Find Your Strengths, Identify Your Weak Spots, And Choose Your Success in Life
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP | Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach
Everyone eventually gets to the point in their life where they need to do some self-evaluation and inner reflection. Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Have you reached the point of feeling that it's time to examine your life? Perhaps you are just starting and it's too early to take stock. If you are just getting your life on track, you may be working hard to get going.
But if you have reached mid-life, perhaps you have started to take stock. And if you haven't yet, you will. That happened to me in my forties. I had just realized that I would never have children of my own. I hadn't ever really pined to become a mother the way many women do. I just assumed it might happen someday. When it was clear that it wasn't going to be a choice any longer, I went through a period of grieving. I was sad for a while about what might have been. And I considered other essential questions while I was at it. I think we all do sooner or later.
So I urge you to consider where you are in your life right now. Determine if you are on the path that best suits you. Is it leading where you want to be at least eventually? More importantly, perhaps, decide which direction to go if you realize you need to make a change in direction sooner rather than later.
If you want to be successful, you’ll need to take some time to consider each choice you have made up until now.
If it feels like it's time for a change, you need to consider how the change will affect you. Not only today and in the immediate future but down the road as well. Where will the move you make now take you in the next five years? Where will you be ten years from now if you stay where you are as opposed to where you will likely be if you make what I refer to as a "course correction?"
Of course, we can't always see where a change we make might take us. I have recently reflected on how my life might have been different had I made different choices 20 years ago. The good news is that I have no regrets about any of the decisions I made. But occasionally, I can't help but wonder how things might have turned out if I had taken a different path. Robert Frost wrote about the "road not taken." We all have "roads" that we took which eliminated other choices (roads) that we might have chosen instead.
This is tough inner work, but you need to do if you want to work from a place of strength and not of weakness throughout your life.
Of course, if you are married or in a serious relationship, you can't only consider how your next move will affect you, either. You must also think the impact any change you make will have on your entire family.
And here is something you may not have considered before. The only "weaknesses" you should care about are those within one of four specific domains that are crucial in life. Consider these four domains as the physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of who you are as a unique individual.
Consider whether or not any of these four domains are interfering with or inhibiting your ability to achieve the success you want in your life. Have you let your health go, and as a result, your physical experience is suffering? Have you given up on being curious and therefore your mental capacity is suffering? Have you cut yourself off from your community and so your social self is not thriving? Or have you stopped exploring your spiritual side and thus lost faith in or touch with your Higher Power? You may have neglected one or a combination of these areas, but you do so at your own peril. If you wish to live your life to the fullest, you need to nurture each of these domains regularly. They need your constant and vigilant attention.
Consider also that there are three specific areas in your life in which you can find and build on your strengths. They are (1) work, (2) personal, and (3) play.
How to Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses
There are many tools that you can use to help you evaluate yourself. I will share some others in future posts in the next few weeks. But for now, consider the following questions:
1. What do you do every day? Most people tend to spend time on the things they like to do more than the things they do not want to do or enjoy. It’s often the struggle between our feelings about the two that causes strife, not the specific activities themselves. If you find yourself easily making time for activity "A" but avoiding activity "B" all the time, you should note that. People gravitate toward things they’re naturally good at doing because it comes easily to them.
2. What do other people think about you? The people around you likely have an opinion about what you are good at and what you’re not so good at. If you are really into trying to identify your strengths, ask them for their thoughts. This feedback can help you determine what others think of you and think you’re good at. Sometimes what people believe you’re good at is different from your opinion of yourself. It doesn’t mean you are wrong. But if that happens, try to identify why there's a difference in perception.
They may identify something that you have always taken for granted about yourself. When I was a teenager, I commented to my best friend in high school that I didn't have a specific talent. My sister could draw, my brother could draw and was a talented musician. I didn't have either of those talents. She looked at me somewhat shocked and said, "Are you kidding me? YOUR talent is that you know exactly the right thing to say and when to say it."
That may not be the same as being able to sing on "The Voice," but it was also something I had never considered "special" about me.
A word of caution. Don't do this unless you are fully prepared to hear what they say. And assure them that they can be honest with you. The purpose of this exercise is to gather information about yourself that you can use in setting new goals for yourself. The thing is we all have blind spots, and asking a good friend or sibling for their honest feedback can be tremendously useful.
What you cannot do is ask for their feedback and then be mad if they tell you something you didn't enjoy hearing. You need to be prepared for the good and the bad, so you can adjust your success goals accordingly.
3. What do other people say about you? What people think about you and what they say about you may be two different things. For example, It takes courage to dig into the truth of what people have to say about your behind your back, but it is powerful information if you have the courage to seek it out. Again, you need a good friend or sibling who is willing to help you out by being honest. And if you don't think you can take the information if it turns out to be negative, don't do it. This is an exercise for the brave of heart who are serious about setting new life goals for themselves based on all the information they can gather from every source.
4. What do you like to talk about? Most people find themselves talking about the things they are good at doing and love to do. Occasionally you may find yourself focusing on negativity. You can wind up talking about the things you dislike, hate, or are failing at too often. Those things are important to note, too. But if something makes you feel especially good, then you’re likely good at it and like it. That’s a significant thing to pay attention to as well.
And don't overlook the possibility that you are complaining a lot and focusing on the negative. I have a friend who is having a really tough time at work. It has become all consuming. Every time we are together, she manages to bring the conversation back to something awful that happened to her or one of her colleagues. I try to be supportive, so I listen. But at times I want to ask her what she is doing to address the situation. Dr. Phil has famously said we either "contribute to or contaminate" situations. If you catch yourself complaining a lot about anything--work, your spouse, your house--anything at all--note it and see what you may do to change the situation that is bugging you so much.
5. What is one mistake that you keep repeating? You may realize that you do the same things over and over again, including your mistakes. This can usually be traced back to insisting on doing things that just aren’t natural to you. As long as these things aren’t part of the four domains (physical, mental, social and spiritual), you can let go of these types of weaknesses. The reason you can't let go of any of the four domains is that you need all four of them to be working in your life if you want to experience real success in your life.
As you ask yourself these five questions, take notes. Write down what comes up for you so that you can analyze the information. It’s likely that you will start to see both your strengths and your weaknesses within the answers. Don't beat yourself up for any of the stuff you think might be wrong. Just note it and take steps to address it. Remember, it's YOUR life. You don't have to answer to anyone but yourself. And it is your success and happiness that you are striving to attain.
Next week, I will offer some thoughts on how you can capitalize on your strengths after you have identified them.
Until next time.
Wait! Before you go!
If your inner reflection reveals that it is time to look for a new job, you need to know that I will be starting a new Group Coaching Cohort on Saturday, November 3rd for a 16-week period dedicated to helping members of the group learn what they need to know about changing their job or career.
The calls take place every other Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM EST for about an hour. The dates of this cohort will be impacted some because of the holidays, but I anticipate the dates of the cohort's meetings to be as follows:
November 3, 2018
November 17, 2018
December 1, 2018
December 15, 2018
January 5, 2019
January 19, 2019
February 2, 2019
February 16, 2019
By mid-February, you will have all the tools you need for finding the job or career of your dreams and make 2019 the year of your new career.
To find out more, click here or contact me by responding to this email.
I would love to have you join us!