Paint this picture in your head. Susie starts coming to the gym consistently, three times per week. She cleans up her nutrition and sees great results. Then, after losing 15 pounds, it all starts going backward. She starts gaining the weight back as the focus on nutrition goes away. Susie then gets frustrated and stops going to the gym, because it obviously doesn't work. What happened? The upper limit theory, that's what. You can improve your life, but you have to believe.
The upper limit theory is the idea that you are blocking your own success. You're putting a limit on how much you can improve your life. In the book, The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks talks about this as the Upper Limit Problem. Essentially, here is what happens:
- You make a change in your life, and you improve your life.
- You start getting to a level you haven't been to before.
- You get uncomfortable. A voice in your head tells you you can't do this.
- You break your good habits in favor of old, negative ones.
You go back to square one. Frustrated, and believing you'll never reach the level you want.
How much can you improve your life?
The Tony Robbins answer is, "As great as you want, in whatever you want," but, is that realistic? The first part, yes. You can improve your life almost endless amounts. It takes a ton of hard work, and a long time, but you can make great strides in many arenas throughout your life. Lose 20, 50, 100 pounds? You bet. It won't be easy, but you can do it. Play in the NBA when you're 5'7" and haven't played basketball before? Maybe not.
How do you do this? It all starts with belief. Don't let the upper limit problem stop you from reaching new levels. Here are three steps to take to continue improving beyond what you have ever achieved before:
- Make a Vision Board: the hardest part about the process to improve your life is actually being able to SEE what that would look like. One way to address this is to make a vision board. Vision boards can take many forms. One way which works well is to create a collage of how your life will be when you make it to that next level. Maybe it is a promotion at your job which will give you more resources so you can take your family/spouse/friend on that vacation you've always dreamed of. Put that vacation destination up on your board. Maybe it is the abs you haven't seen in years which will be visible when you start working out and eating correctly. Be creative and allow it to be just outside of your reach.
- Vocalize your Goals: when you don't share your goals with those you trust, it is much easier to give up on the goals. It takes a lot of courage to tell your spouse or coach that you want to lose that weight, finally. But, once you do, they can help hold you accountable. Very often the people who love you believe in you much more than you believe in yourself. Give them the chance to help you. When you hit that upper limit, they'll be there to give you the push to put you over the edge.
- Find a strong Why: Simon Sinek coined this term, and it is one of my favorites. The truth is you will hit a wall that makes you want to give up. You'll want to just call it a day, and revert to your old, comfortable habits. Get to work barely on time, rather than early. Stop working out. Eat more fast food. All the things you know won't help you reach your goals, but that are comfortable. Find a reason to TRULY want and need to change, and you can push through these moments.