What Does It Actually Mean to Liberate Your Potential? Part 1
Freeing our potential is often described as something we do once we commit to a goal. But what if we base the center of our life on that goal before even looking what we crave most deep down?
For instance, we could commit to working hard this year in order to get that raise that will validate our success in the company, in our social circle, in the eyes of our romantic partner and family or even for ourselves. It's a linear progression that fits our resume culture, after all. We are led to buy into the idea that showing this kind of upgrade is a sign of professional progression and, even more powerfully, a sign of personal progress. In short, if we get the raise, we will be validated in the idea we have been sold about how to measure our own personal growth.
What if what we actually need is not a raise -- we actually make plenty enough mullah already -- but an extended vacation to replenish, or quality time with our loved ones, or to hit the road, or even to redirect our life into a whole new direction because we are tired of what we do at work, we are not finding in it what we hoped we would, we feel we are missing out on Life, and we sure are not finding the time we wish we had to actually enjoy ourselves more than a short weekend at a time.
What if we could: not work 60 to 90 hours a week doing something we only mildly or moderately like or even tolerate, not have to show up at work on Monday morning because time off is, in fact, okay right now, not have to work overtime into the night or over the weekend because 'we have a deadline' and not have to numb ourselves drinking and eating too much or doing social 'stuff' with people we don't even want to spend time with.
What if, instead, we could: have all the time in the world for a couple of years, just be for a while (maybe even forever), actually enjoy the people we surround ourselves with (we may need to meet new ones), spending time with our favorite people on earth (the ones we already know, that is), travel for more than two weeks at a time, zooming through Paris, Nice, Amsterdam and Barcelona in less than five days (pardon my French, but might as well watch a Netflix documentary on each).
It is possible to live differently. It is possible to live better. It is possible to live happier.
Take that time off before you blow a fuse, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Before you completely lose yourself in antidepressants or Adderall or whatever else your doctor is prescribing you just to deal with the stress of it all. That's crazy...! We most definitely don't have to live that way.
I spent 15 years in academia, which is emotionally barely less stressful than corporate and way more miserable pay wise because, as everybody knows, academics make peanuts. I also worked in corporate, where my boss yelled at me when I tried to do my job well and shut her ugly mouth when I actually succeeded at what I was doing. She ran after me shouting insults when I announced to her, very respectfully and tactfully, that I was leaving the company. Nut case.
Four months before my 35th birthday, I heard a little voice in my head saying very distinctly, "If you continue at this pace, you will have a heart attack by your 35th birthday." I remember catching my first thought, "Oh, don't worry, 35 is way far still." After which I immediately realized that it was just a few months away and that I better get on it if I was to avert a catastrophe. Then I pondered how I could ever be okay with the idea of having a heart attack, at any age.
So, I decided to walk away from it all, both the academic and the corporate worlds. And I've never looked back. I remember, at the time, vaguely dreaming of bringing my nervous system to an acceptable level of bearable stress. I had no clue I could actually enjoy a relaxed peace in my body and mind continuously -- which is now the case. Needless to say, I feel like I am in heaven, and I am still alive realizing that I can enjoy this, which is the point of Life, isn't it?
For a sequel to this article on practical tools to start unlocking your potential with actual enthusiasm and flow, click here.
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