Realising one’s potential can feel like a big ask. When there are so many demands on our time and energy, an amorphous concept, like ‘self-actualising’, can easily fall down our list of priorities. Instead, we tend to invest our time and energy into our pressing (already actualised) to do list.


Here are some thoughts on how to know whether life feels fulfilled or just filled to the brim.


What do we mean by ‘fulfilling our potential’ and how will I know if I am?


Fulfilling one’s potential does not necessarily mean hitting external markers for success: like making the Rich List or triumphing in competition. Nor is it a static or final state. It means realising what we want, the internal resources we have and using them to achieve our goals.


How do I know if I am living up to my potential?


Things we do when we are realising our potential:


  • We have spent time considering possibilities and from this have set clear goals that we feel able to achieve.
  • We feel challenged yet supported.
  • We have outlets for our thoughts, creativity and we approach problems with curiosity and positivity.
  • We behave in accordance with our values.
  • We know things will go wrong so progress is the aim of the game, not perfection.
  • We are able access “deep work” and “flow” states where we are absorbed.


We see our needs and wants as important.


The types of things we say:


  • “This is hard but it’s worth it”
  • “I am getting better”
  • “I am excited for this next project/ challenge”
  • “I am learning lots”
  • “I am proud of my work and myself”


Conversely, we instinctively know when we are not fulfilling our potential because we haven’t given ourselves time to think, to rest or consider the possibilities for change. We feel overwhelmed and challenged. Our default is to deprioritise our needs and wants, in favour of others. There is a nagging feeling that something is missing, and we are not quite where we are meant to be.


Tips for recognising and nurturing your potential:


1) Time to reflect and goal set


Diarise some self-reflection time or speak with a trusted friend or coach. Spend this time away from day-to-day reality and consider different possibilities. What do you want to achieve? Consider what you ‘could’ do, not just what you ‘should’do.  What could you be doing that would bring passion and purpose?


2) Know your worth


Consider all the amazing qualities you have. Time spent ruminating on what we are lacking is unlikely to provide us with that much positive momentum towards fulfilling our goals, but it is likely to make us more miserable than when we started.  Focusing our attention on our strengths builds confidence, self-awareness and opportunities.


Ask yourself:


  • When do I feel proud?
  • What do people complement me on?
  • What am I doing when time seems to fly and I am in ‘my zone’?
  • What skills would I like to use more?


3) Remember it’s never too late


Sometimes we can synonymise potential with youth. As commitments and responsibilities compete for our attention, dreams can be rebranded as pipe dreams. But potential doesn’t disappear – it is still there, waiting for us in the realm of what is possible.


This article was written by Emma Gill who specialises in coaching and mentoring mothers to thrive in successful, meaningful careers. To find our more, contact Emma on or visit her partner coach profile page.