How to Work Towards Your Potential While Living a Joyful Life

My biggest fear in life is looking back on it and knowing I could have done more. I want to know I’ve tried to live to my fullest potential. I boiled it down to this as I was recently trying to figure out why I’ve never been great at fully relaxing and why I have always been the type to keep taking on more challenges. I realized that this is a fear that heightened after I experienced the death of my father, but if I trace my life back, I actually think I’ve been this way all along.

This idea of living to my fullest potential and my constant drive to add more experiences to my life had me wondering what fullest potential even means.. how do we even go about measuring it? How do we know when we’ve reached it? Will we ever?

If I had to describe this feeling, I’d say it’s knowing that I had a chance to take more bets on myself, to try more things, to seek more challenges, to see more of the world, to do more good for society… and I didn’t. So what does that lead to? So far, it’s lead me through many years of trial and error — new cities, new communities, new challenges, new hobbies, new skills, new ideas, new goals and a seemingly all-over-the-place idea of what I want my life to look like at the end of it all. Maybe you can relate.

As I’ve attempted to understand this about myself, I’ve discovered that in order to live a life I’m proud of at the end of it all, I need a solid mission. And if I even come a little close to achieving the mission, it would be a life well-lived.

So, I wrote a mission.

I am on a mission to live to my fullest while helping others do the same - in health, in wellness, in careers, in love, in life in general. If I strive to be the best version of me, I can be more for others — how can I help others get more out of life if I don’t strive to get more out of my own? I created Erinspiration as a starting point - it’s turned into a platform for me to reach and connect with many, to share motivation, inspiration and my personal story in hopes that it all reaches someone that needs to hear it.

How to Find Balance When You’re Constantly Striving for More:

If you’re always taking on more challenges and evaluating what you could be doing more of and have similar feelings as the ones I shared about myself above, here are some ways to find balance:

  1. Know your mission and ask yourself if what you’re doing on a daily basis is somehow getting you closer to it. If so, stop being so hard on yourself.

  2. Take more than a brief moment to appreciate an accomplishment before moving on to improve the next thing. A continuous improvement mindset leads to a tendency to breeze over things we work really hard for, without taking pride and truly giving ourselves credit. It’s okay to be proud of yourself for more than a second.

  3. Evaluate all of your engagements - is there anything taking up time and space in your life that you don’t actually need to be doing? Focus on the essential pieces of your big mission. Direct your energy to those pieces and say no to the other areas that may be taking up too much space.

  4. REMEMBER THAT YOU GET TO LIVE THIS LIFE. It’s a fortunate time to be alive - we have the ability to create, to dream, to start fresh, to move — rather than letting that freedom stress you out, be grateful for the choices.

  5. Stop romanticizing the plans and just go. You cannot connect the dots without the first dot.

  6. Dedicate time in your week to activities that allow you to stop thinking — spending time with family/friends, yoga/meditation, watching a favorite show/movie, self-care of whatever sort — don’t neglect it.

If you’re feeling stuck and like you have untapped potential, here are some things to consider:

  • When was the last time you changed your environment?

  • Have you ever experienced living in an unfamiliar place?

  • When was the last time you felt like you were challenged in your work environment?

  • How is your health? Are you doing the best you can to be generally healthy? Could you be doing more?

  • Are the people you spend the most time with inspiring you?

  • When was the last time you set a goal for yourself?

Starting with those questions may help you dig a little deeper into the root of your feelings and what you can do to start feeling more fulfilled in your current life.

The world would be a better place if we all thought more about how we could live more joyful and fulfilling lives and actually took the steps. It would be even better if we measured our lives by the impact we left behind everywhere we went, no matter how small.

I am measuring my life by impact — while I dream of leaving a big impact on this world, I know that small impacts on the people I interact with in my day-to-day life right now are enough to create a ripple effect, and if that’s all I manage in this life, then that is enough for me.

What about you?