5 signs you’re settling for a life below your true potential

Global empowerment and relationship expert Terri Cole says that if you’ve asked yourself the question: “Maybe this is the best that I can do, you might be settling for a life that isn’t living up to your true potential. 

You might be asking this question about a relationship, a job, a friendship, or a family situation. “It means that you’re settling for less in life. It means that you wish you were having a different experience.”

What are the signs that you’re probably settling for a life that isn’t up to par with your potential? 

Take a read for a little tough love from us. 

1) You hold limiting beliefs about yourself 

Limiting beliefs are often the very things that stand in the way of being the best version of ourselves. 

They are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are that hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be, says the Tony Robbins website.

Stories can be anything from believing that you don’t deserve love to thinking that you’ll always live paycheck to paycheck because that’s just how it’s always been in your family. 

Often these limiting beliefs are subconscious—meaning we don’t even realize we believe these self-concepts until someone points them out to us. 

“The human brain is wired to conserve energy. We see certainty in our routines, relationships, and jobs. We’re often averse to risk and don’t want to get out of our comfort zones. And we only invest energy into taking action when we believe it will produce results.”

Our limiting beliefs feel like home. For example, you might think I’ll date after I lose 20 pounds. First of all, who says that one thing has to come before the other? Even then, you might put off losing the weight and come up with all kinds of excuses: life is too busy right now. I can’t afford a gym membership right now, etc etc. 

“When we don’t believe we can get results—we don’t have a deep belief in ourselves—we give up before we start. We don’t put in our full effort. We sabotage our own success.”

2) You hate your job 

If you hate your job, that’s a sign that you’re not living up to your potential and are settling for comfort. 

The job pays the bills, it comes with a good health insurance plan, and it’s close to home. 

But those can’t be the only reasons to stay in something that you dread going to everyday. 

Think about what you would love to do if money wasn’t an issue. Then start researching and taking steps towards that. It could mean signing up for a night course one day a week, or creating a side hustle that might eventually become a full-time gig one day.

The point is to find something you love and do that. That doesn’t mean quitting your day job right away, but work towards doing that. 

If you see your current job as something that is temporary until you land your dream job—but working consistently towards preparing yourself for that dream job—you’ll actually be more content where you are. This is because you know that it’s just for the time being until you save enough to move on, or until the right opportunity comes your way. 

In the words of self-help author Deepak Chopra: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. But you have to make your own luck. 

3) You live for the weekend

pic1563 5 signs you’re settling for a life below your true potential

Not only might you be absolutely bored with your job, but you might also be bogged down by endless errands and the demanding drudgery of day to day life. In other words, you’re basically just going through the motions. 

You find that weekends are your only escape and the only time you can have a bit of fun. This could be hanging out at your local pub or having friends over. 

You dread Mondays most of all, because then it’s rinse and repeat. 

Everyday should feel like a gift. There should be an excited anticipation for what it could bring. 

When I worked at my old job, I have to admit that some days the restlessness was overwhelming—it was a signal that I wasn’t living up to my potential and needed to level up in life. Working as a journalist now is such a joy that I can’t even explain it. It’s exciting and it’s nerve-wracking because I’m out of my comfort zone pretty regularly. But that’s a good thing because it makes me feel truly alive. 

When you’re living up to your true potential, even work is fun. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work and that there are days that are disappointing—but it means that you are continually growing and evolving and doing things you never thought possible. 

Don’t live for the weekend. Life is in the here and now

4) You aren’t living by your own values

If you aren’t living your life by your own set of values—or maybe you don’t know what your values are—you’re probably settling by living by someone else’s. 

“Those who do not live by their values too often feel dissatisfied with what they have achieved, as well as their performance along the way,” says Svetlana Whitener from Forbes

For example, if you believe that relationships should be based on honesty, loyalty and integrity but you’re with someone that you don’t completely trust—then you’re not really living up to your values. 

Or maybe you aren’t establishing boundaries with a critical parent. Maybe they criticize to it parenting style or choice of partner. 

“Following your values ensures that you move ahead with certainty and integrity. Resolve today to be certain of your values and to adhere to them,” she says.

5) Life with your loved ones also seems to be stuck in a rut 

If you’re finding that even your personal life isn’t living up to what it should be, it’s time to take steps to improve it, says therapist Alice Boyd, PhD

“In both romantic relationships and parenting, when things go south, they tend to follow a typical pattern,” she says. “Your positive bond erodes, and then problem behavior increases.”

Boyd says that if your positive bond has started to erode with the family members you live with, it’s important to take steps now to improve it. 

“[Do] more fun, novel, and challenging activities together.”

It might be time to take a family holiday together to bond and make memories. This could be a camping trip, somewhere tropical, or a place that promises some kind of adventure. I recently took my niece to her first escape room activity and she adored it. We had to work together to figure it out and I have to admit that she was much better at it than I was!

Anything fun and lively that gets all of you out of your routine is key. But it can also be special to add something interesting and fun to your everyday routine. 

One wonderful memory I have with my own Dad is that he used to read us the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in the evenings when my brothers and I were kids. He would make us discuss which page-turning choice to make, but at the same time would indulge us when we purposely made the “bad” choice—which often meant falling into a lake of red hot lava or being eaten by a tiger, for instance. 

Life is simply too short not to put your best foot forward and just go for it…

You don’t want to be on your deathbed and wishing you had done more in life, or spent more quality time with the people you love. Who cares if you fail at first? You’re still doing better than you were yesterday because now you’re doing something. 

You don’t have to have it planned out. Just start somewhere—anywhere. Trust yourself to just figure it out as you go. The universe will handle the rest. 

Picture of Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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