Achieving success in life can be a real challenge. There is no straight path to success, and everyone experiences varying degrees of both achievement and failure during their lifetime. However, you can minimize the risk of failure and increase the likelihood of success by identifying and leveraging your personal strengths.
People who know their strengths and understand how they are best utilized tend to experience more success in their relationships and career-wise, as well as experience a greater sense of personal fulfillment. To effectively use your strengths, you first have to have a clear understanding of what they are. Some strengths are more easily identifiable than others, while some may go unnoticed because they feel or appear ordinary.
In this strengths exploration exercise you will identify your strengths and the ways in which you are currently using them. You will also explore undiscovered strengths and how to use them to your advantage.
How to Identify Your Personal Strengths
There are a number of different ways you can approach this; below are a few suggestions on where to start:
- Know yourself: Practice self-awareness and evaluate your objectives and skillsets
- Ask a friend: This approach removes personal bias and allows you to better examine your own self-assessment
- Find clues in your attempts and failures: By analyzing our unsuccessful attempts and failures, we are better equipped to identify future barriers or setbacks and make plans to utilize strengths to avoid them
- Analyze your successes: Which strength did you utilize most when you last achieved success? Each individual success is a teaching tool that you can use to build continued successes
- Maintain your identity: Knowing and staying true to yourself allows you to leverage your strengths
- Use a self-assessment: Assessments help to evaluate biases and consider strengths that we may be overlooking. The next section goes into an exercise we’d recommend working with!
How to use a self-assessment of your personal strengths
In this CBT-based exercise, you’ll first identify your personal strengths and then examine how each affects different domains of your life.
Identify and categorize your personal strengths
Circle your personal strengths in the chart below. Feel free to add your own at the bottom!
Think about where each of these strengths fits into one or more of the following categories:
- Relationships (romantic, friendships, family)
- Career (past or present work, education, professional)
- Personal fulfillment (hobbies, interests, and pleasurable activities)
Relationships: romantic relationships, friendships, and family
How do your strengths play into your relationships?
- List the strengths you possess that help you achieve success in relationships, such as “loving,” “forgiving,” “patient,” or “empathic”.
- Describe a specific time your strengths helped you achieve success in a relationship. For example, maybe your empathy allowed you to support a friend while they were grieving, which strengthened your bond.
- Describe two new ways in which you plan to use these relationship strengths in the future.
Career: past or present work, education, and professional
How do your strengths impact your career?
- List the strengths you possess that help you achieve success in your career, such as “intelligent,” “ambitious,” “persistent,” or “disciplined”.
- Describe a specific time your strengths helped you achieve success in your career. For example, maybe your persistence allowed you to apply for a higher position until you got it despite being rejected in the past.
- Describe two new ways you plan to use these career strengths in the future.
Personal fulfillment: hobbies, interests, and pleasurable activities
How do your strengths help fulfill you?
- List the strengths you possess that help you achieve personal fulfillment, such as “creative, “adventurous,” “athletic,” or “artistic”.
- Describe a specific time your strengths helped you achieve personal fulfillment. For example, maybe your artistic ability allowed you to create personalized holiday cards for friends and family, which provided a much needed distraction and spread holiday cheer to your loved ones.
- Describe two new ways you plan to use these personal fulfillment strengths in the future.
What can Strengths Exploration help with?
Practicing a Strengths Exploration can help with a number of different issues, including the following:
- Academic Challenges
- Adjustment Difficulties
- Identity Development
- Life Transitions
- Stress Management
- Work Stress
Consider seeking support from a therapist
Identifying strengths can be a daunting task. Do you ever think to yourself “that’s not a strength, everyone can do that,” “I’m just not good at anything” or “I feel like I have all these strengths, but I keep failing at everything I try”? When we encounter failure, it isn’t easy to reflect on our strengths. A therapist who specializes in the following therapy types can help you to identify and utilize your strengths in order to achieve success:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This approach to psychotherapy brings awareness to how unhelpful thought patterns or beliefs impact your emotions and behavior.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: MBSR is a group therapy that uses mindfulness practices to increase awareness and compassion.
- Strengths-Based Therapy: This approach to psychotherapy places emphasis on what is going well in our lives.
- Solution-Focused Therapy: With this approach to psychotherapy, the therapist and client collaborate to develop solutions to problems using the client’s personal strengths and skills.
- Positive Psychology: This approach to psychotherapy aims to improve emotional well-being and functioning by building on positive emotions, relationships, and strengths.