Talent tends to refer to that inborn skill that everyone seems to be born with. It’s true that having a talent can help you in life, and that it’s good to try and identify and practice that skill. However, try and avoid placing too much importance on finding a talent. Plenty of people go through life perfectly happy, and perfectly able to learn skills, without having one specific and specialized talent.
Discovering Your Talent
Revisit your childhood. A good way to figure out where your talents lie is to go back to your childhood and think about what it was you wanted to do as a kid. This is often the time when you had plans that weren’t limited by what people tend to think of as “reality.”
Fear of failure is one of the things that tends to hold you back from achieving or finding your talent. By returning to childhood, you’re taking yourself out of that fear of failure or limitations mindset.
Consider what it was you wanted to do when you were a child, and consider the things that you loved to do as a child. This doesn’t mean that you get to raise dragons (sorry), or anything like that, but it can set you on a path towards your talent. For example, you might not be able to raise dragons but you might turn that desire towards writing stories, or leading a dragon camp at your local library.
Consider what it is you do when you lose track of time. One of the chief things you can do is focus on what you love to do so much that you have a tendency to forget everything else for awhile. Remember, not all talents are going to be super obvious. You might have to delve a bit deeper into the things you enjoy to discover what makes you tick.
For example, if what you really love is playing video games, that can absolutely be a talent. While you might not be able to play them as your job, you can still find ways to use that talent (reviewing video games on a blog, for example).
Consider questions like: What is it you fantasize about doing when you’re bored at work or school? If you were given unlimited funds, what would you do with that? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? If you didn’t have to work, how would you occupy your day? Answering these and similar questions can help you uncover what you’re good at and what inspires you.
Ask others. Sometimes, when you’re having difficulty seeing clearly, it’s good to get an outside opinion. Your friends and family members know you well and they should be able to offer you some insights into the areas where they think you’re talented.
Sometimes the areas you wish to have talent, aren’t necessarily whereothers see you as having talent. That’s okay! Just because you don’t have an inborn talent at something, doesn’t mean you can’t be good at it and just because you have a talent at something doesn’t mean that you need to pursue that in your life.
For example: your family and friends might point to your talent as lying in the area of math, especially accounting and figures, but your true passions lie in rock-climbing. Instead of thinking you should throw in the towel on rock-climbing, consider using your math abilities to help you fund your rock-climbing passion.
Try new things. Especially if you’re not sure what your talents might be, you should get out and try new things. This way you’re more likely to hit on what it is that you’re really good and that really makes you tick. Observe and enjoy the talents of other people. In your quest for you own talent you should look into the talents of other people. Think about the people that you know who are talents (maybe your father is an amazing cook, maybe your mom has an amazing ability to listen) and enjoy their talents. Go out in your community. Take classes offered at your local university; attend lectures or author meets at your local library or bookstore; try out cooking, rock-climbing, or mentoring at the local school.
Create space. While it is good to get the opinions of others, sometimes you need to give yourself time and space to figure things out for yourself. You don’t want to be completely driven by other people’s opinions. A lot of people find their talent through a moment that changes their life, that isn’t scripted, or expected. It can happen that a brilliant musician attends a certain performance, which ignites a love of music in them. So, when confronted with something that might trigger that change in you, sit quietly and absorb the experience.
Go solo. Do things by yourself, especially new things. This will give you time to figure out whether you have a talent for something without feeling like you have to perform one way or another in front of people.
Developing Your Talent
Practice. While talent can be important when it comes to doing things well, the real determinate is practice. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. If you don’t practice, you’re simply not going to be as good at something, as you could have been. In fact, in many cases, people who are naturally talented at something, so worse in the long run, because they feel like they don’t have to practice.
Set aside specific time each day that’s devoted to practicing your talent. For example, if writing is your talent, set aside a half hour before work every morning to get up and write. If your talent is basketball, get out there and practice on the court.
Focus on the areas that you’re less talented in. Even if you have a talent, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be talented at every aspect of something. For example, you might have a talent for capturing dialogue, but struggle to create a coherent plot.
Kick negativity to the curb. Talented or not, negative thinking can stop up your abilities quicker than anything else. The more you combat your negative thinking, the easier it will be to discover and develop your talent, because you won’t be constantly second guessing yourself.
Identify your thought patterns. The first step towards combating negativity is to notice when you’re doing, and what you’re doing. Perhaps you only allow the bad things into your mind (this is called filtering), or you tend to catastrophize everything. Notice how you think about yourself, about situations, and about your talent (do you for instance place undue importance on your talent?).
Check in with your thinking every day. You have to be vigilant about your own thinking before you can work towards changing it. When you catch yourself catastrophizing (“I’m a failure because I keep forgetting to turn in my library books”), stop and identify the thought as what it is.
