Focus on what you are, not what you are not

Having goals and ambitions and can give us something to work towards and help us grow. But we can easily get caught up in what and who we want to be that we fail to take the time to take in all that we have going for ourselves right now.

There are skills you have to offer, challenges you have overcome, and milestones you have reached. Take the time to focus on the here and now of who you are. Not what you want to be and not who you want to be, but who you are right now.

Why you should focus on yourself

We spend a lot of time working towards a future version of ourselves. In doing so we tend to focus on the negative aspects of our current self, all the things we want to change about ourselves.

Having constant access to social media means we are bombarded with the best version of others. This can create negative thinking as we pick apart ourselves and all the ways we are not as good as someone else.

We can easily see the positive attributes someone else has, but when asked to name our own we can struggle. We are not used to being happy with who we are, we feel we should always be thinking about how we can improve.

You may see others doing something and think “I wish I was as good at that as they are”. But then you never take the time to think about what skills you have.

For some, the only time they really think about what they are good at and what skills they have is when they are applying for a job. You may have forced yourself to think positively about yourself as you prepare for your interview. Once you no longer need to convince someone else of how good you are you stop checking in with yourself until the next interview comes along.

We will shine ourselves in a positive light for others, but it is not something we are often willing to do for ourselves. We allow others to see the best of us, but don’t feel that we are worthy of seeing ourselves that way.

What you can do

Sometime when you are not trying to get ready for an interview or performance review, take the time to think about what you have going for you and what you have done.

Make a list of five skills and five positive traits you have and five accomplishments.

These should be personal to you, not a list of things to impress someone else.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and feel you can’t list things unless you are an expert or that your accomplishments aren’t impressive enough.

There is no need to rush through and make your list quickly. Take your time to think about who you are as a person and what makes you happy to be that person.

Five skills you have

Don’t limit yourself to just skills you would list on a resume or use to impress an employer. Think about skills you have that you are proud of, you have worked for, or are personal to you.

These aren’t meant to be skills you have mastered, but skills that make you happy or add to your life.

There are many times when we list our skills for someone else, but we don’t often list them for ourselves. We too often feel the need to impress others with our skills and don’t take enough time to be impressed with ourselves.

As you come up with your skills, have some fun. Think about skills that help you accomplish things but also skills that bring joy to your life.


Writing – I am good at expressing my thoughts on paper and summarizing information.

Reading body language – I’m good at noticing when others are uncomfortable or want to speak and work to include them.

Cooking – I know enough about spices and flavoring to improvise and change recipes and still have them work out.

Collaboration – Even when working with others that I may not get along with I am able to work with them towards a shared goal.

Patience – I’ve learned that things may take longer than expected and there will be bumps along the road. This allows me to not get overwhelmed or flustered when things take an unexpected turn.

Five positive traits you have

Think about who you are as a person. You may at first think of the negative attributes you have that you wish you could change. We tend to easily see positive aspects of others and be more critical of ourselves. 

If you need to clear your mind by getting the negativity out, do that. Get the initial thoughts of all the ways in which you lack out of your head. 

Once your thoughts have slowed down, think about what your positive traits are. This may be harder than thinking of your positive skills. You may feel guilty, self-centered, or unsure as you come up with your list. This is normal. But acknowledging your positive traits does not make you egotistical and it does not mean you are trying to be something you are not.


Good listener – People often come to me when they want to talk.

Optimistic – I work to see the good in situations and people.

Motivated – I can get things done even when it is not something I am interested in or want to do.

Fair – I work to gather information before making a decision or coming to a conclusion.

Open to new experiences – I am always interested in trying new things and going places I haven’t been before.

Five accomplishments

Think about work, hobbies, and life accomplishments. Don’t focus on things that would impress other people. Think about the things that make you proud or contributed to your growth.

These also don’t need to be giant events that made a big impact on your life. They can be smaller accomplishments that were a starting point or helped you on your journey.


Driving to a new place on my own

Planting a garden

Brushing my teeth every morning for a week

Buying a car

Learning how to juggle

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