In a world that glorifies a busy schedule, that encourages us to keep moving that measuring stick a little farther away, it’s easy to lose our sense of purpose.
When we’re burnt out, stressed out, discouraged or bored, we can find ourselves unable to answer that all-important question: Why do we do what we do?
Being able to reply, with certainty and confidence, is crucial to our wellbeing. We’re calmer, better able to cope with life stresses, and we live longer, as research often shows.
But what happens when the answer to that question—what’s your purpose—suddenly becomes unclear?
I tell my clients: Look to your strengths.
Knowing what you’re good at and why is incredibly validating as you navigate careers and relationships. I experienced this recently as I talked with my own coach, Whitney Johnson, about my desire to better position myself and my coaching business.
She encouraged me to take a second look at my StrengthsFinder report, a personal assessment that helps people identify the things they’re good at.
I took the test for the first time three or four years ago, before I became a coach. My greatest strengths? Empathy, Connectedness, Responsibility, Arranger and Activator.
Returning to these results felt so good. I’m viewing them from a different vantage point from when I first took the test, but it reconfirmed this: I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.
Another way to uncover your talents is to ask yourself what compliments you often receive and easily dismiss. Do people praise your ability to listen and relate to their problems? Do you often get heralded as someone who loves to learn? Pay attention to these descriptors—and let them substantiate what you do.
Finally—and I find this thought particularly fascinating—consider what you loved to do as a child. What you did then (when you were simply doing based on curiosity) almost always says something about what you’ll love as an adult.
I had a penchant for getting involved in student council, befriending the new kids at school and falling into deep conversations with close friends on the trampoline. These are skills I still use regularly.
I recently took a tour of a Montessori school, and a teacher there confirmed this theory. She said she can often predict what a student will become—architect, artist, engineer—based on what interests them as a child.
Consider what you loved to do as a child. Ask yourself what compliments you receive. And if you want to go even further, try StrengthsFinder. However you do it, identify your strengths.
Your purpose, then, should come into focus.
If you need help uncovering your strengths, I’m an executive coach who works with clients nationwide on personal and professional development. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.