Identify strengths, passions and values

I recently completed a year of coaching that was extremely helpful for establishing balance in my work life and creating a more satisfying role for myself in my organization. The first thing my coach had me do was identify my strengths, passions or motivations, and values, which I have listed on a separate page. The article, “Five Steps to a Balanced Life” at, does a terrific job of summing up how to do this, so I won’t go into it here.

I found this exercise very useful for many reasons:

  • It helped me figure out what parts of my job were conflicting with my essential identify, and from there, how to re-create my role.
  • It helped me set goals for both my work life and my personal life.
  • It helped me figure out the sources of stress from work and develop strategies for avoiding or dealing with stress.

Reviewing my strengths, passions and values periodically is a wonderful exercise for reconnecting with what has the most meaning in my life and keeping me on track to achieving my goals. I use this list to help me decide whether to stay in my current job, take a new job, take on additional responsibilities at work and start personal projects.

When we feel stressed out, burned out or like we are out of balance, it is often because something in our lives is conflicting with our fundamental strengths, values and passions. We do our best work when it is aligned with our strengths, values and passions. That is when we feel like we are generating energy rather than being drained of energy, like we are doing something meaningful, like everything just fits. But unless we know what our strengths, values and passions actually are — unless we have written them down and review them frequently — then we can’t make proress toward solving the problem.

Ask yourself: What are you best at? What activities make the time pass quickly, when you feel like you are in the “flow”? What ideals are most important to you, that you need in your life to be happy?

Then ask yourself: Do your day-to-day activities match with those strengths, passions and values you’ve identified? Do the responsibilities of your job take advantage of them? Do the values of the organization you work for align with them? Does your organization profess certain values in writing but doesn’t uphold them in the ways the organization actually is run?

If you are finding that they don’t align, it may be time to re-evaluate whether this is the right job for you or the right organization to be working for.

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