Got Skills????

Last time I wrote I was talking about keeping New Year’s resolutions. And one of my tips was around using skills and resources already available to you to help you achieve your goals.

Often when I talk to young people about this they tell me they aren’t good at anything and they don’t have any resources available to them. The thing is…they do. We all do.

Everyone has strengths and abilities in a combination that is unique to them. Sometimes we just need a little help to start to see them. When we identify our strengths and come to value and use them, we start to see benefits to our lives in unexpected places. As well as helping to achieve goals, knowing our strengths can help us identify a good fit for a career path; write a good resume; or how we work best in a team. They can also help improve our confidence and self-esteem both by helping us to feel more capable and grounded in who we are; as well as helping us to be more effective in tackling challenging tasks and situations.  If you are interested in learning more about these things check out Daniel’s article on self-esteem or Mel’s article on who am I?

So, what do I mean by strengths? And how do we identify them?

The word “strengths” is really just a weight liftingfancy way of saying what you are good at. But instead of focusing on skills or abilities such as playing sport, cooking etc; strengths refer to inbuilt qualities about us such as optimism, reliability and determination. And just like other skills, these strengths can be grown and refined. But first you need to know what they are. Here are three ways to help you work that out…

Ask Yourself:

The first step in identifying strengths is to think about words you would use to describe yourself. If you get stuck, sometimes it helps to look at general lists of strengths which other people have made and see if there are ones that you identify with. We quite like the two found here http://generallythinking.com/battle-of-the-strengths-values-in-action-vs-strengthsfinder/ as this article compares two of the common lists of strengths people refer to. If neither of these appeal to you, see if you can make your own list of strengths by thinking about what qualities you admire in other people. Or have a look and see if you can find another list of strengths that works for you.

Ask Others:

If you are still stuck sometimes the best way to find out our strengths is by asking others. Look at old school reports or work references for inspiration.  Think about how your closest friends might describe you or what attracts them to you. Or what your parents and other family members might say if asked what your strengths are. If you don’t know, ask them. Think about negative things people might have said about you too, sometimes our strengths hide behind our weaknesses. For example: stubbornness could be determination in disguise or what one person describes as weak or a “pushover” another might describe as compassionate.

 Ask the Internet:

If all else fails…ask the internet. There is plenty of information out there on identifying strengths and using them effectively. You could also try out an online test such as this one found at Authentic Happiness or the one found at Action for Happiness.

Good luck! We’d love to hear how you went or any ideas you have on how to work out what your strengths are.

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