Why “potential” is a drag and what to replace it with to realise your purpose

I have dramatically revised my relationship with “potential”. This has made a huuuge difference to the energy around how I pursue my dreams and desires, from creating big visions to taking small daily actions.

First, I banished “potential”…here’s why:

Have you ever had someone tell you you hadn’t worked to your potential? Yep, me too. It’s a toxic cocktail of being really great in someone’s eyes, but then actually, as it turns out — quite a disappointment. Welcome to my (and countless others) school reports experience. This inadvertant teacher shame stuff is something I healed long ago and going through school as an undiagnosed dyslexic may have had a hand to play in my teachers exasperation with me, but I remember well the sting and the emotional hangover of feeling like I was not reaching my “potential”. My fuzzy potential, nobody told we what it was, what it looked like, what it felt like, where it was hidden and why it was so damn shy. And since it was “them” who were the potential experts, I didn’t dare try to figure this stuff out on my own. I just knew I wasn’t there. I wan’t in the golden land of reaching my potential and even if I did…what would it take to stay there?

I am ALL for working towards a vision, dreaming big and exploring fearlessly, but the notion of “rising to potential” just isn’t actually all that helpful, in fact, it can be quite unhelpful. 
 
Talk of “potential” generally places the present moment into a state of shame. I think that sucks because the present moment is where it’s at and where we live. Potential is future tripping…the idea that all will be well and bright and shiny when we, he, she, it has reached this ideal state of fulfilled potential — that’s a slippery slope taking us away from appreciating the present and putting a pretty yucky feeling pressure on the future. Potential also tends to be pretty damn fuzzy on the details as well as generally determined by others….it’s a disempowering concept. 
 
I ditched it. 
 
I ditched potential and replaced it with CAPACITY.
 
Capacity is HERE, with us NOW. 
Capacity is within us, not out there.
Capacity is empowering and doesn’t make us feel like we are falling short. Capacity also keeps us from unhealthy, obsessive striving behaviour. 
Capacity is practical.
Capacity is actionable.
Capacity is something we feel inside us.
Capacity is self determined.

Capacity doesn’t stop dreaming big…it empowers the small, medium and large right actions in the here and now that make a difference…it creates empowered moments with purpose, belief and momentum.
 
This distinction has helped me A LOT.
 
 So, a little exercise for you…
 
Call to mind something you would like to create in your life, something that feels aligned internally (ie your purpose!)— maybe a health goal, a work project, creative project, relationship — whatever you feel ready to grow in your life. 
Has the fuzzy ‘potential’ of it tripped you up at all?
What sort of clarity comes when you focus on your capacity to take action today, this week, this month? 
Can you see and feel a difference between potential and capacity in this instance? 
How can you help yourself by focusing on capacity?
 
Here’s to your stunning capacity.
Happy growing my friend.

Meredith Gunderson is a seeker, teacher and writer based in London. She founded The Modern Meditation Movement, a global community and curated resource portal for people who want to feel connected to inner peace and highest self. You can join her community on www.meredithyoga.com