Someone told me the other day that she had regrets about not reaching her potential earlier in life. It struck me that our potential is not always the same every year – or even every day of our lives, so should we really focus on what we did in the past and compare that to what we are capable of in the present? I don’t think so.
Each morning, we wake up with a whole new set of opportunities, and most likely, they are not the same as they were the day before. For example, if I were serious about running when I was 20, I am pretty sure I could have been a much better runner then than I am now. But, I don’t really think about that because I didn’t have that “fire” back then to run. My potential in those days was finishing college and getting my career started the best way I could. And, looking back on it, I’m proud of what I accomplished in those years.
During my 30’s, my potential was focused on my family, being there for my kids and keeping a healthy balance with work. Towards the end of this decade, I got serious about running and triathlons and worked those into my life. Do I believe I did the best I could during this decade? You betcha.
Now that I’m in my early 40’s, I am exploring what my potential of this decade will mean. My kids are getting older and more self-sufficient (which is good, but it tugs on my heart at the same time). I have reinvented my career and become more focused with my writing. I am working on ideas for starting a new nonprofit and I want to explore the planet more. What is my fullest potential for these years? I don’t know yet. But the point is, our potential today is never what it was last week, last month or last decade. Each day is different. Each day we are greeted with new opportunities, new wings and new ways to stretch, grow and reach up to our highest selves.
So don’t regret what could have been or what you could have done. Chances are, you lived up to your potential in the past and your current potential is something completely different. The key is to just ask yourself what that looks like right now.