Unlocking Your Best You

actual steps for achieving your goals

Self-improvement journeys are a constant presence in American society, and its market is currently worth $13.4 billion in the US alone. But while many people follow the same self-help books, learn from personal coaching services, and use popular self-development apps, no one finds success in this area the same way. Unlocking your inner potential takes more than that, and Adam Grant’s new book, “Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things,” digs into it by laying out three principles: to lean into discomfort, to keep things interesting, and to ask for advice. In certain respects, this jibes with the advice given in “Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success,” so we’ll examine Grant’s take on goal-setting through the lens of the book that shares this site’s namesake!

Potential vs. Talent

someone drawing steps for achieving your goals
Need steps for achieving your goals? Of course you do!

Before starting any self-improvement journey, people should understand what potential, whether inner or personal, means. In many cases, people fail to become the best versions of themselves because they don’t know how to differentiate potential from talent. Although not many are aware of these slight mistakes, and they can quickly correct them, knowing them beforehand is always better.

Talent is the individual’s natural ability to perform and do something outstanding with minimal effort. They can be any skill or activity you have an affinity with, like singing, painting, dancing, or sports. In addition, it’s also one of the most notable things people find about you, which can affect your personal and professional growth.

Potential is the ability or skill that the individual is capable of but isn’t aware of. It means the possibility of doing and performing something or developing talent to even greater heights. These are things people look to discover about themselves, and it requires training, patience, and a bit of coaching, hence the reason people look for them during self-improvement journeys.

Challenge Your Limits with Stretch Goals

One of the most significant steps for achieving your goals is identifying and setting them. But unlocking your inner potential is more than reaching milestones.

Becoming the best version of yourself requires accepting that to grow, you can’t set goals in the comforts of your known boundaries. You can’t tap into your hidden potential when most of your goals align with the abilities you already have or situations you’re already familiar with. Due to that, setting stretch goals is crucial–which ties into Grant’s advice of leaning into discomfort.

Many studies in the early and mid-2000s looked for new directions in setting goals and higher success rates using different theories and methods, one of which is stretch goals. A 2006 study noted that for these types of goal-setting to become effective, knowing one’s limits and choices and making clear milestones is necessary.

For goals to become stretch goals, they need to have extreme difficulty and extreme novelty. They’re aggressively ambitious, uncomfortable, and, in most cases, rarely achievable. They require doubled effort, determination, and commitment unlike any other. But their rewards open new paths and opportunities where you can thrive. Most people find them daunting, but by replacing usual goals with stretch goals, you become more motivated and self-confident because you know you can push further.

Stretch goals work alongside SMART goals, meaning you still have specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic objectives, but they’re at a more ambitious level. One example would be running a marathon and finishing it. Doing two rounds of 7-mile runs around your local park thrice a week may help your body prepare for a marathon. But to finish it, you’ll need to work twice as hard.

“Everybody has goals and goals are motivating, but there are nuances. If you’re not committed to the goal because you think it’s unachievable, you’ll just throw your hands up and give up.” -Linda Treviño, Professor, Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University

Find What Inspires You (A.K.A., Keep It Interesting)

someone with an enormous bullseye with post-its
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and more than one way to achieve your goals.

Nowadays, most people have an obsession with talent and ability, finding them more significant than other factors when it comes to employment and socialization. Due to this, many individuals feel overlooked, which leads to demotivation and performance loss.

Many go on self-improvement journeys to unlock their hidden potential to become more relevant and useful to society. But what they don’t know is they’re not only finding new things about themselves; they’re also reconnecting with lost passions and interests. When they do, achieving goals becomes easier.

Success is not only well-thought goal-setting, commitment, and motivation. It’s also about finding inspiration and interests. Finding what inspires you is crucial in self-development and achieving goals. They facilitate goal progress, increase accomplishment rates, empower, and add motivation.

Inspiration gives you a moment of clarity and awareness of all possibilities. Setting inspired goals related to topics that interest you unlocks approach motivation, which helps you strive to actualize or achieve all the milestones you set. In addition, you tend to look forward to the rewards of succeeding because they’re relevant to your likes and aspirations.

To unlock the best version of yourself through goal-setting, look for ways to find inspiration in your everyday life and incorporate them. Start by making a list of reasons for every set goal and decompress by engaging in fun, creative activities like painting and woodworking, and exercising and meditation.

“Goal inspiration could, in turn, drive an individual to pursue and achieve desired outcomes by making them more open to novel experiences and more aware of the processes necessary for making progress, which reflects the transcendence characteristic of inspiration.” – Marina Milyavskaya, Associate Professor, Carleton University

Get Yourself a Support System

Achieving goals, especially stretch goals, can affect your psyche and well-being. Due to their difficulty, people could also run into commitment issues. The road to success is full of bumps and surprises that could keep you from reaching the milestones you set for yourself. People must understand that sometimes, you’ll need a plan for when you fall of your horse (i.e., the Fall Off Your Horse Plan from Project Bold Life), or, as Grant suggests, someone in your corner to help you reach your goals.

Support systems are essential in goal achievement as they facilitate goal-setting more efficiently. In addition, they add to your growth and learning by providing encouragement and guidance and reinforcing accountability to help you rise above the obstacles you run into in your self-improvement journey.

Life coaches and other coaching services provide the necessary push you need when you reach a mental wall and provide the momentum you need when things get tough. These systems provide positive reinforcement to shift your mindset to accomplishing your goals.


Don’t forget the book that lays out the principles of goal-achievement and attaining a Bold Life!

About the Author

Through timely and thoughtful articles, the book Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success, and other media, we deliver engaging content that educates, motivates and inspires you to live a Bold Life.
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