It sounds ridiculous at the age of 49 to not know what you like and who you are, but I suspect I am not alone in not having a clear picture. There is often an assumption that we all have a passion and have known what it is from infancy. This is not true for me and I am guessing that I am not the only one. After all, our lives are intertwined with many others and it is easy to stop being a separate entity. We are not all prima donnas and many of us blend in and play a supportive role in the lives of our family rather than forging our own strong identity. Women, in particular, often end up taking a back seat whilst putting their children centre stage and then feel lost when they fly the nest. Now is the time for self-discovery and navel gazing!
Of course I have some idea of who I am, but I have decided to have a personal review and understand what motivates me and perhaps what my ‘brand’ is ( or could become), so here are 5 ideas for gaining clarity.
1. Personality Tests.
There are some excellent personality tests available online ( many of them free). I used to be quite sceptical of this type of thing many years ago, but after doing a Myers Briggs profile whilst working, I changed my mind. I was impressed with it’s accuracy and insight-so I decided to do it again. I found a free version on truity.com and it shows me as an ENFP ( very similar to the first time I took it many years ago except I am a little more of a ‘feeler’ rather than ‘thinker). But how is this helpful? Well it basically means that I like people, new ideas, creativity, change and am a little disorganised rather than a planner. Looking for a new or refined career or business, I should take these characteristics into account to find a good match. The site also suggests suitable careers by profile. This profile explains why I do not like working alone, in administration roles or with ‘jobs worth’ people. I love new ideas and have a bit of a butterfly mind. So the Myers Briggs profile has reminded me about my motivations, strengths and weaknesses. It has also made me think about how I interact with other people and roles that I should seek out or avoid.
2. Your Bookshelf
So what other clues are there about what we are naturally drawn to? My interests seem to change on a daily basis, but there are some common themes when I look at my bookshelves. This can be quite helpful if you feel that your mind is in a whirlwind and there is no consistency. In my case it’s entrepreneurship, positive thinking, health & nutrition and herbal remedies/aromatherapy.
3. Previous Job Roles
Can you identify common themes in your previous job roles. Thinking about specific tasks or projects. What did you enjoy? Hate? Which people and environments motivated you and which did you find draining? In my case I enjoy working in teams of innovative, creative and imaginative people who have original ideas and a great sense of humour. I am drained by rigid administrators who like to fill in forms and tick boxes – but I understand that these people have skills that I don’t.
Environment is very important to me, I would hate to work somewhere with no windows or views. I enjoy problem-solving and hate routine tasks. Oddly, I am good at creating efficient systems to deal with boring tasks ( so I don’t have to spend time on the boring tasks). It can be very enlightening looking back over your career, remembering when you flourished and when you didn’t and then really trying to understand why. Even in what seems like a disparate working life, you will be surprised at the common factors that come to light.
4. Ask your friends and family
Now I am British and this type of thing is not easy for us Brits. It feels self-obsessed to ask others what they think you are good at and ideas for avenues to pursue, but if you can do it, you may get some invaluable feedback.
5. Do something new
If all else fails ( and even if not), just start doing some new things. Actually doing them, not reading about them! if we are not careful, it is easy for our lives to become narrower the older we get. We believe we have found the best way of doing things, the best places to go, the best things to eat and we stop trying new things. Do not let this happen! You will have to fight to stop it because it is a natural process, but it makes for a gradually duller life. Try new things. Be curious.
Good luck with discovering your passion, talents and building your brand. Life is a series of adventures and I hope you enjoy yours.