“Find out what your gift is, and nurture it” – Katy Perry
Often, we find ourselves following a path that doesn’t align with what we feel our true talents and passions are, am I right? It took me years to figure out that what I should really be doing, is what I had been rejecting all along.
What? How can that be possible?
Well, today’s post is about exactly that. Read on for my thoughts on finding what you’re great at, and how to do it.
On Talent, Social Pressure & Working Hard
After switching from the English faculty, determined to be a writer, to the business faculty (Marketing), determined to get a great job that allowed me to travel, I had definitely jumped onto a different career path.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m so grateful for how everything worked out. However, I struggled through the two years of business school (transferring half my Arts credits to their four-year degree). Having excelled in reading, writing essays, and discussing literature, you can imagine that finances, market strategy and Excel documents weren’t my forte. Now I find them interesting, but that’s beside the point 😉
Success became equated with hard work, and difficulty. In fact, even as I joined the Marketing world, I discovered that the true creative process I had hoped to encounter was outsourced to advertising agencies I didn’t want to work for. The well-paying, corporate jobs were mostly strategy, a lot of spreadsheets, tedious process, and work that wasn’t exciting for me, personally.
Why does it have to be difficult? Shouldn’t a career you excel in be fulfilling, challenging, and something you love? If you’re sitting at a desk all day and being stressed, shouldn’t you be somewhere else? These were questions I didn’t ask myself until much later.
Wouldn’t it be great to quit the stress and follow your dreams?
3 Ways To Find What You’re Great At
1. Try Something New
Okay, I’ll admit that I had been teaching on the side for years, so I already had an idea that I loved it before quitting my corporate job. Nevertheless, I advocate trying something new. For me, it was grad school and discovering the field of Applied Linguistics while hanging out with peers there. It turns out that’s not what I want to do seven years later – but that’s okay. It’s become an interesting part of my journey.
What’s something you would try if you could try anything?
2. Remember Your Childhood
Following the point above, how did you answer this question when you were a child? What do you want to do when you “grow-up”? Many of you have probably seen Ken Robinson’s famous TED Talk on the subject of creativity and education. He reminds us that being different is okay, and can often simply mean an unconventional, but highly successful career.
Do you remember a particular passion that you had as a child, but left for practicality reasons?
That’s what happened to me. Every year, I seem to be going further and further back to achieving my childhood dreams. For example, I am now determined to make writing a novel part of my near future. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was four, but was quickly brushed aside as too “unrealistic”. I don’t believe that anymore, and I want it to come true. So, I’ve dedicated time this year to reading – a lot more – and to writing a little at a time.
3. Be Ready For Change
Feeling nervous about changing your career path? Did you know that as of 2018, people are now expected to change careers 12 times during their working lives? (Watch the talk below for more on that).
I saw an interesting TED Talk this morning by Laura Sheenan that, although simple in its message, was a great reminder that we should ask ourselves what we would do, if we could do anything. Sheenan talks about always identifying as “Laura the Lawyer” and becoming anxious that she wasn’t always following that path.
Then, she started to consider what she was really good at – what qualities she excelled in, in all of her past careers. (Now she’s a motivational speaker helping people find their passions).
Here’s here talk if you’d like to check it out:
3 Inspirational People Who Didn’t Give Up On Their Talent
show a list of people who created products you use daily. Although it’s quite easy to compare ourselves to young successful entrepreneurs like the people behind Facebook, Google or Amazon, we should remember two things:
First, it’s probably true that these individuals spent yearsworking on their passions before reaching success. In fact, I’m always surprised when people seem to believe in overnight success. Sure, it may seem instant. People may seem to magically have everything together at the right moment, but it’s the behind-the-scenes stories that we so rarely see. One of my favourite quotes is one from Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter, who says that “overnight success is 10 years of hard work, timing and perseverance.” We never see the dedication, hard work and discipline behind the success.
Second, it’s entirely possible to become successful late in life, to change careers and excel in your new role. Actually, to date even at 34 years old, I’ve had 4 major career change decisions. I went from Marketing in the corporate world, to running my own tutoring business, to studying linguistics and starting to follow an academic path, to teaching English most of the time (and definitely planning to ditch academia), to knowing I want to be a full-time blogger and writer one day.
J.K. Rowling & Several Other Writers
Little House on The Prairie Books
Now, since my personal goal is to one day write a novel (and it has been, for years), I’m making this one about writers ;). A friend recently asked me why I hadn’t made novel writing a priority. I didn’t have an answer. The truth is that I’ve known since I was 4 years old that I wanted to write a fictional novel one day, but I’ve never done it.
So, one of my goals this year is to simply start writing again. I’m sure the novel will take a few years, but the most important part for me is that I start to write again.
I’m sure most of you have heard that J.K. Rowling was in her forties when she published her first Harry Potter book, but did you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65, Anna Sewell was 57 and Mark Twain was 41?
Melyssa Griffin & Other Famous Bloggers
If you’re not a blogger, it’s possible you may never have heard of some of my “blogger heroes”, as I like to call them. Melyssa Griffin is one example. She worked for years on her blog before reaching her current level of success, but she is now a self-made millionaire who helps other bloggers be successful through her entrepreneurship company.
Walt Disney, Stephen Spielberg & Other Artistic Geniuses
While researching for this post, I came across several articles like this Business Insider one spelling out the failures of some of the most well-known names in Hollywood, and the people who rejected them.
There’s a whole lot to say for determination and perseverance there. Find out what you’re good at (or what you want to be good at), and keep going until you’re recognized.
Personally, I think Katy Perry is exactly right – when we seek out our own talents, and nurture them – that’s when we become successful.
If you could do anything, what would it be? Are you following your talent and your passion, and if not, do you know how to find it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Have a lovely and productive week!
P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took on a flight to Switzerland last Fall.
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