My journey of self-discovery has been a long one. I wouldn’t change anything because it got me to where I am today. The reason for my sharing is because I want to encourage you to embrace who you are and where you are headed, just like I have. And, you don’t have to guess, question or feel inadequate any longer. Why do you do what you do? Gaining clarity for me has provided me with validation and opened my eyes to see the path of significance right in front of me. That is why I am so excited to share.
This is me with my Grampa and my older brother. I am holding my beloved red-headed Raggedy Ann doll, looking at whoever was taking the photo. Those cheeks, along with my height suggest that I’m no more than 3 years old at the time. Through my professional training, I have learned that between the ages of birth-6 years, our personality traits show up in how and what we play. This is a clue to understanding how life experiences and tendencies combine to influence how we naturally think, act and respond, even as very young children. I always loved my dolls. Isn’t it interesting that today, my career centers on people? Relationships have always been important to me.
My Teen Years……
Then, by the time I entered my teen years, I remember struggling to figure out who I was, where I belonged in the world and what I wanted to do in the future. This is normal during adolescence. I just didn’t know how normal it was, for me and for everyone else I knew. It’s just the beginning of a process of self-discovery. I was an honor roll student who worked really hard for my grades. This may shock you to read that I didn’t like school and standardized tests made me feel not very smart at all. Behind the facade was a kid who didn’t understand why. I wanted to do well and I was determined to work hard, no matter what. I wanted to succeed.
I liked working with people and I wanted to make a difference……
I was intrigued to understand human behavior and relationships. So I pursued a degree in Psychology. All the while, I was waiting for a professor to tell me, either I had what it took to excel on my chosen career path, or worse, I didn’t and should change to major to _________. But no one ever said anything, so I continued on my journey, but without a map. I didn’t know how to make such an important decision that was going to impact the rest of my life. I felt scared and very uncertain how all of this was going to come together. I knew I needed to support myself, and at that time, I was ready to finish my degree and take any job that came my way in order to pay the bills.
The long story made short is that I found my way, in a field that I love, doing meaningful work, encouraging and equipping people. But, I admit, it took a really long time to get to this point. My career path became clearer as time passed and I gained more experiences, both positive and not so positive. Some of those lessons were tough ones. And, I always wondered, why did I leave that job?…. or that job…..?? There were things about it I really, really enjoyed. BUT….. ????
Validation, finally! …..
Fortunately, all of this guessing and wondering doesn’t have to be such a big part of your story. I wanted to work with people. But even so, I didn’t understand how my personality traits guided my decisions until I received validation through the Career Direct Assessment.
The Career Direct Assessment, developed by Crown Financial Ministries in the 1990’s provides a detailed summary of personality strengths, top vocational interests, strongest natural skills and what your work/life values are. I wish I would have had the opportunity to take this assessment when I was in school! I could have had clarity and more confidence much earlier.
I want to explain what I mean about clarity. Look at my Career Direct Assessment results….
After answering more than 500 questions, I learned why I always think, act and respond with “caution.” In other words, when I can prepare and learn everything I can, I feel confident that I am giving my best effort, in whatever I do.
I was a competitive swimmer when I was younger. I practiced, and practiced and practiced. It was in practicing that I felt confident in my ability to win the race. It had absolutely nothing to do with being competitive.
I gave myself permission to embrace being “Cautious.” It is so true. I prefer a steady, low risk environment. I am a cooperator and definitely not a competitor. I have always been a natural encourager, and I feel happiest and least stressed when when I can concentrate on one thing at a time. I want to do my very best. And I love knowing that I am not detailed and I don’t have to be.
What It Means to Be “Unstructured”
Now this really spoke to me! Finally, I understood why I didn’t care for school, even though I have always loved learning new things.
I am somewhat unstructured. What does this mean? Well, to me, it validated why I don’t read directions unless I really can’t figure it out on my own first. I don’t always measure ingredients when cooking either. I like to wing it, and sometimes, it tastes great!
My point is that, there is nothing “wrong” with improvising. I like to establish my own priorities and focus on the task at hand.
So, in school, every 50 minutes, my schedule and routine was highly structured. I had to shift my focus and stop learning one subject, and go to the next class, whether I was in the middle of something or not. I guess looking back, I probably would have thrived if I could have set my own schedule for optimal learning. Some routine is good for me, but having zero flexibility was tough. My focus is on quality, not quantity, no matter how long something may take, and I love to solve problems and improvise.
Learning that I was unstructured gave me such affirmation. My brain is always thinking of ways to do something more efficiently, or improve something, and most importantly, how we can make cookies even if we are out of eggs! There’s always a solution, isn’t there?! I can see the big picture…. and make some really great cookies, but details can feel restricting to me, especially when it comes to anything resembling busy work!
Take a look at this…. my elementary school teacher’s comments, “Stacy takes a keen interest in all of her work…. However, she works too rapidly which results in careless mistakes, particularly in Math.” And I loved my parents’ response: “The above is very nice to hear… That trait does run in the family, but we shall still work on it.” This made me laugh. Yes, I hated multiplication worksheets. So repetitive. Every single day. Yes, I needed to know my facts, and I learned them. But, the busy work was not something I valued. In school, I knew what I needed to do and I did it, to the best of my ability. But, I wish I would have known then that making careless mistakes in Math was no reflection on my abilities, but rather, an example of my personality strength of seeing the big picture as an unstructured person.
Knowing My Top 3 Personality Strengths has been life-changing!
My #3 Personality Factor, according to the Career Direct Assessment Summary is “Innovative.” I love understanding how my cautiousness (preparing), my unstructuredness (investing in the task, not the time), and my innovativeness all compliment one another. Being prepared and focused frees me to be able to see things in a new light. I can see what works and what doesn’t and see where something could be improved upon. I love finding new solutions to problems.
That is because I am creative (but unfortunately not at all artistic). I call that “thinking outside the box.” I listen intently and have the ability to see how “pieces of a puzzle fit together” without a guide or instructions.
I have to be completely honest. I struggled taking standardized tests, even when I spent hours preparing. I never understood my struggle. Being innovative however, I could always find 2 correct answers because I applied my creative reasoning to the question at hand. I couldn’t just think in black and white. In my mind, rarely was there ever ONE correct answer. Then, I was left with the dilemma of picking which of the two was the most correct answer. Thus, my scores on standardized tests were just average. And I internalized that to mean that I was just average. But in all reality, I simply was wired to think and respond differently.
In career consulting, this is a really great skill in identifying career options for people that encompass all aspects of their interests, skills, and passions. I am so thankful to have this gift and to use it to inspire others to go for their dreams and not to settle. Ever.
Confirming my top 3 Personality Factors through the Career Direct Assessment process of self-discovery has felt like a relief. No longer do I need to do or be what someone else is naturally gifted to do. By learning how I am hard-wired for success, I can look back on my journey with greater understanding. This insight validates why I felt so uneasy as a conscientious and diligent student who rushed through my Math worksheets and struggled on standardized tests.
The Career Direct Assessment has put a smile on my face, a spring in my step and eliminated any doubts.
I was made to be an encourager, a problem-solver, and a creative thinker.
No wonder I chose to pursue Psychology in college and later, a Masters in Counseling. I love people and really enjoy seeing them thrive, doing what they love to do. And, it brakes my heart to see people struggling, with doubt and little confidence, with low self-esteem, and even some with depression, on paths that aren’t certain, clear enough or fulfilling. Knowing your strongest traits and understanding the implications can lead you to have complete clarity and confidence in your future decision-making too.