05/23/2011 10:12 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2011

Are You Living Big or Playing Small?

Many people dream of changing their lives but remain stuck in their status quo. They may tell themselves that their goals are unrealistic, or tolerate dissatisfying situations because they feel undeserving of anything better. Each of us is born with tremendous potential, but it becomes buried beneath self-defeating patterns adopted in childhood that we keep perpetuating in our adult lives.

Living big means living a life in which your innate potential is liberated, and you're free to realize your greatest dreams. Instead of being trapped in a life full of excuses and frustration, you're actively creating a life that you love.

If you have dreams you want to achieve but feel unable to pursue, begin to break your gridlock by becoming aware of the self-defeating patterns that keep you stuck. Whatever you're currently doing, identify and start doing the opposite action to override the old pattern, liberate your potential, and empower yourself to pursue your goals. Below are three questions you can ask yourself to help you jump-start positive change in your life.

How am I treating myself?

Perhaps you dream of completing a graduate degree. If you're physically exhausted, in a depleting job or not taking good care of yourself, it's going to diminish the energy you need to research the right school, get your application done and complete your graduate studies. Think about how you're treating your body and what you must do differently to generate the energy needed to create the life you want. This means making healthy choices about what you eat and drink -- and what you're not going to eat and drink -- as well as healthy choices about exercise and sleep.

What kinds of messages am I sending to myself?

Maybe your goal is to have the confidence to exhibit your paintings in the local art gallery, but you tell yourself that you're not good enough. You're defeating your purpose by sending a message to yourself that erodes your self-esteem. Or maybe you dream of starting your own business, but you think, "I will fail." If you're sending yourself negative messages, you'll be too paralyzed by fear to get your business off the ground. Send yourself positive messages like: "You are amazing, talented and magnificent!" Over time, you'll strengthen your self-esteem and build the confidence you need to actively pursue your goal.

What kinds of relationships am I creating in my life?

Your life vision might involve a fun, inspiring and fulfilling personal life, but you continually participate in relationships that make you feel bad. Maybe your friends are judgmental; maybe they don't show up on time or always cancel plans at the last minute. Make a conscious decision to address issues as they arise, or, if they are repetitive, not to stay in those kinds of relationships. By choosing not to participate in unhealthy relationships, you'll not only change the quality of your friendships, but you'll also free up the energy consumed by conflict to create and live the life you want to have.

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