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Career Advice

Unlocking Your Potential: Exploring What You’re Good At

9 minute read | September 5, 2023
Monica J. White

Written by:
Monica J. White

Ready to launch your career?

Life goes by pretty quickly, and it’s easy to suddenly find yourself in the middle of a career before you’ve really had time to consider what you really want. Though you might feel trapped or obligated to stay wherever you’ve ended up, it’s completely in your power to move into a field that better suits you.

The key is to find what you’re good at and what you care about. This can seem like a daunting task at first. You might even assume there’s nothing to discover if you haven’t found it already, but this isn’t the case. Everyone has interests and passions that can lead them to a more fulfilling career, and we can show you how to find them.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to get into the mindset you need to explore your potential and the steps you can take to start pinpointing your strengths. 

Is It Hard To Know What I’m Good At?

Discovering your strengths can be quite difficult. Some people are lucky and fall into something that leads to a fulfilling career, but it doesn’t happen that easily for everyone. A lot of it comes down to luck and whether you come into contact with activities that bring out your strengths and passions early in life or not. 

There are plenty of ways for you to take action, discover your strengths yourself, and make a career change. Understanding your strengths and what work you’re suited to can be complicated, but when you find something that’s right for you, the feeling is hard to miss, and that feeling is what’s most important. 

How To Figure Out What You’re Good At

Here are some simple tips to help you begin your journey.

  1. Remember: Talent Comes in Different Forms and Abilities

  2. Jot Down Your Achievements (No Matter How Big or Small)

  3. Get Advice and Feedback From Your Colleagues, Friends, or Mentors

  4. Consider the Interests and Hobbies Where You Excel

  5. Understand and Explore the Different Quotients: IQ, EQ, SQ, AQ (and More)

  6. Consider a Reputed Aptitude or Personality Assessment

  7. Identify Your Technical and Soft Skills

  8. Try a Personal SWOT Analysis

  9. Give Time to Introspection and Self-Reflection

  10. Explore New Avenues and Opportunities (Especially Stuff That Excites You)

Remember: Talent Comes in Different Forms and Abilities

Getting into the right mindset is the first thing you need to do. If you’re surrounded by a family of certain professions—doctors, for example—it can be easy to limit your views on natural talent and success to fit what you see around you. However, it’s important to remember that there is now a larger variety of professions out in the world than at any other point in history. We have so many choices that there truly is something for everyone. Here are just a few of the areas you can explore:

  • Medicine and Healthcare
  • Education and teaching
  • Engineering
  • Business and management
  • IT professions
  • Creative professions
  • Legal professions
  • Science and research
  • Social and community 
  • Media and communication
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Government and public administration

Plus, each of these broad categories splits down into an almost uncountable number of separate career paths. A creative profession, for example, can be anything from a classic oil painting to online content creation.

Jot Down Your Achievements (No Matter How Big or Small)

If you take the time to note down your achievements and think about what kinds of things actually make you feel proud of yourself, it can help you pinpoint areas of interest and passion. 

For instance, one person might note down academic achievements or times they won competitions, while another might choose events when they succeeded in helping someone. Some people will choose the times they successfully solved a problem, and others when they created something they were really happy with. These are examples where the area of interest is obvious, but if you carry out this exercise and put some thought into it, you might realize you have some unexpected qualities you hadn’t considered before. 

Get Advice and Feedback From Your Colleagues, Friends, or Mentors

The skill of being observant about yourself and your actions is usually learned over time. It’s actually much easier for us to observe and notice traits in the people around us, which is why asking friends, colleagues, or family for advice is a great strategy. 

It can feel a little awkward to hear people’s thoughts on what you’re good at, but it can also be really useful. Some people are more observant and opinionated than others, so it’s best to ask a wide range of people and consider all of the various comments you receive.  

Consider the Interests and Hobbies Where You Excel

It’s very possible to turn a hobby or interest into a career, so thinking about the things you enjoy is a totally viable place to start. You can consider creative hobbies, topics you enjoy studying or reading about, physical hobbies like sports, problems you enjoy solving, and projects you like to take on. Even hobbies as broad and common as watching TV can lead to a career if your interest goes deep enough, so there’s nothing that isn’t worth considering. 

However, hobbies can be a double-edged sword. People often find that something they enjoy doing in moderation can quickly become tiresome if they do it too much and add a sense of obligation or requirement. That’s why it’s always best to test things out and learn a bit about a career before you jump into it. 

No matter what you choose as a career, it will become “work” that requires effort and isn’t always fun, and some people prefer to keep their hobbies separate from their work for this reason. 

