Underachievement is an epidemic problem. This is a problem that needs an intensive multi-facet approach developed to shift the elements that keep underachieving behavior in place. For adults, underachievement settles into mediocre levels of functioning, with feelings of disappointment, bitterness and regret. It is a process of squelching versus pursuing their dreams.
Popular culture widely accepts underachievement. We like things to be fun, quick, and easy. We put little value in persistence in the face of setbacks or the unique pleasure of working long and hard on something personally important. We are much more interested in prodigies’ and phenoms than in people who make steady progress toward goals. Our heroes use gadgetry or superhuman powers rather than persistence and hard work.
To avoid hare work we have lowered our standards. The Study of Higher Education shows an eighty year decline in college general education requirements. Standards and test scores of our public schools lag behind not only other nations, but behind where they use to be. Diminished standards around us, encourages us to lower our expectations for our own lives and our emotional investment in them, even life in general.
Unfortunately, these who have greatest potential for real accomplishments are especially vulnerable to underachieving, and the consequences are destructive not only to them, but cumulatively, to society. No matter how productive people eventually become, at some point nearly all of us deal with hesitancies and other obstacles on our way to later achievements. In fact, the biggest difference between those who achieve and those who do not is in how they choose to deal with the obstacles they face. Those who do not combat personal obstacles and cultural trends become numbed and disengaged, inured to lower quality, adept at settling for less.
Underachievement has not gone unnoticed. People understand the concept but no one explained why it happens. True underachievement and achievement are a matter of degree – of more or less – along a continuum. For those that desire to address problems to address problems concerned with unrealized potential there are practical techniques. Change is possible. To simply desire it , however, is not enough. As a minimum it requires a clean cut decision and a commitment to work hard for a while. You must revise ingrained habits and develop new skills with a clear idea of where you are going and a planned approach to getting there.
Change requires that you become fully engaged for a period of contemplation, preparation, and decisive action, followed by continuing maintenance. Change is a learning process: you learn to do some things differently. Set up a buddy system, someone to check in with and encourage your progress. Acquire knowledge and thus gain confidence in moving forward. Use what you’ve got and take advantages of opportunities. Develop order thru organization, attention to detail, consistency, and breaking complicated tasks down into steps. Having a vision, defined in steps with support, lends itself to achievement.
Underachievement - Pulling back from your potential, at the most fundamental level, is a kind of abdication, an abandonment of your best interests. Achieving self-development, on the other hand is not only life’s central mission – it can also be the most thrilling odyssey there is.
This information is summarized from Kenneth W. Christians work “ Your Own Worst Enemy, Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement” and his Maximum Potential Project.
Dr. Johnston has 35 years experience in assisting individuals in finding their passion and developing their potential. She specializes in working with multi-talented individuals that feel lost, not understood, know their is more to life that want to express their gifts and connect with others like. She has traveled this path herself and knows first hand the challenges of having high abilities and not fitting in. She is the owner/consultant with "How To" Life Consultants, LLC. She chronicles her experience and provides tools at www.howtoinlife.com