Recently I took an assessment called StrengthsFinder 2.0. It’s a fantastic tool that I would recommend for anyone looking to confirm their most apparent and valuable attributes. None of the 29 themes that the test identifies are better or worse than the others. They are simply me (or you). And a very accurate portrayal of me, I might add.
The exciting part about having this information are the ideas and action steps that follow as a result. You will learn more about who you are, why it matters and how you can use that information to your advantage in both your work and personal life.
Here are five important things I learned about myself:
- I am futuristic. I find a lot of inspiration in the future and what could be. I think in terms of possibilities, which at times can make it easier to recover from setbacks and struggles.
- I am a maximizer. I place a high value on excellence – the idea that anything I do should be not just good, but great. As a result, I am more likely to capitalize on my strengths than focus on improving weaknesses.
- I hold strong to my beliefs. I have a set of unwavering core values that defines who I am and how I approach life. I tend to make binding commitments, such as those I have to family, close friends and specific causes.
- I am responsible. I take great care to ensure that if I make a promise, I see it through. Should something go wrong, I will do what it takes to make it right. Honesty and loyalty are very important to me.
- I cherish positivity. I am positive by default. My glass is always half full, and I strive to maintain my optimism, both for myself and for others. I see it as my job to encourage others to carry on when the going gets tough.
I agree with the test’s assessment of me. All of the above is true. I am always daydreaming about the future, utilizing my strengths and avoiding weaknesses. I stick to my values, so much so that it is sometimes to a fault and leads me to judge other people’s decisions unfairly (I’m working on that).
I am also the biggest optimist you’ll ever meet. This is extremely helpful in stressful situations where I am the one under duress. I am able to convince myself that everything is going to turn out OK pretty easily, which is why I think, for the most part, it usually does. Positive attitude leads to positive things in life, in my opinion.
My instinctual reaction when other people are stressed is to lay the positivity on them, as well. This doesn’t work out well when people are not inherently optimistic – they tend to see me as just some sunshine- and rainbow-loving annoyance. But with those people who are simply looking for reassurance, my positive nature works out well.
Then there’s responsibility. Oh, it’s true that honesty and loyalty are important to me. It’s true that if I make a promise to someone, whether in work or in my personal life, I will do what it takes to see that promise through. I will work late nights, skip workouts, spare every minute I can to make everyone happy.
Everyone, that is, except myself. And here is where the problem comes in.
Because the reality is that sometimes, my responsibility to others makes me irresponsible to me – and my responsibility to others makes me break my own promises. What a hypocrite I am.
True, I feel genuine happiness when I am able to help someone else work through a problem or deliver on something that improves their life, whether it’s a freelance article, social media strategy or a long, detailed email about the greatest restaurants and sights to check out on an upcoming vacation. Whatever the request is, I won’t be fully satisfied until I achieve it for them.
But what might satisfy me in the interpersonal realm can often leave me personally drained.
My tendency to over commit to others makes me under commit to improving myself.
There is one area of my life in particular where this has become a big issue lately: writing. I made a promise to myself a little more than two months ago that I would write 1,000-2,000 words per day. On this track, my manuscript would be completed by my birthday on May 9. It should have been an easy promise, one that I could accomplish even if the words I wrote turned out to be complete nonsense. At least I would have written them.
Now here I am, less than a month away from my birthday and failing myself miserably.
At the end of the day, I know that my inability to sit down and write is my problem. But shouldn’t my self-proclaimed strength be kicking in at this point, telling me to go into emergency mode? “Should something go wrong, I will do what it takes to make it right.” That’s what the StrengthsFinder book says. That’s what I believe to be true about myself when it comes to others. So why can’t I pass along the love and “at all costs” mentality to myself?
I’m afraid I don’t know the answer.
So this is where I’m at. There is no “happy ending” or resolution for me right now.
In fact, the whole reason for writing this post was to both vent my frustration (and where better to do so than in a public forum…?) and to ask for your advice.
Some of you may be as bad at keeping promises to yourself as I am. I hear you. But I know there must be others out there who have found a way to balance the inclination to give ourselves away with the necessity of being just a little bit selfish (in a good way) once in a while.
How do you ensure that you keep promises you’ve made to yourself?
I need all the help I can get.