Have you been playing small? Sometimes, we can’t help but shake the feeling that we were made for so much more than our current careers or business models are permitting. We imagine going after that dream job, scaling our businesses, or quitting our 9 to 5 to go all in on our businesses, but stop ourselves. The Conference Board reported that 53% of Americans are unhappy at work — over half of the current workforce! Life is too short — and our lives are too precious — to short-circuit our full potential (and happiness) in our career.
You may be due for a reflection opportunity to determine if you need to make a change. Taking a leap of faith to inspire your full potential may sound risky, but the risk of living a life of playing small is far worse. Here are four questions to ask yourself and critically reflect on if you know you aren’t as happy as you could be in your current career — whether that’s a 9 to 5 job or in your capacity as a business owner.
1. In The Morning, Do You Feel A Natural Burst Of Energy Or Is It Impossible To Get Out Of Bed?
Assessing your energy levels is a critical indicator of your happiness. Think about a morning when you woke up bright-eyed and ready for a big trip to an exciting destination. Now, contrast that with how you feel when you wake up for a day in the middle of a workweek. Sure, the energy levels will never be totally on par with each other, but the point is — you should feel excited and energized to do the work that’s waiting for you!
Energy naturally stems from happiness and positivity. Happiness Matters shared that “thinking negative thoughts can bring you down just as if you had a debilitating illness.” When you’re in a job or running a business that doesn’t help you to maximize your full potential, it’s easier to think negative thoughts — to experience regrets, to get caught up in how you ‘wish’ things were, or to just feel down about your current situation. That’s why a change is necessary.
2. On A Scale Of 1-10, What ‘Level’ Are You Operating From?
By contrast, when you are fulfilling your full potential, life feels like it’s in hyperdrive in the best way. Maria Camila Betancur, realtor and founder of Macabi Group, told me that she thinks about her maximum potential as a “level 10” — and that we all exist somewhere on that same range of levels. “Level 10 is threefold,” she told me. “It’s about becoming a level 10 in your life by virtue of what you are and your state of being, giving from a level 10, and in turn, receiving at a level 10.” Betancur believes that when you’re coming from a place of your full potential, it’s possible to give all that you have — and the world will see and reward that, giving you a level 10 back.
Ask yourself which level you are operating at for each of those considerations: your state of being, what you’re able to give to the world, and what you are receiving. Sometimes, what you are receiving is a way to view this objectively. If you’re not hitting income goals, audience benchmarks, or however else you judge success from the results of what you give to the world, it’s a sign that you’re not showing up fully, either.
3. Do You Often Daydream About Doing Something Else?
Of course, your own mind is a great compass for determining if you aren’t fully happy. Do you find your mind wandering to other things you wish you could do? Or, do you find it hard to tear away from your passion project? Perhaps you allocate an hour a day to work on that book or that podcast as a side endeavor, but lose yourself in it and wish it was what you could spend all your time doing.
4. If You Told Your Younger Self About Your Current Career, Would You Feel Proud Or Confused?
We always hear that question, “what advice would you give to your younger self?” Equally important is determining what advice your younger self would give you. What did you want to be and become when you were younger? What were your dreams for your career? Have you given up on something that is central to who you are? Imagine that you’re sitting down for a cup of coffee with your younger self, filling her in on your day-to-day. Is she excited to live this future life, or is she confused that you gave up on something or got off track?
Deep down, you know the answers to whether or not you are commanding your full potential. Now, it’s a matter of action. If your answers to these four questions make you feel dismayed, don’t worry – this is a starting point! It’s good to know there’s room to grow, so you can start taking baby steps towards a life of maximizing your potential.