Identify Your Strengths: 7 Simple Steps to Discover Work Your Soul Craves


Few of us are born with all the traits, talents, and skills that we’d like to have. When you identify your strengths and develop them, you learn you don’t need what other people have in order to be happy.

This article will go over a variety of tools that you can use to be the best version of yourself. But know that you are fine the way you are right now. You will find out how to:

  • Identify your passions
  • Meditate to focus the mind
  • Set goals
  • Visualize the life you want
  • Reinforce those dreams with positive affirmations
  • Evaluate how you are doing
  • Harness the incredible power of practice.

Part 1: To Find Your Passions Try This

Let’s face it, you’re not going to pursue something if it isn’t something you’re passionate about. For example, you can never become a truly great golfer if you don’t like to play. You can be good, but you won’t seek continual improvement if you are not having a good time. 

I like to shop, but it’s not something I looooooove. I know a few people who go shopping — window, in-store and online — anytime they can. They. Love It. Even if I had $1,000 a week to go on a shopping spree, I would get bored with it pretty quickly (not with the money). 

Count yourself among the blessed if you already figured out your passions. When you identify your strengths, you know that you love to do. For the 99% percent of you who aren’t clear about your passions, here are some ways to find them. 

Visit Blasts From the Past to Identify Your Strengths

Looking back, what are the things that you’ve enjoyed the most? What are some things that you’ve always wanted to try but never have? What things have you been really good at? You may have buried the answers with the expectations of others. Your true calling will bubble to the top.

In order to identify your strengths and activities you enjoy, you have to look to the past. But don’t get hung up in failures and regrets. It helps to revisit something you flubbed and try it again. People change. Priorities change. Give it another chance. You may happily identify your strengths in an unexpected area of your life.

Having a Blast vs Passions

Ok, a blast is fun in small doses, but a passion is something fun that you want to invest a lot of your time in — win or lose. If you’re 40 years old and love tennis, you might not win on the world competitor circuit, but you can play tennis after work and on weekends. A passion is an activity or subject that you would reach for when you have free time available to you.

Keep an Open Mind

You don’t have to decide today what your passions are. The point is to get to know yourself and what you truly like to do, what you are good at and find where the two overlap — that’s where your passions are. Passions evolve as you experience things. My sister and her husband recently discovered they love to play pickleball. They are not great players, but they enjoy having a shared hobby and love a good challenge.

Be Resourceful Not Reasonable

When you have a list of your possible passions, think about how you could make them into a career or a side gig. How can you make money from your passion? Let’s explore the petting cats all day example. I could see if I really like petting cats all day by volunteering at an animal shelter. Then I could visit cat rescues or cat hospitals to see what kind of jobs are available. I already know I love to write, so I could offer to do marketing and blogging for cat sanctuaries or start a cat sanctuary of my own.

When you are connecting the dots between your passions and potential earnings, don’t be reasonable. Be creative. You can always water your ideas down with reality later. But if you let reality influence your ideas, you won’t have that lightbulb moment where you’re like “Hell yeah! I could do that.” Take the 40-year-old tennis player scenario. You could consider using your skills to:

  • Give lessons
  • Coach at the high school or college level
  • Work at a health club / racquet club
  • Have a tennis-related website
  • Write a book or articles about tennis
  • Become a reporter that covers professional tennis
  • Run a tennis camp or training center
  • Start an after school tennis program
The key to identify your strengths is to try many activities to see if you enjoy them.

Part 2: Focus Your Mind With Meditation to Identify Your Strengths

When you hear the word meditation do you envision someone sitting on a pillow? Meditation is a tool that can be used by everyone, the pillow is optional. The truth is, you can meditate every waking moment. Sitting in a peaceful, quiet, low-light situation ideal and makes it easier for a beginner.

By learning to meditate when it’s easiest, it will be possible to mediate on a loud, smelly, subway while you’re angry with your spouse and stressed about work.

How to Meditate to Identify Your Strengths

You might have heard of the idea of mindfulness. This is simply the idea of staying focused on what is in front of you. So, if you’re reading to your children, you are focused on the moment.. If you’re playing tennis, you’re only thinking about the sensations of playing tennis. Swing the racket, hear the ball bounce watch your opponent return the serve. You are in the present moment, not thinking about the past or the future.

Try this — find a quiet place where you can be alone. Simply sit there and breathe. Now count every exhalation. See how high you can count before you start thinking about something else. If you can’t make it to 100, you have some work to do. Most people can’t reach 10 at first, so don’t feel bad.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time meditating to reap its benefits. Staying focused has many benefits.

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation Builds the Mindfulness Muscle

You can’t be your best at anything if you’re distracted by daydreams and random thoughts. Your mind can handle one thought at a time. Now, it can switch topics like a ninja, but it can only focus on one thing at a time. You’ll never identify your strengths fully without focus.

It Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Being in the present moment, unless that moment happens to be a crisis, is less stressful. Stress and anxiety come from reliving bad memories or imagining oogie-boogies that haven’t happened yet. I mean how many times do you hear something bad on the news and start what if-ing all over the place. What if my house burnt down? What if my kid got hit by a car? What if I get a water bill for $4,000? Fuhgeddaboudit. Stay in the moment, and the mental relaxation will follow.

Fear and resistance stop us from achieving our best career. It’s very difficult to fail if you have a purpose and work to accomplish it. Doubts and fears are the imaginary monsters that stop us from trying.

You Get to Live Your Life

If you’re living in the past or the future, you’re not living your life. Life can only be lived at this very moment. Everything else is just imaginary.

Get More Done

When you’re fully absorbed with the task at hand, you are more efficient and get more accomplished. When you know what you should do, but can’t get yourself to do it, meditation can help you focus on the underlying issue. Close your eyes and really think about it. Notice the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Continue doing this until you feel nothing. If you examine any feeling it disappears.

Meditation Takes Time and Practice

It might take more than one meditation session. You can’t just think about it for 2 minutes. You already do that and it doesn’t work. Stop seeking shortcuts! Focus and meditation are powerful tools that will transform your story.

They are skills that anyone can learn to do them well. The key is to start where you are and keep improving.

Part 3: Go for the GOOOOAAAL!

goal setting

After you identify your strengths, goal setting is crucial for using those strengths to get what you want. Whether it’s winning a local tennis tournament, starting your own business or getting a better job.. But you can also use goals to develop your job skills. Think about what skill would support work that you love and set a goal around that.

To have the best chance to accomplish anything, having a goal is a huge advantage. Without the intention of accomplishing something specific, there’s really no telling where you might end up. Have a specific destination in mind and you can determine the course of your life.

Anatomy of a Goal

To be the most effective, a goal needs the following parts.

A Specific Time Frame

A deadline will hold you accountable to work on your goal. Most of us are already great at procrastinating. A goal with no deadline is a wish. Limit your goals to no more than 8 weeks. It’s difficult to stay focused for longer than 8 weeks. Big goals will have to be broken down into smaller goals, that can be achieved in 8 weeks or fewer.

You Can Measure It

There should be no doubt in your mind whether or not you’ve accomplished your goal. To be happy is tough to measure. To genuinely smile 5 times a day is a measurable goal. You can measure money, weight, calories, and other metrics. If you can’t measure it, don’t make it a goal. You won’t really know whether you were successful or not.

A Goal is Specific

To save money is not specific. Save $100 a month is a little better. My goal is to save $100 by the 30th of each month by taking my lunch to work and making coffee at home is great. Vagueness is a goal killer. For example, if you want to develop your presentation skills, make a goal to present 3 times at work or join Toastmasters.

Or it might be to participate in a public speaking training program. Maybe your goal is to spend 5 hours a week practicing your skills.

Sample Goal

A good rule to follow is to write down something similar to this: On or before , I will have done what is necessary to [be able to drive a golf ball in the fairway a distance of at least 250 yards, at least 80% of the time. Notice that the above goal has a deadline and specific and measurable criteria.

Part 4: Believe What You See — Visualization

visualizing your successs can be helpful in achieving your goals.

We all visualize various things throughout the day. As an exercise, try to remember something without visualizing it. You likely can’t! Why? Our brains work in pictures. That’s just how it works. When used regularly, visualizing can yield powerful results. It’s also very powerful when used improperly, except that the results are negative.

It’s Gotta Be Real

You can’t visualize yourself becoming a unicorn or making a billion dollars a minute. Your visualizations should be related to your goal, and your goal should be reasonable (but a stretch) for you. Start with something like getting a promotion at work or making an extra $1,000 a month. You have to make your vision believable and achievable.

Make it a Habit

Twice a day, at a minimum, will best help you succeed. The best times to visualize is in the morning after waking and again at night when you are drifting off to sleep. You can replace replaying the crappy day you just had or worrying about tomorrow with thoughts of having $1,000 in your bank account and a promotion.

Give It Time

Use any spare moments to visualize. We all have moments throughout the day when we’re not doing much. Maybe you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or for a meeting to start. Whenever you have a couple of minutes, put them to use. Anytime your mind is wandering off to something other than what you’re actually doing, you could be visualizing (or being mindful)!

It will take some time for the visualiztions to be effective. It’s like gaining or losing weight. You can’t gain or lose 10 lbs in a day, but the change over time can be impressive. Stay with it.

Visualize the Big Picture

When you identify your strengths and abilities, it’s critical to visualize yourself as the person who lives with those strengths and abilities. You need to see and be comfortable with the whole package, not just a piece of it. If you wanted to be in excellent physical shape, you shouldn’t just visualize your svelt body.

