thoughts | no. 05


playing to your strengths

I’ve been on this quest for the past few years, where I try and define what “growing up” is. My only conclusions so far are that:

1. Growing up is not a physical achievement (such as a job or marriage or degree or house), it’s completely mental. You’re a grown up when you say you are.

2. It’s completely inconsistent – it doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone.

For me, growing up has a been a big process of learning. I’ve learned respect, empathy, selflessness, discipline and the like. I think each of these lessons brings me closer to wisdom and closer to feeling like an adult.

The big lesson of the past month for me has been learning to play to my strengths. Are you playing to your strengths? It’s an odd lesson because I feel like so many people innately “get” it. Many of my peers chose one major passion and have just ran with it, unlike myself. I’m one of those “jill of all trades” kind of women. I like just about everything and am not scared to try anything. I have learned photography, graphic design, science, writing, painting, boxing, cooking and yoga, to name a few of my recent hobbies. I am always taking classes or picking people’s brains or adapting to new things. I think learning is the thing I am innately good at. But recently I started realizing that the older I get, the more I have to settle down and just pick a few things to do. I want to do everything, but to be good at anything I’ve got to start focusing.

This shouldn’t be some huge devastating lesson to learn, but I can’t lie, it’s kind of shaken my world up a little bit. I’ve always clung to the notion that if I wanted to do something, all I have to do is try, but I’m beginning to notice that the more things I try to learn, the less skillful I actually become at the things I am good at. It’s simple logic that is just now hitting me. There is only so much time in a day and so much capacity in my brain and the more time I use on learning random things, the less there is to become better at the things I should be focusing on.

I think as I am working on putting on my game face and figuring out my resolutions for the rest of the year, I need to remember to play to my strengths and hone in on developing a few things I love, rather than trying to do it all.

I think a good way to start playing to your strengths is to make a list. What are the top five things you want to do? Which five skills do you want to develop and be known for? Which character traits most suit you? What are your biggest goals? Start writing those down. See which values are the most important to you? Creativity? Follow a skill in the arts. Empathy? Spend more time volunteering. Math? Keep pursuing web development.

After you have your first couple things you want to focus on, write down some steps for each that will help you get better.

For instance, I want to focus on graphic design this year. I desperately need to get better at a few programs so I’m going to take some classes and such.

1. Graphic Design
– practice every day
– take some skillshare classes
– outsource aspects of projects that take me too long so I can focus on the pieces I want to be good at
– network to grown my graphic design business
– put in more hours, wake up earlier, work in the evening

You can apply this principle to things other than skills though. Example: I want to lose weight that I gained last year as one of my big goals for 2014. I will be more effective if I play to my strengths and not force myself into methods I know won’t work.

1. Get Healthy / Lose Weight
– ease into changing my diet because last time i didn’t and quit being vegan quickly (i’m a better vegetarian than vegan, so i can commit to being a vegetarian and then start slowing becoming vegan again, instead of deciding to be vegan and giving up quickly because it’s too hard for my lifestyle)
– workout every day, consistency is key for me (i need to plan structured time into my schedule or else i’ll make mental excuses)
– don’t rely on workout classes, i’ll start skipping them and get out of routine
– calorie count – it’s annoying, but the honesty with myself keeps me motivated

Try it for yourself. Be real with what you’re good at and what you’re not, then develop your game plan. You might find yourself being unnaturally responsible!


1 comment on “thoughts | no. 05”

  1. I love love love this post. I feel exactly like you about wanting to do everything and yet failing to master a single one. You’re at the very least very good at being inspiring! Good luck with this year’s goals, lady.

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