We are born with everything we need to lead fulfilling lives.
All twenty-four character strengths can be found in all human beings across the globe. Some of us are born into environments that cloud our access to that inner wisdom, but even in the worst of circumstances people defy odds and rise above their surroundings. Why? People from every culture attest to an innate sense of direction expressed in their strengths, an inner compass that guides them.
What are your deepest values? What motivates you? What is your vision, your unique legacy? How can you empower it with your strengths? The answers require introspection and the courage to shape your own future by designing your life instead of passively letting it be determined for you. The result of this work will be a powerful sense of meaning and purpose.
Understanding your motives and recognizing the sustainable vs. unsustainable sources of motivation can be a game changer. Choosing strengths motivation will provide you with authentic, lasting motivation that gets you the most effective results. Using your strengths is motivating because people enjoy using their gifts. Once you connect to your authentic strengths motivation, you are fueled to live your values and embrace your vision and purpose.
Once you have a handle on your motivation, you are primed to set goals powered by your strengths. But why are goals so elusive to so many people? Millions set New Year’s resolutions each January, yet experts tell us most resolutions don’t work — eighty percent of people give up within six months and some resolutions last only days.
A reason resolutions fail is because they don’t make us happy while trying to achieve them. (i.e., losing weight, exercising more, working harder). Research shows that true happiness is rooted in a life of meaning and purpose. Attaching a goal to something bigger than ourselves empowers the goal. A goal will have a much greater chance of success if it helps others or causes we care about, and — most importantly — if we are working toward something rather than denying ourselves by staying away from something.
When we work from the desire to make things better for others, obstacles seem to vanish and unpleasant tasks become more pleasant. Sharing our strengths in the spirit of contribution takes the “ego” out of the equation and becomes our unique way to contribute to the betterment of the whole. We focus only on what we want to give — it becomes a freeing and joyful experience.
“The well-being that using our signature strengths engenders is anchored in authenticity. But just as well-being needs to be anchored in strengths and virtues, these in turn must be anchored in something larger. Just as the good life is something beyond the pleasant life, the meaningful life is beyond the good life.” — Dr. Martin Seligman