5 signs that you're not living up to your potential and how to fix It

Mary Jo Rapini

Everyone has times when they contemplate, "Is this all there is?" The job, the kids, the new house, and you're still feeling as though something is missing. That feeling of being lost or misguided in your life can happen for a variety of reasons, but sometimes getting clarity that you're lost is the toughest part.

If you find yourself doing these behaviors or feeling these thoughts, it may be time to reassess your life.

1. You become very jealous or competitive with others success. This is often the first sign that you're focused on outside yourself rather than looking inside. You're feeling as though what others have is what you should have, could have or would have preferred over what you have. This leads to a cynical or jaded attitude which is miserable.

2. You start medicating your feelings with alcohol, prescription or nonprescription drugs, or you begin suffering a medical condition such as headaches, stomachaches or other illnesses. When you're on the wrong path or misguided, your body knows and reacts accordingly.

3. You become more insecure. You may find yourself feeling less confident and needing others' validation more. Not feeling sure makes you feel more confused.

4. You feel empty or as if something is missing in your life. When you aren't invested with your purpose or your passion you end up feeling as though you don't really matter. When you feel replaceable or insignificant you no longer feel joy or enthusiastic about what you're contributing.

5. You feel more stressed and more irritable. When you aren't living a life that is fulfilling for you it's almost as if there is a constant irritation. You think about it more, and you react with irritability and frustration.

Below are suggestions that can help you work through your dissatisfaction.

1. Ask yourself what you really love doing most. What activities are you involved in that you find it difficult to pull away from?

2. Make clear goals. Instead of saying what you don't like, say what you do like. Instead of things such as, "I hate my job," make it a goal to research the job of your dreams and work toward that for the next 12 months. If you're in debt, make a goal to pay off a specific sum in 3 months' time. Take action instead of talking about dissatisfaction.

3. If you're totally confused about what you should be doing, take a look at the Myers Briggs test. This scale changes as you mature and grow, and if the last time you took it was in high school, it is likely you've changed a lot.

4. Laziness and self-pity keep people locked into a life that is empty and purposeless. Although we all are lazy and use self-pity sometimes, living with it creates every symptom of being lost above.

5. Feeling lost is a time of confusion and frustration, but it is also a time of growth. It means it's time for a change. The best way to change is to act. Find three organizations of your interest and make a plan to attend one of their activities. Churches, environmental, as well as humanitarian projects help you find your strengths and add meaning to your life.

On every happiness scale research supports the importance of having meaning or purpose in one's life. Having a great job is one aspect as is having a loving family. People need to feel as though they have a purpose and are loved and needed by others. When you look to one aspect of your life such as your job or your marriage and expect to get all your needs met from this one area, that's unreal expectations. People with the most meaningful lives have many areas of interests and feel connected to others.