I work for myself and am grateful every single day when I hear the traffic, or listen to my husband lamenting yet another frustrating traffic experience on his daily commute.
I deeply love and enjoy my work of supporting women to find meaningful work that has a purpose and fills their hearts with joy and gratitude. Still! Some days I’m not 100% aware of the inherent blessings of being able to do this inspiring work.
Every now and again, Mondays feel a bit hard to get into. This morning, I experienced this again. One of the keys to this feeling was that I didn’t go to bed early enough. I wanted to stretch my reading on Sunday night as long as possible. I know it doesn’t lead to an enthusiastic Monday morning, yet I still indulge.
Thus on this beautiful spring Monday morning, I got up feeling tired. I wondered how on earth to get inspired to start my tasks. I usually write my list of top 6-7 tasks the previous evening so I can start with them right away instead of trying to set priorities in the morning.
I just couldn’t Start!
I read a chapter in a very inspiring book (New Magic for a New Era). Reading non-fiction is one of my absolute best energizing activities. Then I went for my walk and asked nature to inspire me. After a hot shower I felt even more tired and a bit despondent so I tried a little nap. My mind was too busy with everything I ‘had to do’.
At long last I thought, “Hey!! Liesel! This is my business and my life, and I get to decide what happens in my day! I want to feel inspired and enthusiastic today, so I’m going to do some inspiring things! Perhaps it means the list doesn’t get ticked today, but what’s more important… living the life I WANT to have, or doing some stuff on a list because I thought it HAD to get done?”
I promptly made a cup of tea, and took it out into the garden with a wheat-free date muffin. Aaah, delightful. I sat on a recliner, listened to the birds building their nests, enjoyed the warmth of the tea and the texture of the muffin. My day suddenly felt a whole lot brighter and lovelier.
I did one of my trusty exercises to get myself out of a bit of a funk.
Finally, I was ready to do one thing on that list.
Doing this has helped me so many times. Putting self-care first into the queue by doing something that fills me with joy, gratitude and presence. Listening to nature, being outside, using my senses to feel present and alive. The list always gets done eventually, but apparently not before I take care of my needs of having a lovely Monday!
Talents and Strengths
Afterwards, it dawned on me. This was my Talents at work.
Previously I would’ve called it ‘procrastinating on starting the tasks’. Now that I’m getting to know my Talents intimately, I could see which were at work here.
On the Gallup StrengthsFinder (a powerful tool that assesses our biggest Talents) there’s an encompassing list of 34. We all have Talents that energize us when we use them, and other talents that drain us when we use them. The draining ones are called our ‘non-patterns’. They’re still a positive quality – but they don’t show up equally strong in everyone. That’s the beauty – we’re all different, and we get to celebrate what’s unique about us in this way of working. We’re not expected to be strong in everything.
In my case, the Talent of Activator (the Talent that asks “When can we start?!” with GREAT enthusiasm!) is number 34 on the list – the lowest of all my Talents. It saps my energy to get started. It’s a struggle. It takes a huge effort for me to get started on tasks, especially if they’re big and overwhelming.
On the other hand, I have great ‘finishing’ energy, due to the Talents of Achiever and Responsibility. Both of them are high on my list of Super Powers. I LOVE finishing tasks, once I’m on track. Starting is the issue.
How can I use this in my Favour?
I’m learning more tricks to start engaging my Strengths so I can have Magical Mondays. After all, Monday is the ‘Start’ of the week and my starting energy is pretty low. I’m finally figuring out that I need to have something inspiring and exciting to kick-start my week.
I am starting a podcast soon called ‘Mindful Career Transitions’ and I simply love the interview process. Each interview is with a guest expert in an area around career shifts: either someone who’s had their own successful career move, or someone who helps others make such a transition smoothly. The interviews fill my heart with gladness and my whole being with energy. I feel alive, inspired and almost on a high after them.
Why would that be?
The answer lies in some of my other Talents! Learner, Intellection, Input and Individualization. If those sound like Greek right now, let me clarify a bit.
Learner is my Ignition Theme. I am 100% energized every time I can learn something new. And from just about every guest, I learn new perspectives. I take something new away from each interview. Energizing! Intellection is my Relaxation Theme – it relaxes me to be able to think deeply about things, ideas, concepts… and in every interview, I get to think and create connections about the concepts my guest has introduced me too. At the same time, I feel energized AND relaxed. What a fantastic combination.
Input is a talent that loves gathering information, facts, interesting stuff and even people. It feeds me too. Individualization loves discovering the uniqueness in each person and what makes them tick.
I can’t describe the feeling of wonderfulness I feel after we hang up our Skype connection.
And finally, after this bleak start to my Monday, I now know I need to schedule my guest interviews for the start of my week. I look forward to them so much, and feel super energized after each, it will be the perfect kick-off energy… even if my Activator Talent is a bit reluctant to kick in.
How about You?
I’m wondering about you… what do you find hard? Where’s the biggest effort for you, in your daily work? Did you know that by understanding your Talents via the Gallup StrengthsFinder, you can structure your work day so that you get to use your Talents and Strengths, instead of trying to force yourself to use your non-patterns?
I have heard so many examples of this from my clients recently. They become super-aware of their Talents and make sure as far as possible that they use them. They go home energized, fulfilled and happy at the end of the day. And when there’s a bad day (as we all have) they have more compassion and kindness for themselves because they understand what was up.
Please contact me here if you’d like to find out about your own Talents and Strengths, and how to utilize them for a fulfilling career!
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.