Personal Life Vision Component #5: Skills

By now, you’ve hopefully spent some time assessing the last four components of the Personal Life Vision. The key to having a fulfilling career is to explore various aspects of your life and establishing your Personal Life Vision is a perfect way to do just that. Creating your Personal Life Vision and doing a deep dive into the varying aspects of what makes up your DNA doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and a deep engagement with yourself. And while this can easily test your patience, it is worth the effort when you finally have clarity in the end.  

Now let’s take a quick look at skills. Skills and interests (which we will cover in the next blog piece) help you utilize your natural abilities and give your Personal Life Vision substance and structure. Skills are function-driven tasks one must learn to do well. Your skills are what you have learned in life through school and on-the-job training. Think of time management, writing, teamwork, project management or even a foreign language. They develop through study, education, application, and practice. Unlike your natural abilities, which are set by the time you become a teenager, your skills are learned and can continue to be nurtured and developed. Skills require time, effort, and energy and they decline with disuse. 

Skills and Natural Abilities Go Hand in Hand

To the extent one takes advantage of their natural abilities in developing a skill, the skill will be acquired more quickly, easily and fully. Natural abilities and skills go hand in hand. What you are naturally gifted at doing can be greatly enhanced with skills and experience. Your skills also complement your natural abilities because what you are not naturally gifted to do can be compensated for with training. For some careers, you need both natural abilities and skills in order to be effective and successful. For example, a 19-year-old college student may have the natural abilities to be an architect, but she will still need to get the education and skills to put those abilities into practice. Knowing what you do well, and understanding whether it’s because of your natural talent, skills or combination of the two is a critical component in career planning. 

Using the Skills You Enjoy

Evaluating your skills is critical in deciding which ones you would like to continue using and develop further, and which ones you want to cast aside completely. Just the fact that you have a skill doesn’t mean you need to use it. You will enjoy your work more and do a better job if you focus on the skills that you both enjoy and can do well. You may also be using the skills that you’ve always used because it’s tied to your work, but you may not enjoy them as much. Think of so many people who stay at their regular job using skills they don’t really appreciate. Now think about how they come alive when they start using their skills to work on their hobby or do a side hustle. If you can identify your favorite skills and a career or a job that would best put those skills to use, you will have discovered a sustainable career that is right for you.

Evaluating Skills When Considering a New Career

Transferable skills are especially important if you are considering entering a new industry or a career change. Most people are not aware of their most powerful and effective skills, especially when one has been in the same field, using the same skills for a number of years. Our most significant skills don’t seem as important because they’re easy for us and we’ve always used them. In this regard, sometimes it can be helpful to get an outside opinion. Asking those who know you best can share a fresh perspective about your special skills that are also transferable to a different industry or a role. 

Here is a simple assessment you can use to help uncover your top skills (this was from the book, ”What Color is Your Parachute?”)

  1. Write a story of the time that you felt accomplished, proud, or excited about doing something. Don’t just pick a story where you accomplished something big or at your job; it can be something you did as a father, volunteer, student, etc. 
  2. Make sure you identify the following elements:
    • Your goal – what you wanted to accomplish, such as “I wanted to be able to help my parents get more organized with their bills.” (true story)
    • Your obstacles, hurdles or constraints that you faced (self-imposed or external)
    • A description of what you did, step by step, to achieve your goal
    • A description of the outcome
    • Any measurable or quantifiable outcome 
  3. Analyze your story to see what transferable skills you’ve used. Feel free to use this skills grid as a reference.
  4. Repeat the story-writing exercise six times. 
  5. Prioritize your skills so that you end up with a list of your top 5 favorite transferable skills. Feel free to see this sample prioritizing grid as a reference.

Once you recognize your top favorite transferable skills, you can then evaluate whether or not you are using them in your work. 

If you’d like to share your favorite skills with me, please leave me a comment or send me a message! Check out the next blog for one of my favorite components: Interests/Passions!

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