Although this may not happen to everyone, I have always believed that one of the toughest moments we can face, especially if you are close to or past your thirties, is the crisis of not knowing what to do with our lives. “I don’t know what I am good for”,
“I don’t know what to do”. I have often heard phrases like this, not only in my own mind, but also from the people around me. Each life is different and the reasons may be innumerable; we all have our own unique story.
This could happen because we studied what our parents chose for us, because we took that job opportunity everyone said couldn’t be passed, or because in our twenties we saw our future so distant, we failed to do a little planning or dedicate enough time to get to know ourselves better and to define our strengths.
This last one is my reason. Even though I have studied and worked in many interesting things, I think that for years the day to day has taken over and I simply forgot to ask myself – often and without pressure – what are my strengths? What are those talents that come from deep within, which could give me happiness, satisfaction, and success?
Once I realized it, I started to pursue the answer. While doing this, I found a book called: Now Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton - who worked in this topic with more than 2 million people around the world. I am applying their advice and it has given me such peace that I am convinced something happens when you define your strengths.
The authors recommend filtering through 4 basic things daily activities to determine strengths:
1st Be aware of your initial response in daily life and in situations of great pressure; in those spontaneous reactions, the dominating talents come out. For example: if you are a boss and an employee tells you that he or she is going to miss work because their child is sick, what do you think first? Do you think who will take care of the sick child or who will replace the employee? (In the first reaction the strength is empathy and in the second it is organization skills) It is not about judging whether a reaction is good or bad, the goal is to reveal your strength.
2nd Review and “listen” to your wants and desires because those reveal a constant attraction toward your natural talents. Your wants show your strengths from a young age, even though in many cases family, economic or social pressure may drown them.
3rd Observe what you learn easily, it is a clue of your talents. You may have seen how some things seem easy to understand, while others are just too hard.
4th Analyze your satisfactions. Be aware of the moments in which you enjoy something. You know when you feel in your zone, enjoying fully what you are doing.
These four keys have been such a wonderful beginning to see what I am good for. For example, with this method I discovered that at work I am really good at following step by step protocols and things that are organized, while at the same time I see ways to improve them and make them more efficient, and the best part is that I love doing it!
There is plenty of information about this topic and it has been reviewed by psychologists, coaches, and successful business people, but what really matters is if you take the time to simply ask yourself what do you love doing.