Companies and organizations have sponsored employee “strength finding” assessments for over 15 years trying to foster happy, co-operative, productive teams. Why? Because the research is spot on — when you lead with your signature strength in life, happiness follows.
Why? Because when we use our strengths, we’re more engaged in our work and more cooperative with our colleagues and therefore … more productive. We do what we’re good at, we enjoy it and other people acknowledge us for the good work we’re doing. In return, when we feel good about what we’re doing it’s easier to acknowledge everyone else’s accomplishments.
But why just feel happy and fulfilled at work?
Strengths and success don’t begin and end in the workplace. When we use our core strengths in other areas of our life, you know what it means for us? Greater all around happiness, self-acceptance, more appreciation of life, better mental and physical health, positive and supportive social relationships, greater goal accomplishments and … yes, more satisfying work!
Focusing your top strengths during work hours, alone, takes all the fun out of life! So, here are ways to expand your “secret sauce” skills into eight other areas of your life:
1. At Home
Home is our sanctuary, but what makes it feel like a sanctuary differs from person-to-person. If your signature work strength is “developer,” you recognize and see potential everywhere and the status quo doesn’t feel satisfying. Thus, the visual esthetic of the house will matter a great deal to you. So, spend a rainy Saturday re-arranging the furniture until if feels just right. Or have fun each new season punctuating your living spaces with pops of color or fresh decor elements that enhance your mood.
On the contrary, if your core strength is “structure” or “project management,” home is less about how it looks and more about the fun of “shaping” it. Plan small, achievable projects to edify your need for tasks and clear accomplishments. Dedicate Spring to planting a new garden and a lazy winter weekend to organizing your bookshelf. Now that everything is in order! Doesn’t that feel good?
2. With Friends and Family
Relationships comfort us and give us new energy. If one of your core work strengths is “input or individualization,” you find yourself intrigued by the unique qualities of everyone and always want to put pieces of life together in new ways. Ask friends or family members how they stay informed on what’s important to them to discover great new publications, podcasts, or online resources. Or, just ask them what’s important to them … if you don’t already know. People love (and feel loved) when you take an interest in what interests them.
“Achiever” as a core strength, shows up as loyalty in relationships (friends and spouses, alike), but it doesn’t mean inserting yourself (or your opinions) where you’re not wanted. Instead, focus on who encourages you to shine the brightest and think about how to reciprocate by showing up for them and sticking by them.
What makes you laugh out loud? If “activator” is a core strength for you, it isn’t difficult to come up with new adventures to fill your time. Enjoy the outdoors? Investigate team sports or scuba diving! This strength draws others to you, so make the most of it!
If “appreciation” is your signature strength, take a new look at something old. Hang a bird feeder and closely examine the birds that come. Take photographs and put a montage on your screensaver.
4. Making and Managing Money
For someone who thrives as a “developer,” even the practicalities of life feel more fulfilling when done in a fresh way; as you gain satisfaction from improving systems. Make managing your money a fun game by giving it meaning. Decide what’s important to you and then set up charts, files, systems in a colorful way that you like.
Conversely, the “achiever” strength wants structure and thrives with tracking progress neatly and methodically. So, create and maintain a budget and check in with it weekly to delight this side of yourself.
5. Maintaining Your Health
Use your strength as an “activator” to maximize your motivation. Do a physically demanding activity and rejoice at your new level of accomplishment! Optimism is a side result of this strength, so exercise that as well to keep your goals on track!
“Gratitude” is a signature strength and a subset of the “developer” strength theme. If it’s one of yours, apply it to your health by appreciating where you are now. As you move forward through your daily routines our exercise routines, appreciate each step of the way.
6. Finding and Sustaining Love
Ah. Love thrives with “creativity!” Apply your strategic work strengths and think of a different way to express yourself to your loved one. That’s it — use your creativity strategically, if that’s one of your key strengths.
If the strength of “connectedness” grounds you, see the big picture within your relationship. Foster romance by expressing your genuine love by listening with deep caring.
7. Personal Growth
With “developer” or “strategy” as a strength, look at your entire life as a creative puzzle. What’s working and what isn’t? Let go of whatever isn’t and say, “yes” to something new that just might.
But then, let’s add the strength of “connectedness” to that. After conceiving the big dreams, take stock and list practice steps that steadily move you forward day by day.
Don’t just use one strength — use all of them! By distinguishing when and where to stretch ourselves, and how we can bundle them, we not only feel happier at work, but more passionate about our entire life. Give yourself permission to use your entire life as a stage, rather than trying to focus on one act.