Are you struggling to figure out your gifts?
Do you want to feel like you’re making more of an impact while doing what you love?
It’s exhausting to feel like you’re always searching, but never finding. You become depleted, discouraged and distraught. Will you ever find what you’re meant to do?
You may attribute this struggle to any number of reasons – lack of guidance or awareness, current responsibilities, conflicting expectations – but no matter the reason, there’s one important truth you need to know: it’s not your fault.
We grow up, get an education and get a job because that’s just what we’re supposed to do. We get jobs we don’t like because we need to “do something” and then get stuck with a career we never wanted.
Or maybe you followed the plan you and your family had for you perfectly, but are now discovering that it’s not giving you the meaning and fulfillment you really want. We all want to be successful. But how do you create success when you don’t even know how to define what that looks like?
Although you may feel stuck, confused, lifeless or disheartened, there is always hope. You can start to rebuild your life where you are right now. You don’t need another self-help book or life-changing epiphany – you just need to know how to overcome these three things…
You Don’t Know How to Manage your Fears
Fear is an obvious reason many people struggle to figure out what they want. But what kind of fear are we talking about here? How does this play out in our lives?
Let’s see if you can relate to any of these scenarios:
- You often look to others for approval
- You find it difficult to give yourself credit
- You generally think there’s a “right” way to do things & are always searching for the “right” way
- You like to know exactly how things are going to work out before you start something
- You feel anxious about starting something new or play out all kinds of “what ifs”
- You want a clear direction and feel paralyzed without one
- You have lots of options for what you could do, but struggle to take any real, specific steps toward one goal or passion
- You become overwhelmed with the thought of how far you are from where you want to be (and this leads you to shut down or find something to distract yourself)
- You know there are certain activities or tasks you could do to move toward your goals, but find yourself doing everything BUT those tasks (and don’t know why)
Fear has a way of acting like it’s keeping us “safe” – because that is in fact it’s goal! Our brain has two main jobs, one of which is to keep us safe from real or imagined harm.
When you think about pursuing something new or different, your brain goes to work making sure that this decision will be “safe”:
- Will it cause any stress?
- Is there a possibility of rejection or failure?
- What’s happened in the past when you tried something new?
- Is there a chance of ridicule or disappointment?
If there’s a reasonable “yes” to any of these questions, your brain will start to think of all the reasons you probably shouldn’t pursue this new path. Sticking with your current routine is predictable, so it’s the “safest” route – right?
Well, let’s break this down: how safe is it to stay where you are? Sure, it’s familiar. It’s predictable. It feels safer than doing something new.
But what’s scarier: getting to the end of your life and having an insatiable feeling of regret for the life you could’ve lived – or taking a step away from where you are right now to get where you want to be?
Here’s the other way that fear tricks us: we don’t want to pick the “wrong” path, so we end up not picking one at all. We have lots of possibilities for things we could do or have various interests, but we feel paralyzed to actually start because we can’t be 100% sure where it’s going to lead us. But all you need is a mindset shift.
So here it is: when you set a goal or start a new path, whether or not you reach that goal doesn’t really matter. That’s right – whether or not you actually achieve the goals you set isn’t as relevant as how much you grow during the process.
Which means there’s no way for you to pick the “wrong” path or to set the “wrong” goal, because regardless of the goal you set, it’s who you become that matters most. Because as you set goals and grow your self, you will become more capable of achieving whatever you want, and you’ll become clearer on what exactly that is.
So while it might seem scary and unknown to set a goal that you’re not 100% confident will get you where you want to be, here’s what you can be 100% sure about: you’ll never find out what you want if you don’t start.
You’re Not Clear on Who You Are
Imagine this: you’ve just accepted your first job and are anxious to get started. Your first day finally arrives. You know some general responsibilities of the role, but you’re not sure exactly what all will be required of you.
Nonetheless, you do your best to talk positively to yourself and walk in to the office.
Then, your boss stops you and says “Hey! We’re having a quick staff meeting in the conference room. I wanted everyone to get to know the new hires that just started with us.”
You respond with “Great!”, but internally you’re having quite a different conversation…
Why didn’t I know about this?
What am I going to say?
Whyyyy does everything have to be in a group?
Your introvert social batteries already start to dip into overwhelm, as you’ve just started with a new job and now have to attend unexpected group activities. You walk into the room, take a seat in the back, and then it begins…
“We’ve got some new hires today and I’d love to start with you guys and get to know you a little bit better. You know, just simple stuff. So tell us about yourself.”
Easy, right? Hardly…
If you’re an introvert, you know the anxiety and annoyance that comes from these situations.
Of course, we know this type of question is one of the last statements you’d define as easy. But on a serious note: do you know who you are?
Do you know what inspires and excites you? Can you say with clarity the impact you want to make on the world? Do you understand why you disdain small talk, find difficulty finding the right word in a conversation, dislike unplanned meetings and secretly hope that all your social calendar gets wiped clean?
Or have you ever been described as…
Or been told to…
- Speak up
- Participate more
- Get out of your shell
- Stop being so quiet
- Not think so much
- Lighten up
If so, you need to know something important: there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not too quiet, you don’t need to host more social events, get out there more or be something you’re not.
Quite the contrary actually: you need to become more comfortable with who you are. And you do this by understanding yourself, knowing your strengths and using these insights to design your career around who you are and what you want, not who you think you should be.
If you struggle to really understand who you are and why you do the things you do, you’ll struggle to decide what you want out of life as well. And not only that – you’ll also have difficulty accepting how capable and well-equipped you are to create a career and mission you love, which brings me to my final point…
You Haven’t Accepted Your Potential
At what point did you decide what you were capable of creating for yourself? For many of us, there’s not necessarily a definitive moment when we accepted a certain level of achievement. Instead, it’s more like an unspoken expectation or knowing of what’s “reasonable”.
You can find this hidden in statements like, “Well, I don’t have the right personality for that” or “I’m just not made to be a public speaker” or “I’m too old, young, quiet, shy, slow, nervous, insecure…” or an array of other limiting ideas.
But I think what’s happening for many of us is that we haven’t taken enough time to challenge those statements. We accept them as truth because they feel familiar and we can come up with plenty of justifiable reasons and examples to confirm our limits.
Although coming to accept the REAL truth (which is that you’re completely limitless) is a process, I’d like to provide a quick framework to help you start this journey. So, take a moment and stay C.A.L.M.
1. Consider your thought as a visitor:
You don’t have to own all the thoughts in your head. We have tens of thousands of thoughts every single day, so just because a thought of “you’re not good enough to do that” slides across your prefrontal cortex doesn’t make it true!
Accept your thoughts as visitors – and this time, you decide who stays and who goes 🙂
2. Accept the thought:
We give away our power when we react (especially with strong emotion) to a specific thought. Take back control over your mind and simply accept that you had the thought.
No fighting, fussing or trying to change it!
3. Learn what you need to:
Take a curious approach. What can I learn from this thought? What’s it trying to teach me? Maybe you’ll discover a certain area of personal development you need to explore further.
Or maybe you’ll realize that these thoughts are coming from a place of fear and that they’re not beneficial for you. Whatever your conclusion, your job isn’t to “fix” yourself or feel bad for having these thoughts in the first place. Your job is to listen, learn and love.
*This is a crucial piece: journal your “before thought” (the negative/limiting belief), the real truth you discovered during the “Learn” process & at least 2 examples that support the Truth
4. Move on (mentally & physically):
Use the power of the brain-body connection and get your body moving so you can move on mentally as well. Get up, go for a walk, get a drink of water or change your environment in some way.
This is also helping your brain put a STOP at the end of this process, allowing you to move on to healthier and more productive thoughts.
Changing your beliefs and accepting the truths about who you are and your potential is a process.
Becoming frustrated at how many negative thoughts you have or how long it takes you to address them isn’t helpful. Take it one thought, one hour and one day at a time. Patience and grace are key elements to this change.
You Can Know What You Want!
Deciding what you want is easier than you think. When you start redirecting your fears, learning who you are and accepting your potential, you realize something very important: that you didn’t need to go “out there” to find something that was always “in here”.
Your gifts are inside of you, waiting to be unwrapped and given to the world. Your job is simply to open them up, refine them and give them away.
I’d love to make this process even easier for you. I’ve created a 5-step cheat sheet to help you discover what your gifts are and the type of impact you want to make on the world. Just click the button below and it’ll be on its way to you!
What’s your biggest takeaway from this post? I’m genuinely curious and will reply to every comment below, as always.