As a career and wellness coach, I talk to clients all the time who want to feel happier and more successful in their lives. Maybe they have to pick a college, a job, or decide whether to stay in a relationship. Most of the time, they start from the outside and try to force fit themselves into something they aren’t good at or they don’t enjoy. They do it for the money, or to please mom or dad or to avoid being weird. Often, they choose organizations that aren’t supportive of them, or surround themselves with people that don’t or can’t appreciate them for who they are. If any of this sounds familiar, (about you or someone you know) then here are five suggestions to consider:
1) Know who you are.
Get clarity about what you are good at, and also about what do you love to do. Consider all your skills and love. None of them are too small or too insignificant to count. Figure out if, or where those characteristics overlap. Maybe they don’t. On the other hand, how might you include both in your life? Could you put them together in a new and different way to invent something unusual? For example, maybe you are a skilled accountant and love listening to music, could you become an accountant for a radio station, a band or a performing arts organization?
2) Embrace and enhance your talents.
Once you know what you are good at, realize that it is not an accident. You are a unique expression of creativity in the universe. You have gifts. You have a style. Go with it. If you are a writer, write. A great caregiver? Give care. A maker? Make. A teacher? Teach. A good listener? Listen. Don’t fight it – appreciate it. Whatever you have to offer, I assure you, it is worthwhile. And, like a garden, if you tend to it, it will blossom into something beautiful that will bring joy to you and to others.
3) Invest Yourself in opportunities (and people) that fit with your special and unique gifts.
Success is all about “fit.” Find jobs, causes, people and/or organizations that will benefit from your skills and gifts. Seek to spend time with people and causes that you believe in. Go to them and offer your gifts. Develop your talents; hone them and make them grow. Even if what you choose is not your primary money making endeavor, invest time and energy because it will feed your soul. Wherever possible, surround yourself with people who appreciate you. Find a tribe. Even a single supportive friend or a pet can be enough companionship to give you the courage to align your life with your spirit. Commit to spending way less time with people who don’t encourage and support you.
4) Accept that learning is continuous.
Just because you are following your heart and taking care of yourself, doesn’t mean that everything will go smoothly. This is life. Things go wrong; circumstances change. Maybe you thought you really wanted to organize projects – so you took a desk job - and then found out that you are miserable unless you are doing lots of physical activity. It’s okay! It’s just new information. Go back to step one and two and then back to step three. Get creative. Don’t beat yourself up. No need for regret. Do what you need to do. Ask for support. Life is a journey; death is a destination.
5) Change it up as needed.
Making change can be difficult. As a human, you will likely only choose to change once the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. No matter. Once you are ready to make a change, go for it. Try something new. Look for the best fit – whether it’s a college, a relationship, a home or a job. It’s your life. It’s your happiness. Don’t squander any of it. Find a place that you can land and that feels like home. It may be challenging, but it will be worth it. Your real job in this life is to be yourself and to have fun doing it. Start by acknowledging your gifts and by loving who you are.