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10 Ways To Identify Your Talents And Utilize Them

10 Ways To Identify Your Talents And Utilize Them

So you’re stuck, huh? Welcome to the crowd. With constant peer pressure from social media to define ourselves in 140 characters or less, it’s no surprise that who we actually are gets lost in the shuffle. But once we get away from those glowing screens of identity-makers, how do we decide what our strengths are and how to use them? Identify your talents and start using them now with these ten simple tips:

1. Take a personality test. 

Think these tests are a one size fits all approach? Think again. Personality tests are an objective way of understanding what makes you tick. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular tool to help you define the patterns in your seemingly complex personality. Once you know which category you fall into, you can start seeing your strengths and weaknesses more clearly in everyday life. Use this to your advantage by walking into a job interview, first date or any other high stakes situation and playing to your newly discovered strengths.

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2. Find what makes you feel strong.

Ever have those moments when everything feels easy and light? You know that you have the answer or are capable of finding the answer? When we are drawn toward a sense of ease that is usually our inner talent scout speaking up. Notice when you feel your strongest and create more opportunities to feel that way. If you’re naturally good with kids, see if you can volunteer time at an after school program or babysit for a friend who needs a little help. Let your strengths lead your schedule.

3. Find what you spend the most money on.

We often put our money where our mouth is when it comes to what we desire. Using easy and free applications like Mint to go back through your finances is a great way to notice where you pour your dollars. When you follow the green you discover what you value, and chances are you have a knack for what you value. If you go back through your yearly spending and notice that your biggest expense is that group fitness class you love, use that as a sign of your athleticism. Sign up for a road race, try a new kind of class or simply just commit to a healthy lifestyle.

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4. Ask your friends what your best and worst qualities are. 

You know they are going to be brutally honest. But the great thing about asking a handful of trusted friends about your qualities is that they all usually say the same thing. It’s enlightening to hear different people see you in the same light and this is definitely an indicator of talent. Use your friends’ perspectives here to work on what you’d like to do better. Are you compassionate but also a little bit on the chatty side? Use your compassion to slow down, breathe and give others the right of conversational way. Use your natural talents to improve those parts of your M.O. that might need a little work.

5. Ask your family what you loved as a child.

Sometimes the people who have known us the longest are the people who know us the best. Ask your family what you used to do as a kid – maybe you always played alone, with friends, made up stories, wrote, drew, acted out scenes, played baseball, read books. More than likely these are things you still love today, but some things we easily forget as we grow into responsible, mature, serious adults. Take these recollections as a hint to get busy playing again. See how much of your childhood you can recreate in your adulthood by following your sense of play. Using your talents in recreation gives your brain a chance to play, making you more productive in every other area of your life.

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6. Write in a journal. 

Let your thoughts flow onto a few pages every morning and walk away from them for the rest of the day. Stream of consciousness writing can be very effective at identifying your talents. Come back after a week and re-read your pages. You’ll notice a lot of your thoughts circle back to one main idea. This is usually a talent or desire. Use your writing to look for hidden answers. What are you missing? What are you longing for? What opportunities do you wish would come through? Then, use your journal to create a list of your strengths and a list of opportunities to set new goals that are aligned with those strengths.

7. Look for talent in others. 

Sometimes being inspired by others’ talents makes us realize what we’re good at, too. If you are a writer and you read something that absolutely connects with your soul, try to define what exactly lit you up. Conversely, if you see talent in others and feel jealous (don’t you worry, we all do this) you can use this to your advantage as well. Ask this person to mentor you, give you advice or simply chat over coffee. Reaching out and seeing talent in others will open up opportunities and connections while helping you define your own.

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8. Take stock of your book/music/movie collections. 

The media we consume says a lot about what we value, but what we own says something even larger. This is a true identity maker. I am extremely aware of what books I read on the subway because I know that I’m outwardly identifying something hidden about myself on my morning commute. Glance through all of your collections, what is the one resonating idea? This is probably something that lights your fire. Dig further into this, is there a convention, a class, a workshop you could take to use this talent? How can you connect with others who enjoy the same thing as you? All of these avenues lead to connections and potential networking, so go ahead with your talented self.

9. Remember what you have been thanked for.

When people thank us for something, they have been helped in some way. Notice what you are thanked for on the regular. Are you a good listener? A good teacher? A good motivator? All of these things are talents even though they seem small. Remember that your talents shouldn’t just be in service to other people, but to you as well. If you’re in a constant mode of selflessness, use your talent as a caregiver to take care of yourself. Know that as you give to yourself, you’re growing your ability to give to others.

10. Be open to change. 

Know that as we age, our tastes change and our strengths grow. Don’t allow yourself to be complacent by telling yourself the same story over and over again. If you say, I’m not athletic because I didn’t play sports in high school, you’re not giving your current self a chance to identify new talents. Being open to change means letting go of preconceived notions and honestly absorbing the world around you. This kind of openness will lead you to discover new talents and help prepare you to tackle any challenge life throws your way.

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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