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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 talents.
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. Multiple studies have found that people are willing to earn less in exchange for more meaningful work. It has also been proven that people who work in purpose-driven companies are less likely to leave their jobs, leading to higher retention rates.
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 effective ways to find your hidden talents.
1. Think about what you enjoy
In today's fast-paced, hyper-connected society, where it is easy to drown in a never-ending stream of content, it is easy to lose sight of yourself and what makes you happy.
From time to time, it is important to consider what you enjoy doing, from your hobbies to your interests. It doesn't matter if it's playing Dungeons and Dragons or re-reading Vladimir Nabokov's short stories.
By doing some introspection, you can ensure that you can find your hidden talent because these little joys can tap into what you're good at.
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 a neutral zone, dissatisfied with life.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is a necessity if you are searching for 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 ‘me time’
- Build on a current skill you have, like composing music or writing poetry
- Try an activity that you have never experienced before
- Enrol in a class on 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 world, see exotic sights and learn about 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 rock climbing in Northwest Australia might require you to test your endurance.
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? You won’t truly know unless we think about it and write it down. And this is what you need to do moving forward.
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 identify your gifts.
5. Take a career assessment
Do you remember your high school career assessment? Yeah, it probably got it wrong.
That said, today's career assessments, have greatly advanced. Our very own career test, CareerHunter, is an essential tool for self-discovery which could help you get a better understanding of your intrinsic talents as well as explore your personality traits, motivations and broader interests.
Not only could a career assessment help you get a better understanding of your hidden talents, but it can also serve as a blueprint for potential career paths.
6. Start a daily journal
Have you ever considered penning the story of your life? It may sound narcissistic, 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 during 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 an 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 from when we were in 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.
8. Leave money out of the equation
It has been often said that if you find a career you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. Is this exceptional advice? You will eventually have an answer to this question in the coming years.
It can be easy to explore career options by focusing on salaries and overall compensation packages. However, focusing on your passion and interests instead when determining your talents, can push you in the right direction when making career choices.
While earnings potential is an important component to the process, you don't want your employment opportunities metastasise into a sunk cost.
9. Don't copy others
Yes, young entrepreneurs want to be the next Elon Musk and financial traders want to be the next Warren Buffett (or Jordan Balfort). But should you and can you emulate their success?
The better alternative is to not copy, but to be inspired by their work ethic and brilliant minds and concentrate on what they themselves are inherently great at doing. By taking this route, it encourages you to identify what you are naturally good at and how you can employ these skills and aptitutdes for your career objectives.
10. Ask for feedback
Oftentimes, trying to discover what you're good at comes by asking for feedback from family, friends, colleagues and professors. Their comments may be surprising to you because they may direct your attention towards things you never considered.
By having another person view your talents, you can find out what kind of profession you could excel in, whether you are freshly out of school or changing careers.
Discovering who you are, identifying new interests and finding your hidden talents can 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. However, the more you try, the more you will be able to handle adversity – and this is a strength that you can be proud of.
Join the conversation! Can you think of other ways to find your hidden talents? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 31 May 2018.