Understand and Explore the Different Quotients: IQ, EQ, SQ, AQ (and More)

Quotients are measurements that we use to assess specific areas of human intelligence, skills, and aptitudes. Their accuracy and importance are widely debated, and the specific scores you get on a test aren’t that important. However, if you take tests in multiple quotients, comparing the results could help you spot some trends in your strengths. Here are the main quotients:

  • IQ – Intelligence Quotient 
  • EQ – Emotional Quotient
  • SQ – Social Quotient
  • AQ – Adversity Quotient

There are also other quotients, including:

  • CQ – Cultural Intelligence Quotient
  • MQ – Moral Quotient
  • LQ – Leadership Quotient 
  • EQ – Entrepreneurial Quotient

Consider a Reputed Aptitude or Personality Assessment

If you find the quotient tests useful, you can also consider participating in an aptitude or personality trait assessment. You can find reputable assessment frameworks in a range of areas, from personality quizzes to career assessments. Here are some examples:

Identify Your Technical and Soft Skills

Technical and soft skills are very different, and it’s useful to know what you’re good at and what doesn’t come naturally to you. If you’ve already spent time working in a professional environment, it should be fairly easy to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Try grouping your skills into the following categories: 

  • I can do this well and I enjoy it 
  • I don’t enjoy this, but I can do it well if I need to
  • I enjoy this, but I’m not the best at it
  • This doesn’t come naturally to me and I don’t enjoy it

This can help you identify skills you excel in, areas you might be able to develop, and tasks you prefer not to do. 

Your technical skills will depend completely on your profession, but soft skills are the same in most industries. Here are some examples:

  • Communication skills
  • Public speaking
  • Emotional intelligence 
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Leadership skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Time management  
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Networking and relationship-building 
  • Customer service
  • Negotiation and persuasion 
  • Stress management 
  • Initiative and proactivity 

Try a Personal SWOT Analysis

SWOT—which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—is a self-assessment tool that helps you to evaluate internal strengths and weaknesses. You can conduct a personal SWOT analysis with pen and paper or on a computer by following this structure: 

  • Identify your strengths: What do you do well? What are your key strengths? 
  • Recognize your weaknesses: What areas do you need to develop? What are your weaknesses?
  • Explore opportunities: What opportunities are available to you? How can you leverage them?
  • Identify threats: What potential challenges do you face? What might stand in the way of you leveraging opportunities?
  • Analyze and prioritize: Determine which parts of your SWOT analysis are most relevant to your current situation.
  • Develop strategies: Create action plans to leverage your strengths, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate weaknesses by developing new skills. 

Give Time to Introspection and Self-Reflection

As we mentioned before, observing ourselves is often more difficult than observing others. Set aside time to focus on being introspective and self-reflective. 

Explore New Avenues and Opportunities (Especially Stuff That Excites You)

One of the most difficult things about discovering your strengths and potential is the exploration part. To have the best chance for success, you need to be willing to look in new places, rather than just stick to what you know. 

Exploration isn’t always a well-planned or thought-out process. Sometimes, it’s about simply saying yes to something new simply because it’s new. It might lead nowhere, but there’s no way to know unless you try. 

Try to avoid turning down opportunities that interest you just because it would be more practical to do something else with your time or because it’s just less effort to say no.

Getting It Right: Examples To Follow

There are examples everywhere of people who started out in one career but chose to branch out and follow their potential. Here are a couple of stories to look at.

Bridget Firtle

what am I good at, examples to follow, Bridget Firtle

Bridget Firtle was in the middle of a successful career in finance but decided to pull a one-eighty and open her own rum distillery. She had to give up a fancy loft in Manhattan and move back in with her parents when she first started out, but she doesn’t regret it.

Jonah Peretti

what am I good at, examples to follow, Jonah Peretti
Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti REUTERS/Albert Gea

Jonah Peretti was a computer science teacher who chose to capitalize on his flair for viral internet pranks and ended up the CEO of BuzzFeed. That’s one of the most exciting things about pursuing your passions—you never know where it might take you.

FAQs About Finding Out What You’re Good At

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions.

How Can I Find My Passion?

Passion is intrinsically linked to enjoyment. To find your passion, you’ve got to start with the things you enjoy. This doesn’t have to be specific hobbies—you can also start by identifying the kind of achievements that make you feel proud and the areas or issues in daily life that you care about.

What Should I Do With My Life?

Knowing what to do with your life isn’t easy. Creating financial stability for yourself is a necessity, but it can lead to a dull and unfulfilling experience and even affect your personal life. Exploring your strengths can help you find a line of work that draws on your passions and interests, allowing you to both find stability and live happily.

How Do I Find a Fulfilling Career?

It’s important to start by identifying areas that you care about, find interest in, or enjoy. The difficult part is that you may not yet have experience with the career that suits you best. It could even end up being something you didn’t know existed, which is why exploring new avenues and opportunities is essential to finding the right career.

Since you’re here…
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About Monica J. White

Monica is a journalist with a lifelong interest in technology, from PC hardware to software and programming. She first started writing over ten years ago and has made a career out of it. Now, her focus is centered around technology and explaining complex concepts to a broader audience.