Hump Day Crush: Personal Limits

When exploring, there are two main things you need: a starting point and a rough idea of what you’re looking to do.

The starting point gives you somewhere to gauge how far you’ve gone. It gives you an anchor point and, in a worst case scenario, a port of sorts to return to.

The rough idea of what you’re looking for gives you the reason to leave that port in the first place. For explorers of old, like Magellan and Columbus, that rough idea was “I want to see what else is out there (and maybe make some cash finding better ways around).” So they set sail into uncharted waters and, along the way, charted them.

While doing that they pushed the limits of reason, of the technology of the time and of themselves and their crew. Some of those limits expanded more easily than others when hit, some of them more painfully and with greater repercussions. Everyone involved–and, soon enough, all of the world–ended up with different limits. And all of those limits were farther from the starting point than when they started.

In our own lives, we all develop limits. There is only so far we comfortably stray from our safe ports–be they physical or mental–before turning around and coming back. Rarely do most venture out in to the uncharted territories, those places on the map labeled only “Here there be dragons.”

But if you’re really interested in growing, in learning about yourself and, ultimately, building better relationships, you have to venture into those dark waters.

Before you do that it helps to know the same two things any other explorer should know: where you’re starting and what you’re hoping to accomplish.

Without the proper preparation, you have little point of reference and may find yourself going endlessly in circles. If you lose sight of where you started, you run deeper and farther into dangerous places that you’re not quite ready for.

The first rule is “Know thyself.”

That is your starting point.

Your goal? Know thyself better.

Yes, that’s a broad and some would say easily achievable goal.

After all, everything we do can teach us a little more about ourselves, right?

Yes, anything can… but most of us don’t bother to learn like that. We learn best when put in more extreme situations.

We discover the most about ourselves when we push ourselves (or, in some cases, are pushed) to our current personal limits. One nudge beyond that, one step over that line we could see so clearly from where we once stood, and we are out of our comfort zone and in completely new territory.

Once you’re in that new space, you may find it’s not as bad as you imagined. More importantly, you’ll have not only learned something about yourself, you’ll have tested that knowledge and taken action with it.

The second rule is: Knowledge that is not tested, is not proven.

When exploring your own personal limits, engage in deep thinking and thought experiments. Role play different scenarios, either alone or with trusted friends. Discuss things. But, when given the chance, act on what you know.

You will, without a doubt, discover some limits that you can’t–or won’t choose to–push. That’s OK. Those are important limits. They mark end points, and end points can be almost as important as yours tarting point. The more you find, the better defined your map of yourself becomes.

But if endpoints are important, why not choose one from the beginning? Why not work toward a specific goal instead of the more general one?

You can do that.

In doing so, though, you run the risk of forgetting to pay attention to the journey and the opportunities it provides. By going after one goal, you may miss out on other, unexpected and equally important discoveries.

No matter what, you will end up in a different place from where you began–a new starting point for your next adventure in self exploration.

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