Penelope has a great post on whether we are slave driving ourselves in the race for potential. It's a struggle that even I have with myself once in a while.
1. Recognize that it’s delusional. You are who you are, and you should just be you. Have realistic, meaningful goals for your life, like: Be kind. Be engaged. Be optimistic. Be connected. Most people who say they are not living up to their potential are not talking about this most-important stuff.2. Recognize that the world isn’t a race. A race assumes that everyone has an inborn ability to reach a personal best. If you stop racing, you stop wondering what that inborn ability is. I mean, really, “living up to one’s potential” is always relative. You are really talking about your ability to kick everyone else’s butt at something. And it’s not a pleasant thing to say. When you stop looking at the world as a competition, then you can stop wondering why you’re not coming in first place.
3. Recognize that you sound like your mother. “Living up to your potential” is a phrase from a grade-school report card. It is elementary-school speak. It is your parents saying you need to do more homework. It is your mother saying “Joey, you’re a genius. Why don’t you get straight A’s? Look what you do to your mother!” In almost every case when someone says, “You are not living up to your potential,” the proper answer is, “So what?” Because it’s always someone trying to tell you that the thing you should contribute to this world is something other than kindness.