Practice positive or neutral self-talk. The trick is to replace your negative thinking with positive or neutral thinking. So for example, when you start to think that you’re a failure because you’re having difficulty with a piano piece, turn that thought around and think “This is a challenging piece and I may have to practice harder to perform it to the standard that I would like.” With a thought like that you’re no longer casting value judgments on yourself.
Be kind to yourself and to others. People have a bad tendency of linking themselves to their talent and when that fails (and it does occasionally) they feel like they’re a failure. To keep your sanity and your happiness, be kind to yourself about your abilities.
Your talents are going to make you the best at everything at every time. By being kind to yourself and not having how well you, or your talent does, determine your well-being, you’ll be more likely to feel happier.
You can use your talents in the service of kindness. This can help you feel fulfilled, as rather than focusing on what your talent can do for you, you’re using your talent for other people. For example, If you’re a writer, you could write a story for a sick friend to help cheer them up.
Challenge yourself. Quite often talented people will hit a wall in terms of growth. Their talent has carried them as far as it can and they don’t feel the need to keep developing it and growing. Remaining always in your comfort zone is a sure way to stagnate in your area of talent.
Challenging yourself is a good way to stay humble, as well. There’s nothing wrong with being proud about your accomplishments, but bragging or believing you can do no wrong is a surefire way to irritate those around you, or to lead to you taking a fall.
Challenge yourself by going above and beyond what you’ve already done. Learned Spanish fluently? Work to translate a favorite book into Spanish, or start on a new language, something more difficult, like Arabic or Chinese.
Whenever you feel like you’ve plateaued or conquered some aspect of your talent, take it to a new level.
Do other things. Being focused on your talent (whether it’s getting a PHd in New Testament studies, or composing music) is incredibly important for improvement. However, you should make sure that you do other things, outside of your talent, so that you’re not focusing all your energies on that one thing.
Do things that don’t have anything to do with your talent, things that you’re really bad at, or simply things that you find fun. This way you won’t be limiting yourself and you’ll have a wide range of experiences to draw on. For example: if your talent lies in math, try branching out and doing art, or going to the gym and trying out yoga.
Avoid basing your self worth on your talent and avoid basing your wholelife on your talent. You can be motivated and focused without letting your talent take over your life.
Using Your Talent
Find unusual outlets for your talent. There are great ways to use your talents that are unexpected, especially in terms of jobs that might come about because of your talents. This could be a job that you found, or a job you created based on what you saw was needed.
For example, just because you’re a trained singer, doesn’t mean that you need to go into professional opera singing. You could use your musical abilities to start a singing camp for kids, or to help ease the seriously ill.
Look around to see what’s needed in terms of your talents. If you identifya missing need you could start up your own job. For example: if your talent is getting to know people, you could start up a business dedicating to connecting people with one another in your community.
Find a way to incorporate your talent into your job. You don’t necessarily have to have a job that is all about your talent. There’s no reason for you not to try and incorporate it into your job, however. In fact, using your talent at work is a great way to increase your enthusiasm for your job. For example, if you love do artwork and you work at a coffee shop, consider decorating the specials blackboard, or turning your passion for art into learning latte art.
Stop and consider how your talent might benefit your workplace. What is it you have to offer that might provide a creative or unusual solution to a problem?
Do something with your talent outside of work. If you can’t think of a way to apply your talents to your job (and there’s usually at least one way), find avenues to pursue it on your own time. There are lots of ways that you can enjoy your talent and have other people enjoy your talent, as well. Consider creating a video or blogging series about your talent. Forexample, you might use your language skills to help others learn Arabic.
Find other people who are talented in the same manner and work with them, either online or in person. This is another great way to stay humble about your skills, but it can also be fun. These people will share your passions and help speed you along to better work.
Do something for your community. Turn that talent into a way to build community and to help other people. Think about all the people who have helped you on your road to success and try to do the same for others. Tutor low-income kids in your community in math skills, if math is your specialty. Participate in or create a local theater camp if acting is your talent. Offer to teach families in your city about gardening, or about fixing things, and so on and so on. You can find a million ways to give back.
Be a mentor to someone in your field. If you’ve already gotten that professorship, for example, offer to mentor an up and coming graduate student in your field and help them identify their talents!
Never stop learning or exploring because you find it too difficult. If you let that get in the way, you will never move forward.
Remember, what seemed hard to learn in the beginning, seems easy after having been learned.
Avoid thinking that a talent has to be something specific like art or writing or dancing. It can be as vague as “talent for listening to people” or “talent for connecting with people.” These are just as good as specific talents and are a lot easier to incorporate into any job.
Try not to focus only on the monetary aspects of your talent. Yes, in this society, you will need money, but if you’re only focused on making money with your talent, then you’re not doing it because you’re passionate and you will likely start to hate it.
How to Know What to Do when You Want to Pursue Something but Have Little Talent
How to Do Nail Art
How to Become an Artist
How to Become a Musician
How to Be a Street Musician
How to Prepare for Your Ballet Recital
Sources and Citations
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