My daughter recently turned 13.
And I know this will mean many, many changes in our house– terrifying changes that are sure to keep me up at night wondering what happened to my baby girl. But, for now, there’s one thing I know I can count on for sure – her birthday meal requests.
Her menu looks like this, every year:
Chocolate chip pancakes (one in the shape of the first letter of her name...still) with whipped cream and strawberries.
Fregola Al Forno. A can’t-put-your-finger-on-why-it’s-so-good-baked pasta dish I’ve been making for over 15 years. Hit reply and let me know if you want the recipe…
Homemade cake or cupcakes, from a different recipe each year. (This year’s cake was a Devil’s Food Layer Cake from my bible-like Tartine Bakery cookbook.)
I can always count on her choices as they have been unwavering for as long as she’s been able to request meals. It’s tradition.
You know what else I can always count on? The decisions I make, and how I move through the world because of my unique strengths and talents. But it’s not just me. You can count on your own strengths, too, as long as you know what they are in the first place.
It can be a fun game to recognize your strengths in action and to “catch” yourself doing that darned thing you always do. For me, it’s saying the word “FUN!” and always seeing the bright side of everything. I can’t help myself because one of my top strengths is Positivity.
But here’s why this whole strengths concept is really incredible.
The more aware you are of your strengths and talents, the more you can count on them (and yourself) to behave a certain way. That’s self-confidence, my friend.
Here’s what I mean. Another of my top strengths is Responsibility. For me, this means that I take pride and ownership in things I commit to. I’m trustworthy, and I’m excited to deliver the results of my hard work.
So, as an actor, I don’t ever worry that I’m not going to be prepared for an audition. My Responsibility won’t let me wing it. My Responsibility is what keeps me on task and accountable for any kind of commitment. And I love it. I don’t like to let other people down whether it be friends, family, agents or Casting Directors.
Once you know what your strengths are, and how they light you up inside, you can intentionally recruit them to create more of those “where did the time go” moments.
If you’re looking for an easy way to start identifying these for yourself, here’s what I recommend:
Commit a few minutes for an EVENING RECAP (just to be clear, that’s RECAP, not nightcap, although having a nightcap while doing the recap may not be such a bad idea!)
But before you go any further, if you’re new to me or my blog, you’re going to want to download the FREE Magnetic Actor Method Action Guide because the exercise I’m about to give you hinges on the concepts it teaches. Plus, the Action Guide also gives you an overview of what the Magnetic Actor Method is all about.
Alright, here’s what to do.
: Get it all Out
Before you go to bed, write down 5-10 events from your day. They can be personal, professional or just moments. Things like social events, exercise, a business or networking meeting, a phone call with a friend, snuggling with a pet, etc..
: Label It
Think about each event and decide whether it was energizing or draining. Be honest with yourself. For example, if you love your friend, but reeeeallly didn’t feel like calling her, but you did anyway, but couldn’t wait to hang up, make note of that! It’s important.
: Decipher It
Now think about WHY you felt energized or drained by each activity. What were you doing? Was it something that you made happen or was it something that happened to you? What emotions did it bring up? What was it about each event that you loathed or loved?
: Action Guide Application
Here’s where the Action Guide intel really helps. For each of the activities you LOVED, discern which of your core qualities (strengths) were at play. And similarly, for each of the activities you LOATHED, identify what was missing. Why was it so painful for you? You’re building awareness for what makes you tick.
: Pick It Apart
Figure out ‘the why’ behind the activities you loved, and do more of those things every day. Use more of those strengths. For example, if your “Loved It” list from the day included coffee and deep and fun conversations with a close friend, discern why.
Is it that you love connecting on a deep level? Maybe this taps into your Empathy.
Do you love trying to find solutions to her problems? This may be your Restorative.
Do you love feeling like you’re a good friend? This could be Relator
Do you like to analyze past events and strategize with her on how to find a boyfriend? This could be your Analytical.
If your “Loathed It” list was a phone call to a close friend who’s going through a really hard time, discern why.
Do you hate hearing bad news? This could be your Positivity or Harmony at play.
Do you love connecting, but hate that talking to her is going to make you sad? This may be Empathy, because you feel things so strongly as if it was happening to you.
Did you call your friend, even though your other strengths resisted because you knew you should? This may be your Responsibility.
Let me be clear. Just because you dislike doing things, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them, of course. Or that you’re a bad person. It just means that you’ll go into these less than ideal events with eyes wide open. You’ll understand yourself on a different level, and you’ll know why you feel and behave the way you do in most scenarios.
This is SO powerful. Because you’ll grow to expect your strengths. You’ll know how and why you’ll react to something. And you can start using your strengths with intention. That’s where the magic is.
When you discover the why behind the ways you think, feel and behave it actually means you’re starting to scrape away at self-doubt because you’ll exactly how you’ll show up, every single time.
As for me? It’s not going to be FUN when my teen is so embarrassed by my homemade cakes that she begs for a supermarket version. But the BRIGHTSIDE is that my holidays will be more relaxed because I won’t be spending so much time stressing over teeny tiny fondant creations.
Happy Birthday, indeed.