up a bit.
9) You don’t know the last time you learned something new
Learning new skills gives your brain a mini workout. When you do things you’ve never done before or learn a new thing, your brain changes.
It starts to build new connections and can even grow new brain cells.
According to experts, all these things can lead to reduced stress, better memory, improved thinking, and increased motivation.
It can even release dopamine, which creates a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction in your brain and body.
So if you rarely learn anything new or challenge yourself to do something different, it could be a bad sign for your mental health and overall brain function.
Recognize a ton of these red flags in yourself? Don’t beat yourself up too much.
Life is one hell of a ride – and it can lead you down some crazy paths, chuck you around, and leave you feeling a little out of control.
Some researchers have even cited that the generations of today are the unluckiest in US history.
But despite the challenges that come with living, life truly is what you make of it.
And there’s always a way to look on the bright side of things – and make the most of your days so that they benefit you and your potential.