Updated: Feb 3
Utilizing your abilities and skills in a job is crucial to living in your sweet spot - that place where your strengths and passions intersect with what the world needs and will pay you to do.
But many people aren’t currently living in their sweet spot. Instead they wake up Monday morning dreading the week. In fact, in a government survey conducted in 2018, only 9% of employees are actually happy at their current job, with only 51% saying they are satisfied (not happy, but satisfied).
Perhaps you’ve never really thought about what makes you happy at your job. However, have you ever taken (or wanted to take) a job that provided the same amount of income, or even less, than your current job simply because it sounded more like you? Or more enjoyable?
God designed us to do meaningful work that uses our unique abilities and experiences, and when we aren’t doing it, we begin to experience burnout, fatigue, and an increasing sense that life is seriously out of balance.
Is this you? Although changing jobs is an option, redesigning your current job may be more feasible and effective in the long run. Read on to learn three actions you can take immediately to increase your current job satisfaction.
1. Determine your natural talents and abilities.
In order to identify them, we need to be clear on what they are. Natural talents and abilities are traits you were born with. For example, how do you make decisions - quickly and then think how to implement them, or slowly think through all of the factors and then make a decision? Are you better at doing things with your hands or thinking about possibilities with your mind? Are you a people-person, or would you rather work with numbers? Do you do certain activities better than others with little effort?
What are your natural talents and abilities? Grab a piece of paper and write down as many as possible. Try to identify at least 15. (And don’t be surprised if you can’t. Most people have a hard time with identifying their own abilities.)
“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong.” Peter Drucker
2. Identify your current skills set.
Unlike abilities and talents that come naturally to you, skills are the ability to do something because you’ve learned it (knowledge) or experienced it (practice). As we go through life, we pick up many skills along the way, some that we really enjoy using, and some that we do because we have to do them.
Thinking through an average workday, what skills do you currently use? Perhaps you’ve learned them during your college education. Maybe you’ve learned them through on-site training. Or perhaps you’ve just learned them through trial and error by simply doing them. Write down as many work-related skills as you can, especially the ones you can do well.
3. Connect the dots to develop strengths.
You weren’t born with the ability to operate a computer, you learned it. However, it’s easy to see how a natural ability, like being able to think in logical steps, can be developed into a strength by applying knowledge and practice to it. When you develop your abilities and talents by adding knowledge and experience, you experience above-average performance. Not only do you tend to enjoy it more, but you begin to experience near-perfect consistency as you do work that comes easily and well to you.
As you think through the two lists, what activities use both your natural abilities and your skills set? Do you enjoy doing them? Which of the other natural abilities would you love to build on by adding knowledge or experience? Which of the skills do not come easily and are draining you of energy and enthusiasm?
What strengths in action look like
A perfect example is my friend, Lashawn McIvor. Throughout her life, she developed her natural abilities of planning, making connections with people, and hustling to do work that she saw as meaningful. She loves the challenge of being her own boss and making things work. Because of her love for students, she became a teacher, and loved working with both the students, faculty, and parents. However, her entrepreneurial ability wasn’t being utilized, and she became exhausted and ready for a change.
When we began to work together to identify her natural abilities and skills, she was able to identify what she could do easily and well, and what gave her energy and enthusiasm. She now works as an agent for Globe Life Family Heritage doing what she does best, developing personal relationships with individuals and connecting each one to supplemental insurance plans that are tailor-made for their specific concerns, walking them through plans step by step and providing encouragement for the future. By identifying her natural abilities, exploring possibilities for utilizing them, and learning a new skill set, she turned her abilities into a strength, and discovered a job she truly loves.
When you look at your job through the lens of ability and skills, you may be able to identify what is currently making your job frustrating and tiring. And by doing more of what you’re good at doing, increasing your skill level around an ability, or doing less of what you struggle to do, you can take steps toward making your current job something that you enjoy. Or… you realize a different career path may be needed.
Are you satisfied with your current job? Take my free Career Satisfaction Survey to determine your current level of satisfaction, and whether you need to take steps to improve it before it becomes a problem.