There is a lot of pressure to achieve your full potential these days. Even for the most self aware and accomplished people I know, at some point, they find themselves wondering what they are really supposed to be doing with their life. Not knowing seems to be an epidemic. When you are just trying to get by or struggling to get through a serious life crisis like illness or the loss of a loved one, fulfilling your potential can seem like an extravagant pursuit.

Should we all aspire to fulfill our potential in our lifetime? Absolutely. Most of us may not even scratch the surface because of fear or perceived circumstances. On a good day, it’s something we can see clearly and live fully. Its okay for this to vary from day to day or even week to week as long as we stay focused on pursuing the possibilities of our best self. Today, I have a migraine and my high hopes for a day full of productivity and creativity might be slightly hampered. Living up to my full potential on a day like this means that I didn’t let it stop me; that I sat my ass down at my computer to write despite feeling blinded by the screen. Instead of going to CrossFit, I walked on the treadmill. There is a time I would have gone straight to bed and done nothing. Believe me, it sounds tempting even now. I’m not trying to win a prize today; I’m just trying to do my best given the circumstances, maybe a little bit better.

Most days are a matter of doing our best and falling short of our full potential. So what? As long as you are striving and trying, that is achieving your potential. As long as you are focused on growing a majority of the time, that is achieving your potential. As long as you are taking action, not just planning the someday when you will take action, you are achieving your potential. Yes, the grand markers of achievement matter, like selling a company or getting a bonus, but those are exciting and occasional events. It’s how we act every day in between that shows our true potential. As the old Buddhist proverb says, “Before enlightenment carry water, chop wood. After enlightenment carry water, chop wood.”

Image source: Cha Coco