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Wondering what you're good at? Here are 10 ways to figure it out

February 10, 2022 - 11 min read

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Why should I care about knowing what I'm good at?

5 questions to ask yourself

What you're good at versus what you're passionate about

Soft skills versus hard skills

What to do to find what you are good at

The bottom line

We all like to feel like we know what we're doing. Even if we really like to learn and be challenged, we are more comfortable when they feel competent.

Many people prefer to spend their time doing what they’re good at, whether completing certain tasks at work, taking classes, or engaging in a hobby.

But just how do you find what your strengths are? And is that always the same as what you're good at? In fact, they are not. Using your strengths energizes you, while you might be very good at a task that brings you down.

It can be difficult to see past our doubts and truly realize where we excel. And whether you believe so or not, everyone is good at something. You just need to find it.

Why should I care about knowing what I'm good at?

Knowing what you’re good at makes any related tasks more enjoyable. Finding your natural talents can keep you motivated and make it easier for you to see continuous improvement. You’ll feel more confident when you have a good sense of what you’re good at. Well-being and mental fitness begin with understanding and accepting yourself and building on your strengths.

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5 questions to ask yourself

Looking to identify your interests? 

Start by carving out time for self-reflection. You can also get loved ones, friends, and families involved, and ask for their feedback. Thinking about your responses to the questions below can be really helpful. Tip: You can also use these questions as conversation-starters with loved ones. 

  1. What empowers you?
  2. What comes to you naturally?
  3. What were you good at as a child?
  4. What compliments do you tend to ignore?
  5. What skills have helped you thrive or overcome hurdles?

What you're good at versus what you're passionate about

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Everyone wants to be good at what they're passionate about, but these two things don’t always align. Differentiating between the two concepts is important to understand yourself better. 

What you’re good at

What you're good at can be broken down into three aspects:

1. Innate talent

This refers to abilities you naturally have or skills that you pick up faster than others. For instance, painting may come naturally, or you may easily learn new sports or mathematical concepts.

2. Your knowledge base

With some subjects, you may find it easier to retain information than others do. You’ll be able to engage with simple or complex concepts alike with less conscious effort. 

3. Recognition

It’s hard to hide natural talent, and people will undoubtedly notice. Remember that it’s okay to accept compliments and praise. Human beings are social creatures, and we rely on positivity to remain healthy mentally.

What you’re passionate about

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Your passions have several different elements, too:

1. Skill level is unimportant

Unlike talent, you don’t need to be good at something to be passionate about it. Your passions may not serve as the best career path, but it’s perfectly fine to do things because it puts a smile on your face. For instance, you may enjoy singing even if you’re not pitch perfect.

2. Interest-based

Passions typically go hand-in-hand with interests. It may be harder to indulge in your passions, but if you’re having fun, it’s worth the effort. An interest can also develop into a passion with practice and immersion. 

3. Intrinsically motivated

The most noteworthy aspect of individual passions is that we do them for fulfillment, not recognition. Our passions can teach us to be thankful for this life and our freedom to choose to spend every day differently.

Soft skills versus hard skills

We can classify most skills as one of two types: hard skills or soft skills.

Hard skills

Hard skills can be measured or assessed. They refer to specific talents, like computer programming or speaking a particular language. 

You’ll see these qualifications listed on resumes or job postings. These skills are learned through schooling, field training, or work experience such as an internship.

Soft skills

Soft skills usually apply to social relationships and help individuals get along. Creativity, organization, and adaptability are just a few notable examples of soft skills.

You could be the best teacher at your school, but if you can’t treat people well, it won’t matter. Internalizing these skills is just as crucial for navigating personal and professional settings.  

The best employees integrate both types of skill. Keep in mind that well-rounded workers make for more well-rounded businesses. 

What to do to find what you are good at

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Below are ten things to consider when you're looking to learn more about yourself and your positive attributes.  

1. Think about what skills have helped you succeed

Reflect on your education and work history, including volunteer roles and internships.  What did you enjoy the most? What didn’t you enjoy? What made you feel the most accomplished? Did you get any feedback on your performance? Finding the common thread will show you what path you should be on.

2. Take notes about how you spend your free time

Your hobbies can tell you a lot about what interests you both professionally and privately. Keep a record of what you do during your downtime and why it fulfills you. Journaling can be a helpful way to have a sense of how you fill your days.  

3. Ask others for their opinions

Those who know and respect you can give you honest answers about what you’re good at. It can be hard to objectively analyze ourselves, so an outside opinion can be just what you need to view yourself differently and more fairly. 

4. Look for patterns

Expanding off point number two, typically, what you do repetitively is an excellent indicator regarding your strengths.

5. Keep an open mind

Being curious and open to feedback or suggestions that don’t necessarily align with how you see yourself can be beneficial. Sometimes, our skills aren’t on our radar until we stumble across a book or a place, or meet someone that enlightens us. You can’t know if you’re bad at something until you try it, and the unexpected is full of surprises. 

6. Take an assessment

Aptitude and personality tests are designed to help you narrow down the list of skills and discover your strengths. These quizzes can introduce you to new skills you want to develop or confirm what you already know.

7. Go explore

It’s a big, big world out there full of opportunities waiting for us to find them. Sometimes, we can only find ourselves if we get lost first. Try traveling, taking new classes, and meeting new people to expand your horizons.

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8. Hire a career coach

Counseling services or life coaches can be a good option too. Talking about yourself or brainstorming aloud are great ways to see things clearly than inside our busy brains. 

You can connect with a coach through BetterUp to help you identify your strengths and learn to use them.

9. Try lots of things

At the end of the day, if you don’t go outside your comfort zone and take chances and risks and fail, you’ll have no place to start learning, growing, and excelling. 

10. Stop overthinking it

We can get caught up in ourselves far too easily. When we’re desperate and force ourselves to concentrate or strive for perfection, we tend to make mistakes and come up short. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. Be patient.

The bottom line

Lots of people believe you can excel at one thing only, but in reality, everyone has multiple skill sets, and it’s important to take advantage of that professionally. That’s why BetterUp was created: to help people realize their full potential and feel empowered in anything they choose to do with their lives.

BetterUp focuses on human transformation, personal and professional growth, mental fitness, and human connection. If you’re willing to put in the work, we’re here to guide you through this crazy journey called life and become the best person you can be. 

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Published February 10, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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