Goal Setting, Part II: What We’re Capable Of

I was discussing the “too tight, too loose” parable with a good friend of mine from high school who was up in New York for a few days with her husband and toddler(?). I’m not sure what you call kids under two years old. (Google says yes, a one-year-old is a toddler.)

Anyhow, she does a lot of work with college-bound teenagers, so we naturally got on the topic of goal setting and how hard to push yourself to get what you want. As you can tell in my last post, I’ve always wondered if I push myself too hard. Should I cut myself more slack more often?

Then again, I’ve also wondered whether my drive has been an essential ingredient in getting to where I am now. (Of course, the answer is probably a little of both, but stick with me for a little more philosophy.) :)

Emily looked at me and said, “I think most people know what they’re capable of—and we push ourselves accordingly.”

I think she’s right&3151;if you’re being honest with yourself. I know I’ve been through tough times when I said I couldn’t do one stitch more, but when I looked in my heart, knew I still had a little more in me. But by and large, I do think I know what I can do, and what I can’t.

Of course, there are exceptions, especially those who weren’t brought up in homes stable enough to give them a strong base of self-confidence. And, I think our sense of our capacity changes as we age. We all have those moments when we realize we were stronger than we thought—and vice-versa, but we’re still raising or lowering an imaginary bar.

And, finally, I know my personal development friends would argue that we all underestimate what we’re capable of. I’m thinking specifically of the Tony Robbins quote: “Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year—and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” I’ll explore that in a future post.

Think about it and see if it resonates with you. I think it’s a nice bookend to the other “too tight, too loose” post because it offers another little litmus test to see when you’re ready to do more, and when you’re ready to take a break.

It’s also possible that these two posts are right for my “too tight” friends, while my “too loose” friends need a stronger philosophy.

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