The sky is the limit

We think that we know all about ourselves - what we are good at, our limitations, our special powers. We make assumptions about what we are able and unable to achieve based upon our upbringing, education, social status, beliefs system, money, skills, experience, abilities, being in the right place at the right time, and various other factors. But is it truly possible to predict what we are capable of? How can we know that we are not able to do something until we try? 

Don’t be held back by the past

We are often held back by our beliefs about what we can and cannot do based on our previous experience. If we did not succeed in achieving something in the past, this is somehow supposed to tell us about our ability to succeed in the future. However, if you ask yourself: “Am I the same person I was 5 years ago, a year ago, even a month ago?”, the answer is likely to be “no”. Every day is a new day. Every day we grow, we change, we are exposed to different experiences and ideas, learn new things, have fresh thoughts. Every day our circumstances change and new opportunities arise. It’s impossible to compare like with like. 

What we did or did not manage to achieve in the past exists only in our memory. The past does not know who we are in the present moment. Nor does it know who we will become in the future.

Put aside self-limiting beliefs

We all hold various beliefs about ourselves. Some of these beliefs put limitations on what we think we can achieve. We may believe that we are too young, too old, too inexperienced, not creative enough, not smart enough, not brave enough, and not lucky enough to succeed. These limitations are set by our own thoughts. Take age for example. Most people go to university when they are 18. And yet, there are a number of young people who get a PhD when they are not even 18. There are a number of mature students who start their university degrees when they are in their 80s or even 90s. 

Your thoughts about yourself are your own opinions. Your thoughts do not know how well educated you are, if you have enough experience or if you are creative. If you believe your self-limiting thoughts to be true, then you will be constrained by what they tell you. If you just accept the thoughts for what they are - thoughts, not facts, you will be free to do whatever you want.

Open your mind to endless possibilities

If you believe that you cannot do something, you will not even attempt to do it. If you believe that you are only capable of so much, you are less likely to achieve more. The most successful people are those who do not put limits on what they are capable of and are happy to push themselves further and further away from what’s familiar to them.

I am sure that all of us can remember a few occasions in our life when we surprised ourselves at what we had managed to achieve. This often happens in circumstances when we do not have time to think about our limitations but have to act. I once had to take an exam at a short notice (a long story for another day,) and instead of several months of preparation, I only had one day to read and absorb a 1000 page long book. I had no choice but to take the exam. I was too busy preparing for the exam to have time to worry about not being well prepared and I approached the exam with absolutely nothing on my mind other than the thought that I did my best to prepare for it within the limited time I had. And I passed!

The less we try to control how well we are able to do things, the better we perform. The sky is the limit unless you cover it with a ceiling. You cannot possibly know what you are capable of until you try doing it. You can make an educated guess, but it will only ever be a guess unless you take action. 

You can tear down the ceiling just as easily as you can build it.

What are you going to do next?

Just as you are unable to predict the future (we would all be lottery winners if we could!), what you are capable of is also limited by your imagination. But your imagination does not have to hold you back. Take action, do your best and aim for the sky! If you haven’t tried, how will you know what you are capable of?

Imagine what your life would be like if you were not held back by your thoughts. If you would like to explore this, get in touch for a chat. 

Marlena O’Donnell

The Resilience & Results Specialist