Last week I watched a really interesting episode of Oprah featuring career coach and author Marcus Buckingham. The show followed Marcus as he led a group of women who were dissatisfied with their jobs through an extensive “career intervention” seminar.
One of the big lessons of the show was identifying your strengths, defined as the things that make you feel your best — organizing things, teaching, caring for others, being creative, doing detailed paperwork, crunching numbers, etc. — and finding a job in which you’re able to focus on your strengths as much as possible.
Business expert and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham has helped millions of people reach new levels of success and happiness at work — including employees at Coca-Cola, Gap and Microsoft — with his radical “strengths training” approach. His key to success is simple: Stop spending so much time trying to fix your weaknesses. Instead, focus on what makes you special and unique. “A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong,” he says. “If you want to know what your strength is, you’ve got to pay attention to how you feel. It feels like focus. It feels like concentration. You feel invigorated. Energized.”
The episode hit me hard because like the women on the show I’ve been going through a transitional period with my career.
I haven’t felt good about my job at the literary agency for many months, so I’ve decided to find a new path.
Starting later this month, I’m going back to school for the first time in 10 years, yikes! I’ll be taking journalism classes and focusing on freelance writing. Like most people, I’m a little freaked out (aka scared) about the economy, but I couldn’t see myself being happy in 5-10 years if I didn’t try to move myself forward at work.
A list to get the career ball rolling…
Even if you’re happy and satisfied at work, it might be fun to make a list (you know I love lists!) of your strengths. It might help you identify new projects at your current job, find a new hobby or figure out ways to make some extra money.
Activities that make me feel strong, focused and energized…
- Making lists
- Organizing and executing detailed projects
- Talking to people and being able to retain the information they share about their lives — the names and ages of their children, their favorite hobbies, etc. I’ve always liked chatting with people.
- Brainstorming creative/odd/weird ideas
- Learning about and trying new activities
- Visual art stuff: photography, Photoshop, collage, makeup
- Cleaning, LOL! I dunno if it counts as a strength, but when I have a clean and organized workspace all is right with the world.
- Teaching and helping others
Are you thinking about making a career change or perhaps reevaluating the course of your current job? Writing a list might be a good way to get some ideas flowing.
If you’d like to share your list of strengths, please post them in the comments. Oh — I listed 9 things because 9 is my favorite number, but you can make your list as long or as short as you want!
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,
P.S. Happy New Year!