In my twenties I came up with a purpose for my life: To be the best version of myself and, in doing so, help others do the same. Turns out that a) this isn’t as easy as it sounds, and b) at least the first half of this is universal.
To be the best version of ourselves requires a highly nuanced understanding of our particular gifts.
The problem is that none of us are born with user manuals. So how do we go about figuring out what our particular gifts are?
Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Truly understanding our gifts means:
- Separating ourselves from what others tell us we’re good at and coming to our own conclusions
- Refusing to settle for a generic assessment of our talents and mining for the specifics that lend them real strength
- Having the courage to explore the vehicles, environments and relationships that best support us to give our best
- Not making excuses or shirking our responsibilities in those areas in which we are less proficient or find less joy
- Being willing to find opportunities to learn about ourselves in those roles and life experiences we may not have chosen, while still offering the best of what we can
All this requires work. It demands both courage and self-compassion. But ‘work’ does not mean it needs to be joyless.
Dedicating ourselves to uncovering and using our gifts in the service of others is, I believe, sacred work.
There is nothing quite like the euphoria that comes when we find ourselves in settings where we know that by showing up and being the best of ourselves, we have made a real difference for someone else.
At midlife, with an awareness of the limited time left, the focus on this work and its outcomes becomes more urgent.
Have you figured out what your gifts are and if so, how did you do it?
Share your insights here.