All of us are born with distinct characteristics and traits that make us who we are – what we’re good at, and what we’re not so good at.
We’re often told to focus on our weaknesses; on improving what we’re not so great at. But this can only get us so far, as we’ll never excel in these areas – even with a lot of time and effort,
The reality is that we’d be better served to focus on our strengths. When we discover what we excel at doing, we can focus on improving these skills even more – to go from good to great and truly shine! This exercise can help you to find your new purpose and next chapter in life at any age.
Most of us have a general idea of what we’re good at. But we may need some help identifying specific strengths within that general framework. For example, you might know you’re a creative person – but what does this mean? Are you an artist? A storyteller? Or perhaps you’re great at conceptualizing ideas.
Here are some tips on how to discover these specific core strengths.
Think about your skills and life experiences that have brought you to where you are today. What have you always been good at? Perhaps you’re a great listener and all your friends and coworkers come to you with their problems. Or maybe you’re the entertainer of your friend group – always the life of the party.
Grab a pen and paper (or a computer), and jot down some ideas as they come to you. If you’re feeling stuck coming up with descriptive adjectives, do a quick Google search to find a list of strengths to reference (e.g., “loyal,” “kind,” “problem solver”).
If you’re still having trouble identifying your strengths, ask yourself the following questions:
- What have I accomplished in life that I’m proud of? What skills did I use to accomplish these things?
- What do I enjoy doing? What lights me up?
- What skills do I most enjoy doing in my current/previous job?
We may think we know ourselves, but others might see things in us that we don’t. For example, maybe you’ve overcome some hardships in your life. While you see them as just things that happen, your friend says you’re the most resilient person she knows. Voila! A strength you never knew you had.
Take some time to ask those in your life who know you best – friends, family, coworkers – what your strengths are. You may just discover something new about yourself!
From the casual online quiz to the more scientific tests like DISC or CliftonStrengths, there are plenty of options for you to discover the strengths that make you, you. As a bonus, many of these tests include ideas for careers, hobbies,or that next chapter in life that would suit your personality best.
Now that you have your list of core strengths, you can use them to build your self-confidence and excel at whatever you do! Here’s how:
Keep your list of strengths handy, and reference it often – particularly when you’re having an off day or feeling down about yourself. Just recalling what you’re good at can boost your mood and feelings of self-worth.
Recognize how you used your strengths to overcome challenges or difficulties – whether personally or professionally. Remember that it takes a certain set of skills to work through obstacles, and remember that you made it to the other side, stronger than ever.
Use your strengths regularly. When we practice and apply our strengths, we get even better at them – thus increasing our self-confidence and sense of achievement.
Set goals. Set goals that require the use of your strengths. If you’re a writer, set a goal to write so many words per day or to self-publish a novel. If you like to plan events, offer to lead your team’s fundraising event at work. Hit your goals regularly, and watch your confidence soar!