7 Things Smart People Do that Limit Their Potential

7 Things Smart People Do that Limit Their Potential

“What’s your story? What do you believe about your lot in life? Are those beliefs empowering you or preventing you from living a happy, fulfilled life?”

We have all been there. Where we were tricked by our own limiting beliefs and patterns. We worry all the time that something will not go as planned. We worry and tire our mind sick with this useless “exercise.”

“What if I will not finish my project on time”? “What will people say about my performance”? “I cannot do this because…” This list can continue till the last person’s breath on Earth.

We all fell prey to an old story we tell ourselves about what we can or cannot do. Recall all the moments of worry and hesitation before you made a decision. What did you feel?

During the moment of hesitation, we stood still. Caught in the middle. Not willing to leap. These drawbacks truly put a stop signal on every attempt to go beyond our limits to change, to develop, to grow ourselves and to become even better than we are today.


It doesn’t matter how confident we are. Sometimes on the other end of the rope is a team backed up by self-doubt and the never-ending chasm of fear. But the good thing is that our hope is stronger than fear.

What holds us back? What lousy habits and patterns do we run that keep us where we are?

7 Things Smart People Do that Limit Their Potential

1. Distrust in Your Abilities

If we are uncertain about our skills, abilities, knowledge – it makes it difficult to be in charge of our decision-making process. Some people are most likely to associate themselves with failure than the success that’s why they prone to self-doubting in the first place. People are scared to go out of their “comfort zone” because they assume they would fail without even the slightest attempt to try.

The only failure in life is to never try anything new.

2. Hey, That’s My Cliché!

We all play roles and wear different masks on a daily basis. We do that so swiftly! It’s incredible how our stereotypical images of us operate.

If you’d ever meet people from my very first school and asked about me, they would have laughed and shared a story or two about how wild, funny, witty, bubbly and also reckless I was. They would tell you how I would go and stand up against any injustice and teachers and fight… How I would argue with my teacher of literature about Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Oscar Wilde. In their eyes, they probably saw me as that wild flame – always burning and never resting. I got so comfortable with that role. For years I couldn’t break that stereotype even in my mind.

But moving to London was of great help. Now looking back at those years long gone I sit and wonder about that person I once was. That person seems so distant, almost like a fuzzy dream.

It’s challenging to break free from your stereotypes and the way you thought you’d presented yourself out there. But it’s possible and worth it.

3. You Overdid it, Doll.

“You overthink,” “You analyze too much,” “You are lost in thoughts” – does it sound familiar to any of you, guys and girls?

Self-reflection is excellent, but when someone is consistently out there floating in that endless stream of thoughts, like myself, it’s not always great.

It takes you out of the present moment, and it’s very distractive. It steals our focus from the things we SHOULD focus on here and now. As a rule, these “expeditions” hardly ever lead to anything productive. We end up procrastinating and obsessing about things in the past or worrying about the future that hasn’t happened yet!

4. I’m Comfortable Inside my Shell, Back off!

Why change anything if you are comfortable as you are? Right? The thing is, life does anything but stands still. Like it or not, it will take every one of us out of our shell eventually, and when it does, it will be on its terms.

If you do not create change, change will create you.

Sometimes we are just too scared to ask life for what we really want because getting it means going through a change that life will offer…

5. False Hopes

I can write a dissertation or two on this subject. It’s unbelievable how oblivious I was in feeding myself stories filled with false hopes that were NEVER backed up by any facts or reasons.

I guess I was wired to hope by default. It’s not a bad thing at all. But when you wish and wait for the dolphins to fly – it’s just silly.

“I was once interviewed for a job at a bank. I wanted to work there. I did! And as a common phrase, they said that wonderful “We would give you a call.” I went home feeling ecstatic as if I already worked there. Days and weeks were passing. I was still waiting for that damn call checking my phone every 10 minutes. How naive! And then the phone finally rang. That was a call from another bank. They wanted to hire me. But I was so obsessed with the idea of working at the bank that promised to call me that I asked for a few more days to think. I was sitting and waiting for their call for another few days until I realized how silly it was. So I accepted the job from the second bank I am now so happy that I did.” – a friend shared this recently with me.

False hopes are very inviting, appealing and… deceiving.

6. Limiting Beliefs are our Traitors

Limiting beliefs remind me of the moment when a skydiver stands before the open door and is about to jump. Those disturbing thoughts crawl in and try to prevent him from any fun experience and the pursuit of the things he desires…

Our ego is so intimidated by the things that can change our lives, by the things that are meaningful.

Stop listening to those old stories. Just stop. When you catch yourself revisiting an old thought – simple take a deep breath and replace that idea with a new, positive and reassuring one.

We have to create new empowering beliefs that would back us up in the moment of doubt.

7. What Would Others Think?

Since the young age, I loved singing. When my parents told me to go and pursue my dream, I shut that down as I’ve assumed that “my voice is not that great,” “there are too many singers out there already… why to be one of them?” “people will laugh at me.”

Did those limiting beliefs play a significant role in my life? Oh, yes. Yes, they did.

I remember the same thing happened when I first started writing for HavingTime.com. All kinds of doubts broke loose, and it felt as if it was their responsibility to barge into my mind and tell me what a lousy writer I was. And so I believed those thoughts. Sometimes I would cave in, and I wouldn’t write anything for several months. But then something happened, and I just went for it no matter what… I became immune to the opinions of others and my doubts. Yes, sometimes I relapse for a while, but then I go back to the positive mindset and do what I love.

I do what I love. People are entitled to their opinions. It’s not any of my business what they think about me or my writing skills. I do what I love anyway.

What makes me even more content is when I receive letters from readers with their life stories, their thank you notes and how they enjoyed reading my posts. I cannot be more grateful to you, my friends. It brought me that understanding, that no matter what we are facing in our daily lives – we are not alone. We are here in this together teaching and learning from each other. And it’s priceless.

Photo from vk.com
Originally published on Dec 10, 2013

Lesya Li

Lesya Li

Founder, Head of Content at HavingTime
Lesya Li is a founder of HavingTime – a digitally native story magazine for people that need to share inspiration and be inspired.
Lesya Li
Lesya Li
No more articles

100 000+ people follow Havingtime for daily inspiration, support, and motivation.

Get your FREE weekly havingtime newsletter on how to reduce stress, boost your self-esteem, get things done and live a much fulfilling life!

%d bloggers like this: