“I don’t have time for it”. A convenient excuse if ever there was one. It’s an excuse that prevents people from exercising regularly, reading books, doing shadow work — you know, things that are said to improve our lives. If you consider yourself ambitious and talented, then it’s a great time to reflect on whether you’re wasting your talent, and by extension, your life. Far too many people squander their talents and wind up on their deathbeds wishing that they either didn’t work so hard or had actually lived a life true to themselves. We tend to be a lot more careful about how we spend our money than our time, but time, unlike money, cannot be earned back once we’ve spent it. So are you wasting your talent? Time to reflect.
Competition is Blinding
Competition can blind us to what really matters. It’s easy to fall into the trap of, say, spending the next three years building your Instagram following — just because everyone else is. But that’s not a reason to do so. Your actions should bring you closer to your goals. If you find yourself spending more than half of your waking hours doing something purely for the sake of acquiring followers, purely for the money, or purely to keep up with the Joneses, is that really how you want to be spending your one and only life?
Having a Fixed Mindset and Giving Up Easily
Any worthwhile pursuit is going to be difficult and is going to force you to roll that proverbial boulder uphill for an extended period of time. It is imperative that we have a positive relationship with adversity, and see obstacles and setbacks as necessary to our progress. It is critical that we have a growth mindset, instead of a fixed one. A growth mindset is underpinned by a belief that we don’t have the ability to do something well yet… but with enough effort, we’ll get there!
It might sound cheesy, but the best thing you can do to prepare for future decisions is to focus on yourself. No, this is not an exercise in narcissism. This is investing in yourself to responsibly take inventory to fully understand who you are so as to leverage your talents (and your time) for achieving personal gratification. Here are some practical ways to help you do that.
1. Pay Attention to Your Interests
Interests provide the fuel and motivation to maintain focus in what you do. As you go about your daily life, ask yourself questions and do your best to give honest answers. What gives you energy? What do you look forward to? Where do you find the most satisfaction? Do you enjoy what you do, or are you primarily motivated by pleasing others? Are you genuinely interested in your activities?
Journaling is a good way to study yourself and note patterns of behavior. Pay attention to what brings excitement to your day!
2. Know Your Abilities and Your Personal Style
Knowing what abilities come naturally and the personal characteristics that are unique to you like how you think, feel and behave (your personal style) will help you highlight your strengths to confidently navigate critical choices. Your natural abilities are not something you just know about yourself. You have to discover them on purpose.
3. Take Time to Consider, “What if?”
We often limit our options (without realizing it) by making certain assumptions. It’s common. As an experiment, take this opportunity to give yourself some mental leeway. Take some time to imagine … what if? What if money were no object? What if there were no expectations on your shoulders?
You might be surprised by the opportunities that come to mind when you take some mental “play time.”
There’s no magic button that will guarantee happiness and success in your life and career, but you don’t have to leave things entirely to chance — or to other people’s expectations. Ultimately, it’s your life. You are responsible for your own happiness, and you get the privilege (and responsibility) of working it out. Knowing your inner strengths will empower you to build resilience in a changing world and to make good decisions. We hope these tools serve you well on your journey.