One year from now, I don’t want to be the same person as I am today. I want to grow. I want to become better and better.

Expanding CapacityOne way to do that, I realize, is by expanding my personal capacity. Expanding my capacity means being able to do things I wasn’t capable of before. It means being able to handle things I previously couldn’t. If you consciously decide to expand your capacity, you will become a different person in the future. You will look back and see how much you’ve grown.

Here are eight tips to expand your personal capacity:

1. Take a new challenge

Expanding your  capacity is like weight lifting. If you are able to lift 100 pounds but keep lifting that all the time, your capacity won’t increase. You need to move to the next level and lift something heavier. It will feel difficult at first, but over time it will become easy. Then, once you become comfortable with it, you should lift something even heavier.

Similarly, to expand your capacity you must take new challenges beyond your comfort zone. Work on something you aren’t comfortable with.

Look at your current situation. How long have you been doing what you’re doing? When was the last time you took a new challenge? If you find yourself in a comfort zone then shake things up. Find a new challenge and take it.

In my case, I realize that I didn’t take a new challenge in the last year or two. I lifted the same weight for far too long. Now that I learn the importance of expanding my capacity, I’m working on a new challenge.

2. Make sure it’s exciting

When you are looking for a challenge to take, make sure that it’s something you are excited about. I’ve tried to work on a challenge I wasn’t excited about. The results? Wasted time, money, and effort. Working on something that’s not exciting feels like a chore. I must push myself to do it.

On the other hand, if I work on something exciting then working on it feels effortless. Sure, there are times when I need to motivate myself, but the total amount of energy needed to get things going is much, much lower. Furthermore, I enjoy the time working on it. I want more of it, not less. As a result, I move further ahead.

3. Make it fun

Not only should you take an exciting challenge, but also you should make the process fun. In my case, I like to think of a challenge as a game. I have a challenge to overcome and I have some resources at hand. I need to allocate my resources wisely and work my way over the obstacles. There are surprises and pitfalls along the way. Isn’t it just like a game?

Thinking of a challenge as a game makes me more excited about it. It also makes it easier to handle failure. After all, loses are normal in games. They are something I need to go through if I want to become a better player. Rather than discouraging me, they make me even more motivated to increase my playing skill.

4. Focus

If the challenge is beyond your comfort zone, as it should be, then it won’t be easy. You need to focus your heart and mind on it. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t try to do too many things at once. That’s a sure recipe for failure.

5. Invest

Some people are willing to take a new challenge but hesitant to invest their time and money in it. But if it’s a worthy challenge then it’s worth your time and money. There’s no reason not to invest in it.

Remember the game metaphor above? The resources you have in a game are there to help you achieve the game’s objective. You should invest them in weapons, buildings, and whatever other tools you need to achieve the objective. Similarly, you should invest your resources to expand your capacity. Don’t do it above your mean, of course, but you get the point.

6. Take risks

The more you know about something, the less the risks involved. But in the beginning, when you are working on something new, risks are inevitable. Don’t be afraid to take them. Those who aren’t willing to take risks may never move to the next level. You might fail but you will learn a lot in the process. They will make you a better player.

People who just play safe will regret all the opportunities they’ve wasted in life. I don’t want to be that kind of people. I might fail, but at least I won’t regret myself for not trying.

7. Build the desire to “kill”

Your progress will be faster if you have the desire to “kill” your “enemy”, which in this case is the challenge you take. This desire will fuel your effort every day to get better at what you do. It will also make you more resilient in the face of difficulties and failures. Without such a desire, your progress will be slow.

8. Move on

Once you achieve certain level of mastery in a particular challenge, move on and take a new, more difficult challenge. Don’t stop and be comfortable with where you are. Keep expanding your capacity.

Photo by Jakob Montrasio


Categories: Learning, Working

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  • http://lookingtobusiness.com/articles Daniel M. Wood

    Great article Donald,

    All to often we get stuck in the same habits, the same routines and the same tasks.
    We don’t improve, expand or move forward, we just are.

    But like you said if you can keep challenging yourself and keep moving forward you will notice how much you improve.

    I can take the example of the very first company I started.
    At the start I knew nothing about anything, but I had an idea!

    So first I started reading about marketing, about how to get the message out to people and realized that it was a VERY big subject. So I started a 6 month course at one of the best marketing schools in Scandinavia.

    At the same time I realized that there are a lot of other things you need to know and on it went.
    By the time I was done I knew so much that I didn’t know before and I feel like a completely different person.

    Even though that venture wasn’t successful I felt like a successful person because of the changes I had made and guess what, my next ventures have gone a lot better because of that first knowledge acquired.

