From a young age, we’re inundated with the ever persistent question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Naturally, many people suggest we pursue a career in what we’re good at.
But when we actually get a chance to explore our options?
Whew. That can feel overwhelming.
A lot of people reach adulthood feeling lost, and that’s totally okay — there’s plenty of time to find out! We’ll help you get started with this quick quizticle.
What do you do on a daily basis?
Examining your daily routines can be a great way to reflect on what comes naturally to you. Try mentally going through your daily routine step-by-step. Make a list of everything you do on a regular basis.
For example, do you run in the morning, make yourself breakfast and walk your dog before you go to work? Do you spend time regularly volunteering in your community, going on hikes or running errands?
Activities like these may seem simple to you, but what comes naturally to one person can be a challenge for someone else. One of my co-workers loves cooking and she makes the most intricate meals without breaking a sweat, but even the mere thought of trying to fry an egg makes me anxious.
What did you love to do as a kid?
When I was a kid, I was so much less inhibited about doing what I love than I am now as an adult. If I found it interesting or exciting (and it was possible), I just did it. Sometimes, this meant exploring a local park; other times, it meant building a monstrosity of a castle out of LEGO or blocks.
Reflecting on your childhood is a great place to start while you are trying to explore what you’re good at. Maybe you loved biking, or baking, or ballet — why not rekindle those passions today?
Sure, you might not be able to while away your days making a fortune enjoying childhood hobbies…but you can make a living from skills like baking (become a baker), biking (become a courier), or even ballet (teach dance). It’s all about finding your path by starting at who you really are.
What have people praised you for?
It’s often easier for others to spot our talents than for us to assess our own strengths. The reason behind this is another topic for another time, but essentially, it’s a combination of the fact that society praises being humble with the fact that most people are inherently biased about their own talents.
If you’re constantly undercutting your abilities, you may be selling yourself short, honestly. It’s very likely you’re more skilled than you think, and someone looking from the outside in might be able to see that more easily.
Can you remember a time when someone gave you a compliment about something you did? Maybe you helped a friend fix a car, plan a road trip, or fixed a hole in their favorite shirt. These are all valuable skills that you can be proud of!
When was the last time you were “in the zone?”
When you’re really into something, it almost never feels like work. You can use that to your advantage if you know how to spot when you’re “in the flow.”
Some people describe being in the “flow” as being so engrossed in something that you lose track of time and everything around you except what you’re doing.
Need an example? A close friend of mine once got so lost in painting that she didn’t realize she was drooling until her husband pointed it out to her!
These moments are important to notice. That trance-like state you enter when you’re super-focused on an activity is a trigger that can reveal how your brain works and what activities come naturally to you. In effect, you’re so naturally inclined to that activity, you don’t even really need to think consciously about what you’re doing.
Effortless work – who would have thought?
As you are exploring what you may be good at, remember this key point: it’s okay not to be a “jack of all trades.” It’s equally rewarding and valuable to be an expert in just one or two things and to build on those select skills.
I believe everyone has a talent; it just may take some people longer than others to find their own. Besides, there’s no time like the present to explore your boundless potential!