play to your strengths
The attached article from Parade Magazine is a fabulous example of how a person can recreate their life – regardless of ones age, circumstances, or lot in life.
If you’re seeking a new direction in your life – or perhaps are in the process of recreating yourself – I’ve found that it’s easier to know which direction you should go if you’re already in motion. The world may have been created in a week, or zillions of weeks; either way, a lot of energy went into that creation and the world-in-process was not a stagnant one. As for you – you are never too old to try something new – as long as you’re willing.
Trial and error approach. I constantly look for ways to improve myself (a task that will always keep me busy) in an effort to increase my influence on the community around me. But if I wait around for some sort of change to occur, I’m going about it in the wrong way and believe me, I’ve experienced enough trial and error to write a book on the subject. The trial and error approach can work, however, if in doing so we discover what doesn’t work for us in our attempts to find what does.
Living or playing to your strengths. My life’s direction was greatly influenced by Marcus Buckingham, one of the world’s greatest authorities on employee productivity. He suggests that to make your greatest contribution, it’s best to play to your strengths most of the time. I have taken to heart Mr. Buckingham’s strong caution against veering off ones strengths path. After all, when I’m creating a new me, why would I choose to do the lame-o, same-o with all of its inherent dissatisfaction? That’s like doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. That has never worked for me, how about you? In addition to playing to my strengths, I try to play to my passions. As a person who’s not getting any younger, it makes sense that going forward I should avoid activities that drag me down and weaken me. Instead, I should run to those activities for which I am most impassioned and inspired.
Find your niche and go for it. I know what I like to do and what I’m good at so I try to consciously remain open to opportunities that directly relate to those strengths. I thoroughly enjoy working with an older population of adults but I know what part of that experience I’m able to do, and what I’m not able to do. In 2013, I retired from my work as a volunteer certified Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman – an advocate for the rights of vulnerable adults. As an Ombudsman, however, I knew my limits on “clinical atmosphere” so during my ombudsman career, any involvement with the older population excluded my participation in a nursing home or hospital environment. Throw me in the midst of adults living in assisted living or dementia residential settings, however, and I will make new friends and earn the trust of everyone with whom I come in contact. Add to that, with my enjoyment and effectiveness as a public speaker, I used that strength to provide talks to professional care staff, and to residents & their family members, on what it means to protect the rights of seniors who are not able to protect themselves.
Recognizing an open door when you see one. We are constantly bombarded by information whether through social media, radio and television programs, or even mini-publications such as Parade Magazine. As we wade through all of that input, it’s helpful to be alert to what that input might be trying to tell us. Sometimes the information brings to light an opportunity that will utilize both our skills and our passions for the benefit of others. But I’ve discovered that not every door that opens is the right door. I have to be extremely careful when considering a particular opportunity, because sometimes I’ve sensed an open door through which I’ve thought I should walk, only to find that it was the wrong door for me. If I don’t look before I leap, e.g., research the project, consider all of its requirements, measure whether or not I’m able to fully commit, I won’t be doing myself, or those connected with the project, any favors. It is worth my time to weigh all options; to write a list of Pros and Cons; to ask trusted individuals for their opinion and then make an informed decision. If this new opportunity that I’ve carefully considered allows me to play to my strengths and my passions, everyone benefits and there are few, if any, casualties along the way.
What about you?
Each of you has a talent or a skill-set that can be used long after you’ve officially “retired” from the workforce. Think about it: you spent years as an employee or business owner using that talent – why put it to rest? Finding new ways to utilize your life’s work is good for you; it brings a fresh outlook on what you’re still able to accomplish, and equally as important, might prove beneficial to others as you stretch your wings in your efforts to make the most of your talents.