How To Run Your Life On Your Strengths

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "If you haven't stopped to figure out your strengths, take some time to do so. Not knowing your strengths will keep you feeling uneasy and hesitant to make decisions."

Tribune News Service

Do you want to take control of your goals over the next few months? If so, you need to figure out what strengths you possess.

Maybe you're good at public speaking, starting a conversation with perfect strangers, engaging volunteers to help with special projects, or cheering people up when they're down.

Utilizing your strengths wisely will improve your relationships, job opportunities, decision-making skills, and management of your time and money on many levels.

Why? Your strengths enable you to get things done much faster. For example, if you're not shy, you can jump in and make phone calls that help your employer. Or, if you like studying the stock market, you can create a good portfolio for making extra money over the next few years.

If you haven't stopped to figure out your strengths, take some time to do so. Not knowing your strengths will keep you feeling uneasy and hesitant to make decisions.

"When I was a new hire at our local hospital, I was so shy," says a nurse we'll call Keri. "I had almost no friends."

She goes on to say, "One of my strengths is that I love to cook,so I started inviting people to my apartment on the weekends. I just served homemade soup, sandwiches, and dessert."

By the end of the year, Keri had many good friends coming over to her apartment. That's how she met her now-husband, Dwight.

What you do well will produce a lot of good things in all areas of your life. Here's why your strengths can open doors:

-Your talents can enhance your income. For example, if you're good at writing ad copy, volunteer to do this for your civic group or employer. It might lead to some freelance work on the side.

-You can help your family and friends succeed. What you find easy can lighten the burden of others. For example, a friend of ours is a great editor. She helped her brother in graduate school by editing his master's thesis.

-Your strengths can open new job opportunities. Being in touch with your strengths will help you avoid random career searches. If you know, for instance, that you love working with older people vs. children, this will make it easier to focus your efforts in opening the right doors.

"All of us need to run our lives based on our strengths," says a psychologist we'll refer to as Lillian. Lillian points out that dwelling on our weaknesses will cause us to base our decisions on fear. This is not a strong way to function in life.

All of us, in all of our relationships, will also profit by figuring out the strengths of those people around us.

"I used to focus on the weaknesses of my friends, family members and in-laws," says a teacher we'll call Paul. "But one day, I realized these people were my total support system! It was my job to brag on their strengths, encourage them, help them if I could, and learn to ask them for small bits of help here and there."

Paul sums up the idea of finding our personal strengths like this: "Discovering the strengths we each hold helps us see what's possible to accomplish. We don't have to delude ourselves into believing we're something we're not. We can find the positive aspects of our minds and personalities and do almost anything we'd like to do." ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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