You should also visualize being the type of person that eats well, exercises daily, and places a high value on these types of behaviors. Someone interested in improving their financial strength would visualize all the behaviors associated with that end-result: things like spending money wisely, earning more income, investing wisely, and paying bills on time.

Be as Vivid as Possible

Experience your vision with all of your senses. Don’t just see it – think about what you would also smell, hear and feel. The more complete the experience, the more you will get out of it.

Identify Your Strengths With Visualization

1. Find a Good Place.

If you’re a beginner visualizer, you’ll need a quiet place with few visual distractions. The bathroom or stairwell can be a good place at work if you don’t have an office. At home, keep the distractions aka the kids out of your way. Tell them you need 20 minutes in mommy time out. If you have teenagers, they won’t even notice what you are doing.

2. Breathe

Take a few deep, slow breaths. Slow breathing calms the mind. It’s the one part of your physiology over which you have a high level of control. Count your breaths, if that helps you to focus.

3. Use Your Imagination

Visualization is like daydreaming, but you are controlling every detail of the story. Imagine yourself achieving your goal and demonstrating the strength you wish to develop. Remember to include a lot of detail. Really get into it and keep the experience 100% positive.

4. Notice Negative Nellies

Keep track of any negative feelings. Write down any potential issues. For example, if you’re visualizing yourself in your boss’s office and you feel strange about hearing him give you praise, take a mental note. Maybe you need to visualize being successful on an assignment to make the praise more believable.

A big part of achieving your goal is removing the obstacles. These negative items are your mental obstacles. Visualization is a way to convince your subconscious that you’ve already done something that you haven’t. Beliefs that don’t support your vision will start to fade away. New beliefs will begin to develop. Visualize daily and you’ll change your life.

Visualization is a great tool, to identify your strengths, but it’s not the only tool. The other part of the puzzle is changing your self-talk. We all say things to ourselves, constantly. One way to minimize self-talk is to be mindful and focus on the task a hand.

But anytime there is self-talk, it should be positive. These techniques will help you use affirmations to your best advantage. Affirmations can be really useful to calm job interview jitters. I wrote a list of 50 of them here.

Part 5: Positive Affirmations

Stop the Negative Talk

The first step in ending the negative talk is keeping track of just how often you bash yourself. You will be amazed at how often the talk turns negative. But don’t beat yourself up about it, just decide to do better. Keep a list of the negative things you say to yourself.

Positive affirmations put you in the right frame of mind to thoughtfully identify your strengths. You stop the negative loop of feeling unworthy and allow your strengths to come through.

Re-write your list. Take all the negative things and re-write them into a positive version. Spin the I can’t into I am and the I nevers into I always.

Monitor yourself 24/7. If you’re awake or dreaming, monitor your self-talk. As I mentioned above, replace the trash talk with something positive and repeat it several times.

Each day, read through your list. Read it to yourself. Read it aloud. You might even re-write the ones that are the most significant. Expose yourself to them regularly. Affirmations have been around a long time for a reason: they work.

Part 6: Evaluate Your Progress

After you identify your strengths and set your goals, you have to measure your progress. That also means you need to measure yourself before you start. If you don’t know what to measure, you need to rework your goal. Maybe you need to calm down while making a presentation. You could measure your calmness on a 1-10 scale or monitor your heart rate with a fitness tracker. Get creative and find the data.

  • List your successes and failures.
  • Address your failures.
  • Adjust your approach.

Part 7: Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice is king. In fact, if you take a look at the book, Outliers: The Story of Success, you’ll see that practice is just about the only thing that matters. The book examines a wide variety of experts in their respective professions, even musicians, a field that the average person considers to be largely dependent on a certain amount of innate talent.

What was found was that the only reliable predictor of success was the number of hours that the individual practiced. Gladwell asserts that if someone practices 10,000 hours of something, they will achieve the highest level of skill.

You might be asking: If practice is the only thing that matters, then what was the point of this article? A fair question. The bulk of this post is to give you a process and the tools to allow yourself to practice regularly and enthusiastically.

You are now equipped to:

  • Find your passion.
  • Set goals effectively.
  • Visualize your goals and meditate to make them a reality.
  • Stop trashing yourself and start supporting your efforts.
  • Evaluate your progress and make adjustments.

All of these steps will make it easier to build or at least identify your strengths as quickly as possible.

Practice Strategies

Now let’s look at some practice strategies.

  • Practice as often as possible.
  • Have a plan.
  • Practice the right things.
  • Evaluate after each session. The most important thing to remember is that the more you practice the better you will become.

Conclusion

In order to identify your strengths and fully develop them, you have to live and breathe them as much as possible. The first step is to find something you are passionate about. Then you have to focus your mind and heart on it. Finally, you have to measure your progress, let go of perfection and give yourself a pat on the back for getting your goals met. Good luck and don’t stop believin’ in you.

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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