Discovering your strengths and likes

This is the second follow-up post to my previous post on mapping career path where I mentioned a way to map out your career growth path if you know your life goal, your value system, your strengths/weaknesses, your likes/dislikes, and your skills/competencies.

So how do you discover your strengths and likes?

One of the most interesting book on this topic is Marcus Buckingham’s Now, Discover your Strengths. The book describes 34 strengths and provides a test that can identify your strengths for you (this is claimed to be further refined, see here). Idea of the book is that once you know your strengths, you can align your work (or somone else’s) which leverages those strengths. You can use this to find your strengths.

However, there are aspects of your strengths that may not fit these descriptions, or for that matter any description, because only you know yourself the best. Similarly, what you like to do and what you don’t like, can not be accurately described by any test, you are the best judge. Therefore, it is best to try and interrogate/introspect yourself to find answer to the question I posed above.

Here are some ways I have found useful to get answers to some of these questions:

  • Your happiest moments of life (as it relates to your career)Most of the time, you are happy when you are doing what you like doing. Think of those times and see what you did that brought about that state of happiness. For example, if you were happiest when you published in your college magazine, maybe you like to write.
  • Your accomplishments: These may be pretty good indicators of your strengths. Make sure you analyze them and see what strengths you can identify. You may have some talent you haven’t noticed.
  • How others know you: Adjectives people use for you (assuming you can get them to tell you honestly!) is a good indicator of what they perceive as strength and weakness in you. Encourage them to talk to you about their impressions of you and you will discover a lot about yourself.

Getting to know your weaknesses and your dislikes is equally important, and above questions can help you get to know those too. Once you have a list of potential strengths and likes, write them down and see if they make sense.

Do you know your strengths and your likes? If you have other tips about discovering them, please post your comments or drop me a note.

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