Reaching your 'North Star': Ask yourself these 6 quick questions
Mental health coach, Rich Goddard, talks through six quick questions you can ask yourself that will help set your sights on reaching your ‘North Star’
When it comes to reaching your potential, there are countless factors that influence your ability to get there. Unfortunately, some of them are out of our control.
Likely, it’s too late to wish you had tried harder in school, and you could be waiting a lifetime for someone to come along and give you that ‘big break’.
But if you are able to reflect and focus your attention on what is within your control, you put yourself in the best position to start moving towards the very best version of yourself.
In helping to guide that reflection, here are six questions you might want to ask yourself that can help bring you direction, belief and motivation.
Are my values and skills aligned with my goals?
Every individual is good at some things and less so at others. If you really think about it, you might even find there are one or two things that you are really brilliant at.
It’s here that, potentially, our potential can be found. And for us to spend time honing those skills, they must also be ones you enjoy, believe in and are willing (and able) to put time into.
In his book, The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks talks of finding your ‘Zone of Genius’ — by that he means focusing on the one area of our skillset in which you thrive, head and shoulders above anything else you do.
This skill may not be obvious at first. You may feel there are too many or too few things that you do well and love to do. But putting some thought and consideration into it can at least help to narrow it down.
So what skills, tasks, jobs or activities do you do better than others? Are there any characteristics or traits you have that make you better in some situations than others?
Where do you stand out? Is there anything you could easily spend all your time doing? And could it bring value to others?
What steps can I take to move towards my goals?
Having goals can help to provide a framework, or ‘North Star’, to move towards. Goals are important for giving direction, purpose and motivation.
But it’s also possible that focusing too much on those goals can bring undesirable side-effects. This could be losing focus on the task in hand, to demotivation if you don’t hit the target, or, even worse, if you do get there and it’s not quite what you hoped for.
Focusing on the processes and behaviours required to get there, means that moving towards your potential simply becomes part of your life and routine.
The more present you can be with a clear direction, then not only are you more likely to reach that potential, but you might even enjoy the process along the way.
So, once you have the direction, what actions do you need to take? What does the first step look like? And how does that build into a weekly or daily routine?
Who should I surround myself with?
Not everybody is on a quest to reach their potential; which, by the way, is also perfectly fine.
But if you are, the American author and entrepreneur, Jim Rohn, famously said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.
To that point, it’s worth considering that the people and the environment you surround yourself with, will affect your behaviour.
In particular, those who’ve walked a similar path to the one you wish to take, can provide insights and guidance to help you reach your potential also.
So, are you spending your time with people who inspire and believe in you? If not, then who might those people be? Who would make a good mentor? Where are they and how could you spend more time there?
What are the stories I'm telling myself?
Throughout every minute of every day, your mind is feeding you stories and beliefs about yourself and the world around you.
The ability to reach your potential, will be dictated by the stories you focus on, and the ones you believe to be true.
With this in mind, you need to become aware of any stories that may be impacting your confidence or motivation.
Once you do, you can either challenge them, or take action to overcome them.
But is that story 100% true? Listen to your thoughts and write down the specific stories and sentences that may be holding you back, then write down some alternative stories or actions.
Keep them close by as reminders, just in case those old stories start rearing their ugly head, and make sure the words you use about yourself reinforce your ambition.
Am I willing to work for it?
In a world of social media influencers and reality TV, it is easy to get despondent about ‘overnight’ success.
But what you don’t often see are the hours, days and years of hard work, and dedication that went into getting to that position.
And there’s a hard chance that the level of potential you want to reach isn’t going to be easy. So, be prepared for it.
In question 1, the focus is on your skills, values and what you love; not just to give you the best chance of success, but to ensure you are committed to something that you will sacrifice your time and energy for.
That being said, you should also be aware of how this dedication can impact your life and your health.
Depending on the level of commitment you might need to give, it’s important to make sure you are maintaining close relationships and looking after your physical and mental health.
These factors can be the difference between success and burnout.
Why do I want this?
Getting to the core of why you want to do the things you do can be your greatest motivator.
Knowing that your hard work will make your children proud, leave a legacy or contribute to something greater than yourself, can be more effective at getting you out of bed in the morning.
You might even find that your drive comes from fear or insecurity. But being aware of that can be a way to channel it and focus on moving towards something good.
As Viktor Frankl wrote in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning: “To live is to suffer. To survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”
So, why do you want to reach your potential? What will it bring into your life, the world or the people around you? What’s the feeling that comes with living that way
And what can you remind yourself of to keep pushing you forward every day?
Rich is an executive coach, working with leaders and teams who want to balance achievement and success, with wellbeing and quality of life. Find out more and get in touch atwww.richgoddard.co
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