This morning I've spent some time making lists—my skills, my resources, what I love doing. It's a good practice to take stock every now and then, because you can find a few threads in the knotwork that you never knew were there. I've committed to doing this regularly, any time I feel like I need a bit of inspiration, because it gives me a quick jolt of energy and passion. It's a great practice to get into, and it can help you figure some stuff out.
If you're having trouble figuring out what to do next, or what your purpose might be, or just who it is that you really are, try this process:
Write down your top 10 skills
I like bullet lists. I admit it. Kind of a dork that way. And if you peruse anything I've written from a "planning" standpoint, the ever-present bullet list is, well, ever present. But my geekitude aside, I really believe that listing things out is a great way to figure our or remind yourself of what you have and what you want.
You got skillz, bro. Or sis. Actually, sis doesn't work as well. Forget I said sis. But the point is, you've been blessed with talents and skills that add up to make you someone unique in the world.
Notice, I didn't say your skills were unique. Chances are, whatever you do, someone else also does it. They may even do it better. Someone else can draw, paint, write, play music, create spreadsheets, organize events, or even play video games better than you. Maybe. But they definitely lack the one trait that makes you special and unique: You. Your you-ness.
So don't worry about listing skills that are special and unique to you. List those that you value most. List 10 skills that make you feel really good about yourself, really excited, really special. List the skills that make you feel empowered, that you feel you do better than most people, if not everyone. If anyone has ever come to you saying, "I needed this, and you were the first person I thought of," and that made you feel like a rock star, put that on the list.
Write down your top 10 resources
I have a few friends whom I know I can call for just about anything. They have skills and talents of their own that come in handy pretty often. I know the sorts of things they're good at, but also what they love doing. So when I need something, I text them. Nobody calls anybody anymore.
I also have a whole bunch of equipment I've gathered over the years—computers, cameras, microphones, camping gear, power tools, you name it. I carry a Swiss Army knife at all times. I have little pocket tools on my keychain, in my wallet, in every nook and cranny of my truck.
I have a lot of resources.
You probably have more than you realize. In fact, once you start listing them, 10 is going to feel like a pitifully small number. So pick the top contenders—those resources that match your top 10 skills best. Pick the resources that give you a little twinge of excitement when you think about using them. Those are your keepers. Everything else is on the backup list, which should give you even more confidence. You're kind of a resource magnet, right?
Write down the things you have always done well, and love doing
When I was a kid, I wrote stories or dictated into a tape recorder whenever I had a chance. I would talk to my friends about ideas, and my enthusiasm and excitement for those ideas was always enough to get us off on an adventure, doing something fun and maybe a little dangerous.
Later, as an adult, I would occasionally speak to crowds, or lead a class. I would teach, and I would talk. I would produce videos or podcasts. And I would find myself getting inspired, using metaphors and stories and examples, until the audience was inspired, too.
Turns out, I love doing three primary things: Writing, talking, and teaching. All three of these have a common thread in storytelling—so in my world they're all part of the same passion. I love connecting with and inspiring people, and teaching and coaching them to do something that will make their lives better. I love communicating with an audience.
I also love solving problems, especially by connecting people. I know a guy, and I can get a thing done. I can help. That's very important to me—to help people solve problems, but (as often as possible) to do so by helping someone else to do the thing they love doing, too.
When you look back at your life, what are the things you've always done, on reflex, that made you feel really happy and excited? When you think about doing something on a weekend or a day off, something you really look forward to and can't wait to get to, what is it? I'm not talking about vacation stuff—not necessarily. I'm asking, in your "mundane world," what is something you look forward to doing when you have time to do it?
Chances are, that's an indicator of the kind of thing you'd be happy doing in your career. Or, if you look at it closely enough, it might at least hold hints of something you would love.
Do you like writing stories? Dig restoring furniture? Into gardening? Like to shoot photos? Get a little thrill out of taking the kids camping?
Most of those don't seem like "careers," at first glance. But there are people out there doing that sort of thing for a living, and doing pretty well. Or, if it's not their full time career, it might be part of it. There are always options for adding something you love to the equation. Your job is to get creative about your list, looking at the things you love and asking, "What careers would let me do that?" You're going to be surprised at the number of answers you get.
If you're having trouble thinking of any, contact me. I'll talk you through it. Because I promise, whatever you're passionate about, there's a way to add that to your life and career.
Taking stock, making lists, reviewing what you have and what you can do and what you love—this is how you figure out your passion, and how you determine the direction of your career and your life. Take the time for it. This really pays off. And, special bonus, it's actually fun. You'll walk away from this feeling energized and ready for anything.
Go. List. Discover you.