Achieving our potential Ps by Ps
Feeling good by achieving our potential
Achieving potential is core to our wellbeing. It makes us feel good, helps us grow and learn. At a basic level it’s really about movement, our motivation to want to do, be or have something.
So, if achieving potential starts with movement and motivation how do we know if we’re going in the right direction, or even if we want to get there in the first place?
This can seem a little bit like having a puzzle with no idea of the picture we’re trying to complete.
Developing a motivating big picture
This is where our first ‘P’, Purpose, plays its part. By better understanding our purpose we can create a motivating picture, somewhere we’d really like to be ‘in our world’.
Our values, character strengths, beliefs and general sense of self can bring greater colour and feeling to the picture. The more vivid and exciting the challenge the more energy we’ll have to overcome any obstacles along the way. The key here is to make sure we’re working on a puzzle that we really want to complete.
Our next ‘P’, Pressure is about setting a timescale. We should set ourselves some goals, both long term (to finish the puzzle) and shorter term (to complete so many pieces by …). Too long and we may not have the urgency or desire to get the task completed. We might become disillusioned or drift onto other activities. Too short and we may put ourselves under too much stress and buckle under the pressure (wow this is only a puzzle!) Sharing deadlines with others can also ‘spur’ us on and help hold us to account.
Tip. If it’s just a puzzle please don’t put too much pressure on yourself!!!
Organising the pieces and our priorities
Once we’ve got a better idea of the ‘big picture’ and our expectations for achieving our goals we can think about organising the pieces. This is where our next Ps, Planning, Preparing & Prioritising come in.
This is where we might ask questions like, who else might help us?, where will we do it?, when might be the best time for us to do it so that we can fit it in with other activities?
This is also a great time to review our thoughts and feelings about the task.
- How confident are we of completing it?
- What could we do to increase that confidence?
- What other beliefs do we hold and how might we challenge them?
- What might go wrong and how might we plan for this?
In terms of prioritising we might think about key parts of the puzzle we’d like to complete first. Which pieces are most important and urgent? Just like getting the corners and sides of a puzzle completed there will be tasks that should be prioritised over others. Getting them completed will set the framework for the challenge and provide greater motivation for completing the remainder of the task.
Of course, all the planning, preparation and prioritsing in the world mean nothing until we actually experience the activity in hand. This brings us to our next P, Performance
If we’re not sure where to start it’s better to just start. One piece will lead to another and this momentum will build confidence. We can develop good habits by setting aside regular time. A great tip here is to make things easier for ourselves by lowering our ‘activation energy’ for habits we’d like to adopt.
So, quite simply if we want to complete the puzzle lets put it in a place where we’ll see it regularly and it’s easy to do. If we pack it away each time we’ll require more energy to get it out again and be less likely to do it.
Avoiding distractions and adapting
This is where we need to Prune. Identifying distractions that are likely to get in our way and removing them. We might also need to adapt and prune our plan as we make progress. Perhaps we’re completing tasks quicker than we thought and we’d like to change our deadlines.
Remember a plan is just that, a plan. It’s not set in stone. Things will happen that weren’t in the plan. Perhaps our loving child might throw all the pieces of our half completed puzzle in the air whilst we’re not looking. Developing resilience and our next ‘P’, Persistence is key. By thinking optimistically about how we can work around any obstacles that are thrown in our way we will be more likely to find solutions.
Knowing when we’ve finished
Before we start we should have a good idea about what type of end result both we, and others, will be happy with. This is about our final ‘P’, Perfection. Many people strive for perfection finding that they can never achieve what they set out to. What is perfect anyway? To us it may mean one thing whilst to someone else this might be completely different. Striving for perfection may result in wasting time on finessing and redoing ‘pieces’ when we could move onto our next puzzle.
However not achieving the required standard may leave us, and others, feeling less than satisfied. The key here is to understanding what ‘perfect’ means to all involved.
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