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Identify Your Talents in 9 Easy Steps

Identify Your Talents in 9 Easy Steps

What are you good at? Would you know what to say if someone asked you to identify your talents? You may balk at the question. While you may secretly believe you don’t have any talent, you do. Often it’s hard to identify because your talent can feel like second nature. What you assumed was easy could actually be really difficult for other people.

So how do you identify your talent? Try these 9 steps to identify talents.

1. Identify What You Love to Do

Write down a list of activities you enjoy. It can include anything from hula hooping to making chicken pot pie. Without any judgment write it all down. If you’re stuck, try asking yourself these questions:

  • What do you enjoy doing without being asked?
  • What do people have to drag you away from doing?
  • What activities make you lose track of time?
  • What would you do for free?

To be fair, this list is more of a passion list than a talent list. For instance, I love dancing but that doesn’t mean I will try out for the next Step Up movie. Often, though, to truly be talented at something requires hundreds of hours of practice. Passion can give you the energy and joy to help you reach talent.

2. Know Your Interests

While similar to knowing what you love to do, interests are more about what you love learning, reading or watching. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • What types of things do you like to read?
  • What do you enjoy talking about?
  • What do you enjoy watching?
  • What topics catch your eye?

In all likelihood, this may dovetail with your passions. Someone who likes to play music may find themselves reading music blogs online, too. But, you may also be interested in business and following the financial news.

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An interest list can help you identify possible combinations of passion and interest. From there, you can start taking your talents to new levels.

3. Identify Previous Successes

For this list, write down successes you’ve experienced in the past. This list can reveal your talents that you’ve been using without even realizing it. Some things to consider as you write include:

  • Classes you rocked at
  • Assignments or rojects you did well
  • Anything that made you say, “I did great in this”

Once you’ve written this list down, go through it. What are similar about these successes? What did you do well in them? Perhaps you were a natural facilitator in conflict. Maybe you are great at raising funds for organizations. It may take some time to find the similarities, but you will find your own patterns to emerge from your list. These patterns are crucial to identifying talents you can use for the future.

4. Take Some Tests

Test Taking

    For further clarification, there are some great personality quizzes. Myers-Briggs, DISC, or even the Book ‘Please Understand Me’ by Kiersey can help you gain further insight on yourself. None of these quizzes on their own can identify your unique talents. They do give you more insight on yourself, how you process things and what energizes or causes you fatigue. They can help make it easier for you to discover your strengths, where your talents may lie.

    5. Interview Someone

    Sometimes, an outside perspective can be clearer than your own. Talk to people who know you well: friends, family member, even a mentor. Ask them questions like:

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    • What do they think you are good at?
    • What have you’ve succeeded at doing previously?
    • What makes you light up?

    Keep an open mind while they talk. You don’t have to agree with everything they say. Still, the answers they have may surprise you.

    6. Know Your Weaknesses

    Just as everyone has talents, we all have weaknesses. Mine include going to bed before 11 pm and resisting social media, amongst others. The fact is, we can’t be good at everything. None of us is perfect, and acknowledging our weaknesses can help show what we are good at.

    It can be a bit painful, but write them down. Questions to ask yourself include:

    What takes you a long time to do?
    What do you procrastinate?
    What makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable?

    Knowing these will help you identify any weak spots in your passions and interests. This will be helpful to know for later.

    7. Start Putting it Together

    You’ve done the research; now you have to see what comes forward. You don’t have to comb through every note or thought from each of these lists. Some questions to ask yourself include:

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    Are there patterns emerging from your interests, successes and passions? What are they?
    What can you combine from these lists?
    What do you dream of doing?

    From here, you may identify multiple talents, or just one that you want to focus on.

    8. Practice, and Practice Well

      No matter what, you have to practice.

      It may come naturally to you, but you still have to work at mastery. In identifying a talent, this step is a trial by fire. Practice your talent, and practice it a lot. You don’t have to spend eight hours a day at it. If you have a full time job, try spending just 30 minutes a day.

      Groaning at trying to find 30 minutes? You can do it. Take a look through your day. Are you watching an hour or two of tv when you get home from work? Turn off the TV. If you’re struggling, put a timer on for 30 minutes, and don’t turn it on until the time has passed.

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      There are other, less obvious points in your day when you could practice. Perhaps you spend more than 25 minutes commuting. If you can, take that time to work on your talent. Sing while you’re in the car, or giving a speech. Can you take time during your lunch break? See where you have pockets of time. You can reallocate time away from Facebook or Twitter, and towards your talents. This is the real test that will prove whether or not your talent will stick. Is this a possible long term vocation or just a passing phase?

      More than just practice, you need to practice well. If you’re serious about your talent, you also need to know your weaknesses. The difference between good and great isn’t the number of hours they put in, but that they work at improving their weaknesses. Working on weakness isn’t easy, but creating a reward system for yourself can help you get through the uncomfortable aspect of looking at your own weakness.

      9. Find a Mentor

      If you’ve been practicing regularly, and want to continue with your talent, find someone with more experience than you in the field. It doesn’t have to be a nobel prize winner. What you do want is someone with some more experience who can give good advice.

      More importantly, knowing what you need and want from a mentor is crucial. Do you need support? Do you need someone to challenge you? Your personality tests and strengths and weaknesses will be helpful in figuring out these answers.

      Not sure where to look? Some good places include:

      • LinkedIn networks. If you went to college, look at your alumni network. This can be a great way to reach out to people who may do what you love. Introduce yourself and ask to meet them for coffee to learn about their experiences.
      • Networking Events. Go to events in your field of interest. Conferences, meeetup groups, or just happy hours. See who you meet, and reach out to them after the event with a follow up email
      • Ask for Help. Mention to friends and family you are looking for a mentor. They may know someone who can help you that you never thought of before.

      Identifying a talent isn’t easy. But following something you are not only good at but also passionate about will make your life more rewarding. More so, you’ll be giving something meaningful back to the world that only you can provide. Perhaps it’s your unique take on manufacturing stocks. Maybe you do a wicked Jazz guitar. Whatever your talent is, it’s worth pursuing.

      Featured photo credit: Dusty J via photopin.com

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      How to Fight Information Overload

      How to Fight Information Overload

      Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

      This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

      As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

      What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

      1. Set your goals.
      2. Decide whether you really need the information.
      3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
      4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

      But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

      The Nature of the Problem

      The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

      When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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      No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

      That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

      Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

      Why information overload is bad

      It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

      Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

      The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

      You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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      So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

      1. Set your goals

      If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

      Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

      Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

      Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

      2. What to do when facing new information

      Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

      First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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      If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

      And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

      You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

      3. Minimal Effective Dose

      There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

      Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

      4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

      Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

      This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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      Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

      In Closing

      As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

      Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

      (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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