So, yesterday was my 32nd birthday and as anti-climactic as 32 is, it still seems like a good time to evaluate my life and the direction I’m headed in. It’s a chance to get honest about who I am and who I am not, who I will be and who I won’t be. As I’m looking ahead and trying to figure out where I would like to see myself in 5 years, 10 years, you know all that goal setting stuff, I’m realizing that I find it difficult to have much clarity about my future. If I’m honest, I think it’s because I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. You see, I’ve always been a kind of utility guy, the guy who fills in lots of spots and wears lots of hats. Which, in the end, has given me a wealth of skills that I am moderately proficient at but nothing that I have ever truly focused on enough to do really well. I’m like a B to B+ as a musician, graphic designer, writer, teacher, etc… But I’m not really Aceing any one of these categories at the moment and wondering how long I should keep this up. Maybe it’s okay to be split in so many directions and always have a lot of balls in the air, I guess you keep your options open that way. Or maybe I’m selling short the impact I could have in one or two areas by constantly pouring my time and energy into everything else.
So, in an effort to narrow my focus a bit I’ve been asking myself a few questions. They seem to be helpful. Or maybe they will lead me nowhere. In that case I should provide a disclaimer… The author makes no guarantees on the usefulness or effectiveness of these self-evaluating questions and bears no responsibility or liability for poor decisions that someone may make as a direct or indirect result of asking themselves these questions.
I’ll be sharing one question a week for the next few weeks…
Question 1 – What can I do…well?
Like most of us, when I was growing up I was told, by many well-intentioned adults, that “I can be anything I want to be.” And, while it can be a powerful motivator and a wonderful sentiment, it’s also a lie. The truth is, I can’t be anything I want to be. Some careers just weren’t in the cards for me, whether it was a matter of genetics or opportunity, it is simply a fact that there are limits to what I will and won’t be able to do. For instance, I’m not going to play in the NBA, as shocking as that may seem to some of you. Also, in spite of many childhood dreams (mostly related to Star Trek), I will never be an astronaut, it turns out that you have to be good at math and science to do that. Now, these may seem obvious, and they are, but you’ve got to start narrowing down your options somewhere so you might as well start with the easy ones. At some point you have to begin accepting your limitations or you’ll always keep chasing things that you wish you could do and never find satisfaction in the things that you actually can do.
And honestly, I can’t stop there. It’s not enough to simply ask “what can I do?” I have to get more specific than that if it’s going to be helpful. I have to ask myself, “what can I do well?” We’re all designed with certain strengths and weaknesses that factor into what type of path we will walk down in life. And it seems logical that you should play to your strengths. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to grow in your areas of weakness, just that you’ll probably never be awesome in those areas anyways and you should take that into account when choosing how you should invest most of your time and energy.
So, I’m asking myself honestly, what am I good at? What have I received good feedback from others for (although, this one can be deceptive…depending on who’s offering the feedback)?
I’m not saying that it’s too late for me to start developing new skills or anything, just that, at 32, I should have some idea of the kind of things I’m good at and that should definitely play into how I focus my time and energy.
BTW – Just in case some of you are tempted to jump to conclusions… I have no intention of changing jobs, moving or anything like that. We love it here and are thrilled to be a part of this church as well as this staff as long as God has us here. This is really more about how I could best use my gifts and skills, both in and outside the church.