“What are my skills and interests?”
You probably have asked yourself that question at least once in your life. While some people find it easy to enumerate things they can do (even with their eyes closed!), other people take years to identify their own skills and interests. Which side of the spectrum are you?
Understanding your skills, interests, and values is the first step towards meaningful decisions, both in school and in your future career. Think of it as your anchor! Or better yet, a filter that helps you sort through small and big decisions—from what college subjects to take to what career to pursue.
There’s no one way of figuring out your skills and interests, but there are easy ways you can get started on this journey to self-discovery. Are you ready?
1. Scroll through your social media accounts.
Here’s a fact: Gen Z doesn’t go online, they live online. Social media has changed the world as we know it, and that includes shaping the way people feel, think, and act. You want to know your skills and interests? Check your feed! (Like you always do first thing in the morning, tbh.)
While you can always curate what appears on your social media profile, the things that make you click and share are very telling of your likes and dislikes. What posts do you often engage with? Who do you follow on social media? These questions provide answers in itself!
- List down common topics you engage with on social media.
- Find patterns.
- Learn more about those topics. (Research and everyday conversations are your BFFs!)
- Grow your interests! Enroll in an online class, or start a hobby or passion project.
2. Ask your family and friends.
Everyone has blind spots, and that’s okay. When the internet can only do so much, you’ll be glad you have family and friends who have seen you in your worst and best days. Since your family and friends spend the most time with you, they are likely to be the most qualified people to give opinions about you.
What are the things that remind them of you? When do they see you at your best? These are helpful insights you cannot search for online. Just be prepared for diverse opinions! It can either validate or contradict what you already know about yourself. Take each opinion with a grain of salt.
P.S. Opinions from people outside your circle are valid, too! Sometimes, too much familiarity can lead your friends and family to overlook certain things.
- Ask your family and friends what they think are your skills and interests.
- Ask your acquaintances what they think are your skills and interests.
- Compare and contrast their answers.
- Use their feedback and your self-assessment to guide you when deciding for a school or planning your future career path.
3. Evaluate your schedule.
In a world where being busy equates being productive (this should not be the case), every second is precious. The question is, where does most of your time go? One of the easy ways to identify your skills and interests is to take a long, hard look at your calendar and see which activities take up most of your time.
We know this for a fact: people spend time on things they value. If you’re truly interested in something, you will carve out time of your busy schedule for it. In the same way, your skills are direct results of the activities you spend most of your time on. So going back to our question, where do you invest most of your time?
- Pull up your calendar from your notebook or planner.
- Use the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize your activities according to urgency and importance. (Your skills and interests should fall under the 2nd & 4th quadrant!)
- Brainstorm how you can develop your skills and interests. Learn more about it! (Can you turn your hobby into a business?)
4. Check your spending habits.
Next to a crazy schedule, a person’s spending habits say a lot about their skills and interests. Since money doesn’t grow on trees (unfortunately), the way you invest your money reflects the values you hold as a person. An athlete is likely to spend more money on sports equipment as bookworms spend a lot on hardbound books.
Want to know your skills and interests? Follow where your money goes! As it is said, you put your money where your mouth is.
- List down your daily expenses.
- Categorize your expenses according to needs and wants. (Your expenses under the wants category should be a good indicator of your interests!)
- Allocate enough budget to develop your skills and interests.
5. Say yes to new experiences.
While the first four practical tips talk about validating skills and interests you already have, this last action point (but definitely not the least) encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and discover new things about yourself through experiences.
How would you know you’re good (or bad) at something unless you try it, right? Be intentional in saying yes to new experiences! Are there theater open calls or varsity tryouts on campus? Go for it! These are good avenues to conquer your fear and unlock new skills and interests. If you do try something and things don’t work out, isn’t realizing that it’s not for you a win, too?
- List down skills you want to learn.
- Actively search activities that will help grow your preferred skills.
- Allot time in your calendar to try out these activities.
- Continue doing activities that allow you to learn your preferred skills.
Social media, people, schedule, money, and new experiences. These are all good starting points to identify your skills and interests, but don’t be limited by these steps! Self-discovery is a lifelong journey, so go ahead and take your time. Just don’t forget to take every opportunity to learn more about yourself every day. We’re excited for you!