What false limits do you set for yourself?

by | Aug 20, 2013 | General Productivity

Takeaway: Limits simplify your life info something you can understand, but they just as often serve as invisible fences that limit your thoughts, creativity and ambition.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute, 53s.

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Hamstring curls are one of my least favorite exercises at the gym. I typically push myself to do three sets at 80 pounds on the hamstring machine, but as I was finishing my leg workout a week ago, I noticed my muscles becoming sorer than usual. After I finished, I looked to the hamstring machine and saw that I forgot to change the weight from the person who was using the machine before me; instead of tackling my usual 80 pounds, I was doing 105!

Going into that workout, I thought 80 pounds was my limit, when my actual limit was 25% higher.

30-1After this, I bumped up almost every other weight I had been lifting, with essentially the same amount of success – it turned out I had been shortchanging myself, and that I hadn’t been working out to my full potential.

This got me thinking: what other false limits do I set for myself?

False limits are hidden pretty much everywhere. Here are a few examples from the top of my head:

  • Do you go to class instead of reading a more interesting book about the same topic?
  • Do you have a living room, bedroom, and dining room instead of an art room, meditation room, and clock room?
  • Do you look for a job after graduating instead of starting a project or company of your own?
  • Do you spend all of your time tweeting and Facebooking instead of reading a good book, or writing a blog post?

There are some obvious, natural limits to your body, mind, and the environment you live in. You can only eat so much, process so many pieces of information at once, and drive so fast on the highway until you get pulled over.

But I think there are just as many false limits, most of which you set for yourself. These limits are harder to root out, and I think they’re are only revealed to you when you step back from your actions and look for them, or when you find yourself in a situation that that tests your limits (like accidentally working out at a higher weight).

Limits simplify your life info something you can understand, but they just as often serve as invisible fences that limit your thoughts, creativity and ambition. (And as Scott Bold pointed out in the comments, while some limits are useful, like limiting your food and TV intake, some are quite harmful, and that distinction is huge.)

What false limits do you set for yourself?

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of two books: Hyperfocus and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in 27 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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