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Have you ever heard of StrengthsFinder? It’s kind of like a personality test, but perhaps slightly-less-likely to make people who dislike personality tests feel put in a box. I had to take a test for it my freshman year at my university—answering a long series of questions within a limited amount of time.
The fascinating thing about strengths quest is that once it determines and reveals your top five strengths, it not only scripts how these said strengths are strengths but also how they can become your weaknesses. When I read through the description, I understood.
My top-five strengths were:
- As an achiever, I am constantly setting high goals and am determined to attain them no matter how far-fetched they may seem. I believe this strength enabled me to persevere through two years in an incredibly challenging work environment while dealing with health issues, to start a company shortly after learning to sew, and to pursue homesteading with little to no farming knowledge and the furthest thing from a green thumb.
- Yet, this strength can also be a weakness—I often feel like I am failing when I can not see visible achievement—as a mother, in work, at home. I get frustrated easily when my often unrealistic expectations are not met, and sometimes this strength will push me to continue past the point of exhaustion when I should have stopped much sooner.
- Although I am no longer teaching, this strength has seeped into other areas of my life. I see situations, ideas, people and can’t help but imagine all of their potential. I am passionate about walking alongside of people, encouraging them to continue to grow and change for the better, as well as developing mere ideas into elaborate, meticulously thought out plans. This strength allows me to see both people and ideas not only as they are but also for what they could become.
- But, this strength too has a dark side. It can be incredibly annoying when people treat you more like a project than loving you fully as you are in that moment. Not every idea is meant to be transformed into a large-scale plan. Some things should stay as they are instead of needing to be changed into something quote on quote greater.
- I feel very, very deeply—not only my own emotions, but also those of others around me. Although we can never fully understand what someone is going through—even if we have walked a similar road ourselves—I do believe that empathy is powerful. To stand alongside of someone and allow them to feel what they need to feel—to empathize with people who have lived very different experiences—to try to understand and love someone despite not fully knowing where they stand. Empathy drives people to compassion, to action, to love.
- Yet, empathy can lead to exhaustion. To burnout. To overwhelm from constantly feeling the weight of not only your own pain but also from trying to empathize with the pain of everyone around you—both near and far. Trying to bear a weight we are never able or meant to fix can lead to bitterness, sadness, resentment. People who are highly empathetic also tend to be moody, over-involved, and easily affected by others.
- A positive of belief is that it gives people strong convictions. They hold steadfast and true to what they value and center their lives around these beliefs. These beliefs are enduring and guide decisions, friendships, and work. They are a driving force, keeping one focused and unwavering with a clear worldview.
- Belief can also cause stubbornness and a prideful sense of I am right and you are not. When two people who have the strength of belief contradict one another, vast tensions are formed. It can be difficult for people with this value to empathize with someone who thinks differently than they do.
- I read today—okay fine, I watched a reel by Jordan Lee Dooley—that talked about how if one cell would have split incorrectly when you were being formed in your mother’s womb, then your existence would have stopped right there. The fact that you were even born is a remarkable miracle that we should not take lightly. I am passionate about people feeling included, welcome, seen, and loved because I believe that every person on this earth has immense value and purpose.
- I absolutely hate when people make others feel excluded or less than. Social hierarchies and cliques make me angry, and when I feel others are doing such, I in turn am passive-aggressively unkind to them which kind of defeats the purpose of being an includer. Includers can also be indecisive and severely overthink social dynamics.
Why Are You Telling Me All of This?
So now that I have shared way too much about me, let me explain why I decided to write this post. I actually had a completely different post planned for this week (a.k.a.) our bedroom renovation reveal, but this became problematic when I realized that we have done absolutely nothing to our room for the last few weeks. So that post will come on a different day.
I actually got the idea for this post in a moment—ok, a few hours—of frustration. This frustration bubbles up within me and seeps out every few weeks, perhaps because of the achiever within me. You see, I am a high achiever but lack discipline. I am so incredibly envious of anyone who has the strength of discipline because I try and try but can’t seem to grasp it.
Discipline does not come naturally to me. I crave structure and routine and organization. I try to come up with a plan. I implement said plan for a day or two, but then something comes up and the plan falls apart. I struggled with discipline before becoming a mom, but now this lack of discipline not only affects me but also my family.
So, I am trying to use my top strengths—achiever, developer, empathy, belief, includer—to be driving forces that motivate me to make discipline a part of who I am, although it does not come with ease.
How Does This Apply to Sustainable Living?
One of my goals with this blog is to share simple steps toward more sustainable living, but from a grace-based approach for those of you who may, like me, be recovering perfectionists. Sometimes, I get a serious case of imposter syndrome when I feel like I can’t do something perfectly. Who am I to talk to you about sustainable living when I know I need to do x, y, and z times a million to improve in this area of my life myself, although it is a passion of mine?
I think sustainable living—like many things—is a form of discipline. It won’t happen overnight and a complete overhaul of your life that quickly is both overwhelming and unrealistic. Perhaps you are wanting to pursue a more sustainable lifestyle, but are overwhelmed with where to start or perhaps you have tried to make changes but have struggled to remain disciplined and committed.
Discipline Takes Time
I spent a few hours today focusing on a few small changes to help myself become more organized and disciplined so that I can better manage caring for my family, for myself, and for all of the creative endeavors that I am dying to pursue. I am learning to give myself grace in the areas where I have yet to arrive and am taking small steps, such as creating a daily routine that is manageable and realistic for my toddler, asking friends who are disciplined what routines they recommend, and creating a plan that also allows for space to rest and regroup.
So whether you have the strength of discipline or not, I believe that it takes time and commitment and accountability and lots and lots of grace. We are imperfect people who are not even remotely capable of attaining perfection, but that isn’t a reason not to try to use the strengths that we do have to make this world a more beautiful place.
Discover Your Strengths
Have you taken StrengthsFinder? If so, I would love to know what your top five strengths are! I strongly believe that we can improve our weaknesses (hello, developer here!) and that we are not limited to five strengths, but I do think that knowing some of our God-given strengths can help us not only better understand ourselves but also those around us.
Let me know in the comments below if you have taken or choose to take StrengthsFinder and how you see these strengths at work in your life. And if discipline is in your top five, please oh please send all of the advice and tips my way!