What gives you energy?  How would you love to spend your free time if you had some?  Who would you spend it with, if anyone?

I could tell you all these things now.  But, they used to be very difficult questions because I am a responder.  I’m flexible.  If something needs to get done, I fill in and do it.  I adjust to match the container (need) like water changes shape to match the glass.  Since I enjoy variety, challenges, and meeting others needs I also naturally spread out as thin as I can go, like a spill spreads across the floor.

serviceThis “jack of all trades but master of none” quality is very useful.  If being versatile is useful and I enjoy it, then who cares?  What is the cost?  In an emergency no one cares if it is my greatest talent to stop the bleeding until an ambulance arrives; we are all–including me–just glad that someone is there to stop the bleeding.  What is the problem if I never find out my best use? I am definitely useful.

A definition is two fold:  First, what category a word or thing belongs in and then how it is different from other, similar things in that same category.  So, for example, what if I’m a metal bat?  I could hammer in nails, I could be a limbo stick, I could break windows, there are so many uses.  But, until I can differentiate it from all the other metal sticks, I may not realize my best use is hitting balls across the ballpark.   Or, if I am like a golf club, my best use might be even narrower–just hitting putts for instance when anything, even a metal bat could hit a golf ball.

It is easy for me to see a huge array of possibilities, things I could do, but like that putter, I wanted to know what I should do.

woman prayingIn responding to the needs of others, I have always been true to myself.  But, to stay truer, to have greater integrity, a stronger identity and greater definition, I needed to know more about myself.  I needed to stop being so flexible for everyone, especially if God created me for something more specific (unless of course that is his work for me–to be there and flexible, able to meet unpredictable needs like the Good Samaritan).

I feel sure now that it isn’t one or the other, I need to do both–develop my unique strengths (specialize) and be flexible and helpful to others.  Our body is neither all flexible nor all firm.  The trick is in knowing when and where to do each.  Certainly if we bend in the middle of a bone, or stiffen up in a joint–It’s a major problem.

If you want to intentionally strengthen your strengths, you have to know what they are.  To find out mine, I got a small spiral notebook and labeled the left page–”Loved it” and on the right page facing it “Hated it.”  Every evening or any time I noticed myself feeling especially emotional, I’d get the notebook out and record what triggered it.

Journaling of any kind is a useful way to get to know yourself.  You start to see patterns in your otherwise hectic or boring life.  If you feel lost or if you want even better definition, journaling can help.

It might seem strange to keep track of emotions to reveal a strength.  Wouldn’t it just be obvious?  Yes, right now.  But, I wanted to reveal the areas of my greatest potential and enjoyment, and these were not obvious.  I might be very good at teaching, for instance, but I’ve never taught a class.  I might be very good at piano, but I am a beginner (so it doesn’t show).  If I am going to have the strength and tenacity to specialize, I knew I would have to enjoy both the process and the results.  Keeping a love/hate notebook has helped me do that.

Self improvement DarEllSo, that is my challenge for you today:  Notice what you love and what energizes you.  Make yourself a notebook and write down what you love and what you hate. If you don’t have time to write, do it for yourself anyway.  It doesn’t have to be every day or take long.

Your reflection is there in the river of your everyday life.  Capture it on paper and you’ll see yourself in the mirror.  You are not as lost or invisible as you think.

Love what you do, but also do what you love.


DarEll S. Hoskisson


About DarEll Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com

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