Potential vs Reality
Let’s say you’re a basketball fan. You’re at the game, snacking on popcorn and slurping down overpriced Bud Lights. You get to watch your favorite player have the game of his life. He scores 58 points and makes a mockery of the other team's defense.
After the game, you’re thrilled. He’s the greatest ever! You proclaim to the world as you’re walking out of the arena. Meanwhile, he’s in the locker room, thinking about why he didn’t have 62 points instead. He’s pissed off he missed two free throws and can’t believe the turnover he gave up in the fourth quarter.
Take a look at the picture below. The top line, represents your peak potential. The bottom line, reality, or where you’re at now. The space between the lines is dissatisfaction. The player continues to get better and improves because he’s dissatisfied with his performance. He’s always trying to reach that peak potential, and as long as he’s dissatisfied, he’ll keep working towards that elusive line. He’s able to use the dissatisfaction as feedback on his performance and motivation to get better.
How do we close this gap, beside be dissatisfied with our results? We control everything we can. The basketball player, controls what he eats, how he sleeps, what he wears to the game, music selection before the game. He even ties his shoe left first. Why leave it up to chance?
How does this play into your journey to a healthy lifestyle? Realize that you can control a lot of things that influence your results. Chasing the peak potential is a way for us to stay motivated in our pursuit.
In the book, Atomic Habits, James Clear calls this the Goldilocks Rule. The best way to stay motivated is to work on challenges that are the appropriate level of difficulty. If something is too hard, like you playing one on one against your favorite basketball player, you aren’t going to be properly pushed. Playing against someone your equal, you need to focus, you need every edge you can get - you’ll be more engaged. You’ll also get feedback, immediately, as to how you’re performing. Just like the pro in his big game. You’ll be more likely to move that line when pushed appropriately.
Take a look at your goals. Are they optimally challenging? Or are they too easy or too lofty? Are you getting any feedback at all? If this sounds like a lot, it is. The good news though, you’ll never reach the peak. You can always improve, always control things better and always find a way to push your edge.
Where can you find dissatisfaction to use as feedback to help yourself improve?