How To Find Your Purpose Through Your Strengths — Kim Bielak
I have to admit, understanding my own strengths as identified by this tool was one of the most invaluable resources in helping me decide on the direction I wanted to pursue next in my career. Not only did it help me see why I was so passionate about some areas of work while I struggled to stay motivated under other circumstances, but it also gave me the language with which to talk about it. For example, knowing that two of my top strengths were “perspective” and “love of learning” while accepting that I often prefer to work more independently than with a team directly contributed to my decision to go back to school and pursue an MFT.
Our diverse strengths brilliantly reflect our unique backgrounds, life experiences and personal characteristics. As such, they lie on a continuum and are fluid, meaning they can change over time. You might find that yours align with things people have told you throughout your life, or reflect changes to your worldview as the result of major life events or simply getting older. While there is certainly an opportunity to identify areas in which you’d like to work to improve, the goal is not necessarily to be the “best” at them all. The primary aim is to simply recognize and play to the qualities and characteristics that work best for you.
Whether or not you find that your results perfectly align with your own concept of your strengths and values, I hope that they will lend themselves to at least a little bit of insight and self-reflection that you can apply to any of the following areas:
I like to think of strengths as similar to physical strengths and muscles. They help serve as protective factors against some of life’s major challenges, but intentionally cultivating them can also help us to achieve more. For example, mindfulness can simultaneously help protect us from the effects of automatic negative thoughts, while also increasing our ability to be intentional and accomplish the things we want in life. While the VIA lists out some of the more overarching and universal strengths and virtues across cultures, it is by no means exhaustive. Anything which you feel serves these ends is a strength which you can build upon.
One final word on purpose and passion: I’ve come to believe that most of us don’t necessarily have one single God-given and neatly packaged “passion” or “purpose” just waiting to to be found. In fact, I believe this narrative can actually limit us. Rather, by looking our passions and our purpose through the lens of our strengths, we see that both pursuits are directly influenced by our ever-evolving life experiences, and thus can be fluid, too. So give yourself permission to use your strengths to pursue and serve through a wide range of things you love over the course of your life, and to evolve them as as new contexts and life experiences mold your strengths and interests into new shapes, as well. Stay open, stay curious, and follow what feels good.
Kim is a Life and Career Coach and Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee in LA. To learn more, visit kimbielak.com.
Originally published at https://kimbielak.com on June 4, 2019.