Discovering your hidden talents can be incredibly difficult to do. After years of concentrating on one specific skill or occupation, whether it is computer engineering or social media marketing, you have either neglected or forgotten about your gift for prose, culinary arts or music. And you’re not the only one who feels they have abandoned their talent.
Many people have certain strengths that do not get cultivated because they are too busy paying the bills and revelling in the comfortable status quo. This can be frustrating since a lot of professionals feel they lack a true purpose in life, causing many workers to become disgruntled with their treadmill employment and disappointed with their career choice.
After witnessing Baby Boomers get kicked to the curb by their employers of three decades following the Great Recession, their generational successors have not learned any lessons from these events. According to LinkedIn’s 2016 Purpose at Work report, 48% of those aged 51 or older revealed they prioritised purpose over salary and positions, followed by 38% of Generation Xers and 30% of millennials.
Perhaps it is time to ditch the paycheque and focus on finding a job that nurtures your natural gifts. Unfortunately, there is a roadblock: trying to determine what those talents are in the first place.
Here are seven simple – but very effective – ways to find your hidden talents and offer a little bit of meaning into your existence.
1. Do Some Introspection
In today’s fast-paced, highly-connected and technologically-advanced environment, we often fail to look within ourselves. When was the last time you sat at a coffee shop or on a bus and just reflected without having an itch to look at your smartphone? We don’t know how to do this, but it is an artform that needs to be rekindled, especially when you’re attempting to identify who you really are.
By rummaging through your mind – asking yourself questions, peering through memories or making a list of what your favourite hobbies are – you can certainly discover what you’re good at.
Introspection is itself a gift that many of your friends, colleagues or family members lack. We all have this ability, but our obsession with distractions has diminished the skill to scrutinise ourselves.
Of course, you can’t make the mistake of trying to only come up with obvious talents, like playing the cello or tossing a knuckleball. In the end, it is the little things that can prove to be valuable, such as reading fast, talking backwards or even being a team leader – that last one is likely the most treasured in the modern-day workforce.
2. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
We don’t like change. We usually resist it. No matter how bored we become with our professional or personal lives, we don’t appreciate it when our comfort gets disrupted. We get anxious, angry and apprehensive. But how can we advance our lives if we stick to what we know rather than what we don’t know?
The answer? You can’t – which means you will be stuck in neutral, dissatisfied with life.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is a necessity if you are finding meaning, testing your strengths or improving your abilities. Whether you want to facilitate the nourishment of your mind or transition into a different career with a new talent, you need to take risks, muster up some energy and resist fear.
Here are a few ideas to consider embracing:
- find out how you occupy your time when you’re not in the office and then prioritise
- make time that is just for you; self-discovery requires only ‘you time’
- build on a current skill you have, like composing chamber music or writing poetry
- try an activity that you have never experienced before
- enroll in a class that teaches you a subject you’re interested in
- volunteer to help your community, meet new people and become passionate about something.
3. Experience the Gifts of Life
There is one more thing that most people wish they could do but can’t because of cost, time or responsibilities: travel the globe, see exotic sights and learn new cultures.
By traveling, you are presented with a wide array of challenges, inspirations and struggles. For example, visiting a small British town might give you an idea for a novel. Or, as another instance, rock climbing in Northwest Australia might require you to test your endurance and problem-solve.
Traveling, especially alone, can leave a lasting mark on your mind, body and soul. Whether you want to saunter through Venice or hike through the Scottish Highlands, if you take even a single month out of the year, you have the opportunity to permanently change your entire life.
4. List Your Strengths and Weaknesses
What are we good at? What are we bad at? We don’t truly know unless we think about it and write it down. And this is what you need to do moving forward.
Either first thing in the morning or last thing before bed, sit down, grab a pen and paper, and outline your various strengths and weaknesses. You may be successful in solving murder mysteries in Agatha Christie novels by the fourth chapter, beating opponents in seven moves in a game of chess and learning a language rather quickly. On the other hand, you may be unsuccessful in arriving to appointments on time, cooking pasta and reading body language.
Some people might say that they don’t know how to tap into their talents, but with a little bit of patience, thought and concentration, you can easily identify your gifts.
5. Take a Personality Test
Because we sometimes feel like the ghost of a total stranger, we don’t know who we are. So, how exactly can you discover who you are? A personality test is a popular source for self-discovery.
A simple Google search will yield dozens of free, accurate and reliable personality tests that utilise a diverse panoply of measurements, theories and algorithms. Everything from Carl Jung’s personality type theory to elementary questions that dive deep within your mind, a character quiz can assess your strengths, help you find a hidden talent and even employ a desire to improve yourself.
6. Start a Daily Journal
Have you ever considered penning the story of your life? It may sound like narcissism and you may feel that you’re not interesting enough, but a daily journal can serve as insight into your mind and as a log into your past. It is a sublime tool to both know who you are and what your gifts are.
This simple but helpful exercise should consist of multiple subjects: childhood, academic career, romance, interests and the future. You can also delve into the abstract, such as what makes life worth living, where you see yourself in 10 years’ time and what you would do if money was not an issue. It is also imperative to be honest; self-deception will not aid your crusade to purpose and success.
One more thing: you don’t need to worry about spelling, grammar, style and the Oxford comma. Just write with reckless abandon of the English language and glimpse into yesterday, today and tomorrow.
7. Check Your High School Report Cards
They often say that the most important time of your life is in high school. There is a reason why that is a correct adage: you’re at the height of puberty, you’re attempting to pave your path, you’re carving out your personality and you’re preparing for the future. High school is that bridge between childhood and adulthood that far too many of us regret not taking full advantage of.
Your high school report cards are artefacts that offer a historical account of what you were most interested in or what courses were easier than others. An A+ in English suggests you are a natural at reading and writing, while a C+ in mathematics proves numbers are not your strong point. You also received an A- in art, media and drama. It is apparent by these report cards that you are an artistic person and maybe this is what you should have applied your time, energy and resources to all along.
It is true that many of us are different people 5, 10 or 15 years removed from high school. You may have enjoyed chemistry and biology in the 10th grade, but at 30 years of age, your interests have veered into classic literature, Medieval history and stamp collections. Nonetheless, it’s a worthwhile pursuit.
Determining who you are, discovering new interests and finding your hidden talents will inevitably be an extensive, arduous and difficult process, but it is a lifelong adventure that never concludes. The journey is certainly an investment, but it is an endeavour that will pay dividends through purpose, contentment and excitement.
You will unavoidably come across hurdles and there will be bumps in the road that will make you want to concede defeat and return to the sofa in a fetal position. The more you try, the more you will be able to handle adversity – and this is a strength that you can be proud of.
Can you think of other ways to find your hidden talents? Join the conversation down below and let us know!