  • http://www.gettingtozen.com/ Lisa

    Hi Donald,
    Love this article. It is perfect timing for me. Right now I am stretched so far out of my comfort zone, that I am a bit unrecognizable to myself. What keeps me going is knowing that if I don’t get out of my comfort zone and do the things that I want to do I will have regrets.

    Very true about it being like a muscle. I have found that the more “uncomfortable” things I do, the easier it gets. :-)

  • http://www.alternaview.com Sibyl – alternaview

    Donald: What a great post. I couldn’t agree more .. I definitely want to grow and understand more about life and myself every year. I thought that list you shared was great and it is so important to do things that push you beyond your comfort zone. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation. It was a very helpful article.

  • http://www.improvementools.com Gabe

    Donald-
    Great article. I really like the fact that you pointed out that risk in inevitable, but that at times we should take them. They’re a part of every day life and are necessary at times, but it pays off! If anything it is a great learning experiences.

  • http://www.siteofwisdom.com Percival J. Meris

    This is a beautiful article, Donald. Today, I am a more enriched person after reading this article. I have not even implemented your tips yet, already I feel I have grown a bit.

    I never realized that these are the things I should do on a consistent basis for as long as I live, in order to grow. I have always relied on chance situations that come my way, which give me opportunities to meet challenges and grow therewith.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas, Donald.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Daniel,
    Nice example :) That’s exactly what I mean with expanding personal capacity.

    Lisa,

    if I don’t get out of my comfort zone and do the things that I want to do I will have regrets.

    That’s also what I have in mind. If I just play safe, I will surely have regrets.

    Sibyl,
    Glad you find it helpful :)

    Gabe,
    I agree. You might fail when you take risks, but at least you will learn a lot.

    Percival,
    You’re welcome. I also like these lessons a lot. I wish I’ve learned them earlier.

  • http://www.deliverfreedom.com Katie Brandt

    As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.”

    Another way to expand your “Capacity”, that is doing things your couldn’t do before is to delegate. Find people that are good at things you are not good at and focus on expanding areas you really want to be good at.

    Thanks for your article!

  • http://thedropoutkid.com/blog/ jonathanfigaro

    The stronger the desire to more motivated you will be to succeed and the more you will achieve. When you have this desire burning deep within your soul. You become literally unstoppable. But not all people have this. Some people fall in and out of motivation because they lack the see the end. They lack the ability to see through obstacles and such. So if you want to be successful in any way, desire is the key. For not the great was achieved without a great desire. A desire to be the best. A desire to be wealthy. Or a desire to be a timeless author. It starts in you.

  • http://www.mindadventure.com/blog rob white

    Great point about investing. People often put one foot in the water and fail to make a real commitment. Once you put your money up you are telling the universe that you mean it.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Katie,
    I like your tips on delegating. It’s true that you can’t be good at everything so you’d better focus on your core competence.

    Jonathan,
    Desire is indeed important. That’s why you should have a cause that matters to you. That gives you the burning desire you need.

    Rob,
    Yes, that makes a big difference.

  • http://www.tigersleap.com Sean Durham

    Comfort zones can be a real enemy to deal with. We all run to them and hide from the challenge sometimes.
    Choosing something that is exciting is very good advice. This is like choosing the path of least resistance. When you follow that path and take up the challenge with enthusiasm,things start to happen and progress is faster.
    Good post,that I read this Saturday Morning with my coffee:-)

  • Steve

    Great post. I am feeling very depressed now, but this article really made sense. Thanks much.

  • http://www.peppervirtualassistant.com/ Kirstine Vergara

    One thing I’ve learned after working for years in a cutthroat industry – skills upgrade. My boss always tells me that we need to learn something new to keep our market value high. It doesn’t matter whether you’re already the boss; someone will always come along who knows more than you do. And to keep up, you need to explore the unfamiliar.

  • Josh Frenkel

    Interesting article! I think that far too often people become satisfied with their current level of capacity–whether it be at work, in a relationship, or in a hobby. The human mind is best fulfilled by new challenges. These tips provide some really solid ways to delve into the uncharted depths of our abilities.

  • Pingback: 15 Self-Improvement Tips

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com Josh Lipovetsky

    Awesome post, Donald! I especially love Step 7. ‘Kill the obstacle’. What a great mindset! See all of your limitations as enemies, and cut them down like a Samurai Warrior!!! Haha, fantastic :)

    I’m learning Japanese, and I like the enemy mindset. Nothing will stop me from achieving fluency. I will prevail.

    Thanks a lot,
    Josh Lipovetsky.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/ Donald Latumahina

    Josh,
    Samurai Warrior! I love it :) Good luck for your Japanese!

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