Confucius said, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Great advice, but some of us have no clue what that job is because we don’t know our strengths or what we are passionate about.
Here are a few questions to help you put your strengths to work at a job you love.
What’s holding me back?
Before discovering our true calling and how to put our strengths to work, we have to first recognize what we are most afraid of. Are we afraid of failure, success, disapproval, something else? Take some time, find a quiet place, and ask yourself, “What am I afraid of when it comes to fulfilling my dreams and living in my strengths?”
What are my personal strengths?
My dad used to say that “a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none”. It’s true. Even though we live in a society of multi-tasking, the most successful people in life have been able to hone their expertise and build their successes around mastering their strengths. So how do you discover your strengths?
- Take an assessment. Some great online assessments can help you identify your key strengths. Try StrengthsFinder 2.0 (note that you’ll need an access code from a StrengthsFinder book) or the VIA Signature Strengths Survey.
- Reflect and journal: Writer and life coach Martha Beck once suggested that we “grab a pen and make a list of every time you remember being utterly, happily absorbed in an activity, no matter how odd.” Essentially she is encouraging you to think back to times when you were in the “flow,” meaning that when you were doing that particular task, you lost track of the world and of time.
Another way to reflect is to make three columns on a sheet of paper. In the first column, list all the jobs and volunteer activities you have done in the past. Then in the second column, write the particular tasks you performed in those jobs (answer phones, work with customers, etc.). Before you get to the third column, go back through the list of tasks in the second column and circle the items you enjoyed doing and were energized by; cross out the ones that drained you of energy or that you disliked. Now in the third column, examine the items you circled in column two. Are they strengths? If so, write them in the third column.
- Conduct a strengths exercise: In Marcus Buckingham’s book “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”, he suggests carrying around 3”x5” note cards for one week. As you go through your day, write down when you realize that you love what you are doing at that moment. Be specific about what’s going on and what you are doing. Also write down when you are unhappy and feeling drained by what you are doing. At the end of the week, look through your cards to identify your strongest moments. What top three strengths shine through in these moments?
How do I make the most of my strengths at work?
Now that you have discovered your strengths, you have to figure out how to use them to do your best at work. Buckingham once said that “good team members have realized that the right, most responsible thing to do is to identify where their strengths lie and then figure out how to arrange those strengths most of the time. They take it upon themselves to seek out others on the team who are strong where they are weak.” Each person on a team brings a unique set of gifts and talents, and you need to be willing to share with others what you are good at and where you need to rely on other people’s strengths to get the work done. Strive each day to make your best contribution at work by asking yourself, “How will I ensure that I put my strengths into play just a little more today than I did yesterday?”
Know that you have within you, right now, everything you need to discover and put your strengths to work. To unleash your passion, you may need to make changes in your beliefs and habits of thoughts. When you do, you will be able to begin living your strongest life now.
If you think your passion may be entrepreneurship – take this self-assessment survey now!
Author Dawn Kaiser:
As an employee assistance program (EAP) trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion: to energize, encourage, and equip others to achieve their highest visions and live their strongest lives. She draws on more than 10 years of experience in the human resource (HR)/organizational development field, a bachelor’s of business administration degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a master’s of education degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR professional.