This holiday season I’m contemplating what a gift is. At this time of year, I typically think of a gift as something wrapped in bright Christmas paper with sparkly ribbon. Or maybe it’s a brown cardboard box from Amazon.
When it comes to our human “gifts,” that is, our natural talents, sometimes it’s a little trickier to identify what they are. They don’t necessarily come wrapped with sparkly ribbon. Sometimes, we even have a tendency to dismiss our gifts as unimportant or frivolous. We may not use them often or spend much time developing them because we assume “They won’t pay the bills.”
And that’s the first mistake I think we make. We assume our gifts won’t earn us money. Ummmm…how do you know? Have you tried? (And don’t tell me about Aunt Susie Q who tried once. You’re not Aunt Susie Q, are you?)
The second mistake is believing that there’s only one way to use our gifts, and that’s at work. Let’s say you never make a dime from your gifts. So what? You still need to use and share them.
Having gifts that don’t get shared makes us miserable humans. And then we spread misery instead of joy.
The truth is, we owe it to the world to use our gifts. Each of us has something to offer, and if we don’t use our gifts, well, the world misses out, and we miss out on sharing our true selves. And why is that important? Because, deep down, we all want to be known and seen for who we truly are, even if it feels scary sometimes. When we don’t use our gifts, we may feel like we are trapped in a fog, not as alert or lively.
So, let’s talk about what a gift is and how to identify yours, and then we’ll get into how to use them.
How to Identify Your Gifts
Your gifts are your innate talents, natural tendencies and abilities that transcend knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skills can be learned and may help develop your gift, but they are not the gift. Your gifts come from within, from how your unique brain works in concert with your physical self. See what comes up when answering these questions.
What gives you energy? Yes, exercising and eating well will likely give you more energy, so let’s dig deeper. When do you feel most alive? When you get to the end of your day and can say, “That was a good day.” What made it good? How did you spend your time?
Imagine you are at work. What tasks are you excited to do? Why? (And conversely, what drains your energy?)
Imagine you are on vacation and not responsible for anything or anyone else. How would you spend your time?
When do you lose track of time and forget yourself? (Besides when you are drinking.) What are the activity (ies) you are likely to be doing? Are you with people or alone?
What comes so easily and naturally to you that you don’t even think about it—it just happens? What seems totally OBVIOUS to you, but others have trouble understanding it or seeing what you’re talking about? This can apply to how you use your brain as well as how you use your body.
What was FUN for you as a kid? What did you spend your time doing? Why?
If you have trouble answering these questions, ask someone you trust what they think makes you unique and what your strengths are.
Find a Way to Share Your Gifts. Today.
If we hide our gifts in the dank basement of our brain, and only bring them into the open after we walk the dog, do the laundry, go to the grocery store, make dinner, catch up on Facebook posts—well, now you’re too tired—then, your world is likely dull. Because using our gifts fills us up and allows us to spread good cheer. And ‘tis the season for good cheer and all that.
The more you use your gifts, the more energy you’ll have and the happier you’ll be, whether you get paid for it or not. But the more you use your gifts, the better the chance is that you’ll find a way to use your gifts to get paid, if that’s your goal.
Below are some suggestions about how to find ways to use your gifts.
Who do you know who doesn’t share your gifts? Can you help them?
How could you incorporate using your gifts into your current job? Does your manager even know you have a gift that isn’t currently being used?
Make a date with yourself. Put it on the calendar. Tell others you’re going to do this, or, better yet, find an accountability partner who won’t let you back out on yourself.
Volunteer with an organization where you will get a chance to use your skill. Be selective. This is your time. You don’t have to do volunteer work that you don’t like. l
If you’re currently searching for work, how could you apply your gifts to your job search? You never know where that next job will come from. Maybe your job search is stuck because you’re trying to be like everyone else. Maybe it’s time to give it a good dose of YOU.
P.S.: Feeling stuck in your job search or in figuring out what you’re going to be when you grow up? Give me a shout at: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free session to help get you moving.