Knowing Your Limits and When to Break Them

I was teaching a Grade 7 class recently a course on personal finance (from the Junior Achievement organization) and it struck me that I could never be a full time teacher.  It’s just not my thing (rather unlike Robert who planning to become a teacher).  This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy teaching people things or doing training, but rather I don’t think I could handle teaching 8 different subjects for 10 months straight as elementary teacher do.  I would likely lose my mind in the process.

In some regards that was a useful reminder to me on what I’m good at and what I’m not.  It’s sort of like the fact I’ve never had an article on this site about how to pay off your credit card balance…if you need that kind of help you are in the wrong place.  Why?  I’ve never had that kind of debt or really a spending problem, so I leave that teaching to someone else with more experience and understanding.  It’s not that I couldn’t do it, but rather I don’t think I would do it well.

I like to think I understand some of my own limits.  What I can do well and what I won’t bother doing at all.  Yet despite this fact I still regularly try to push those limits.  Why? In my mind, you never really learn anything new without pushing against some kind of boundary or limit.

I’m not learning how to run because I look good in running shoes, I’m doing it to push my previously low limits on endurance.  I’m not pushing against that boundary between low spending and happiness out of habit, but rather wanting to understand how I continue to grow as a person impacts where that boundary is.  I don’t particular like speaking to a group of people, but I’m getting better with practice so I keep saying yes to speaking engagements.

So it’s ok to know your limits in life, but you also have to keep pushing on them otherwise you might never find what else you can do well if you would just give it a try.  What I struggle with it knowing the line between the two?  So where do you draw the line of living in your limit and pushing past it.

3 thoughts on “Knowing Your Limits and When to Break Them”

  1. Two of the parameters I live by are ” What’s the worst case scenario?” and “Don’t say no without a good reason.”.
    When asked (either by myself or others)if I can or will do/try something, I go back to those questions. If I can live with the worst case scenario (and I’ve never had anything go as wrong as I can imagine it to go), I’ll go for what ever path looks the best.
    Other wise, if I can afford the time / money / energy, I’ll jump into a new situation, and sometimes find out very quickly where my limits were, lol.

  2. Great post Tim.
    Knowing your limits, and pushing the boundaries is key to learning, adapting, and getting ahead. Likewise, its also key to know when to back down, and realize that you can’t know everything or be perfect at everything.

  3. I hit a personal limit years ago while working on a PhD. It had been my focused goal for years but I burned out and began to sabotage myself. That and I realized I was just too social for research (in the sciences) and I really wanted to teach. Yes, teach. So I took my existing grad degree and started doing that. Twenty-two years later I’m still at it, now part-time (thank you, FI!!) and grateful for that earlier limit. It showed me where in life I can best offer my talents. Teaching isn’t as “shiny” as it was but I still get a buzz engaging with University students just entering adulthood.

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