Working out your strengths

Figuring out what your strengths are can be a challenge. Read this fact sheet to find out about why it’s handy to know what you’re good at, the different kinds of strengths that exist and how to pinpoint what yours are.

Working out your strengths means:

  • Understanding your personality better
  • Working out your strong points
  • Appreciating the best parts of you
Girl on the beach drinking a coffee

Why figure out your strengths?

Being aware of your strengths has a big impact on your mental health and wellbeing. One of the benefits of figuring out your strengths is that it’s a great way to boost your mood and self-esteem. Check out some other steps to improve self-esteem.

It’s also really handy when it comes to things like job interviews or other really awkward interviews where you have to talk about how great you are.

Some people are aware of what the best parts of their personality are, as well as the worst parts. For others, it can be hard to pin point exactly what their good qualities are. Generally speaking, it’s more common for people to be aware of their weaknesses and flaws than their strengths.

Whatever your situation, maximising how you use your strengths will help you make the most of the best aspects of your character, which builds your self-esteem and happiness, so it’s worth taking the time to figure out where your strengths lie.

24 strengths

First thing’s first: you need to know the different sorts of personality strengths people can have. Keep in mind that your strengths aren’t about how much knowledge you have, or the different skills you possess. It’s all about the different parts of your personality (like your focus, dedication or bravery) that have helped you to learn that knowledge, or those skills, in the first place.

Scientists have identified 24 different personality strengths, which everyone has to some degree - you might have lots of one strength and not so much of another. Check them out and have a think about which ones might apply to you:

Table of 24 strengths

Tips for figuring out your strengths

After you’ve looked at the list above, and you've read about the 24 different strengths, you need figure out which of them most reflect you. These are known as your ‘top’ strengths, and they’re the ones you will want to be most aware of. 

To work out what your dominant (or top) strengths are, use the following tips: 

  • Ask other people. People in your life are likely to notice stuff about your personality which you haven’t. Chat to a family member, friend, teacher, boss, or even a counsellor about what they see as the best parts of your personality.

  • Have a think about some of the compliments you’ve received in the past. Do people ever compliment a particular part of your personality? It’s pretty likely to be a strength of yours.

  • Figure out what you are most proud of.  If you’re proud of something you have done/achieved (for example, winning your grand final footy match), then think about what parts of your personality you used to achieve it. Did it require focus, creativity, bravery etc?

  • Ask yourself, when do you feel most like yourself? The things about your personality that make you most happy are likely to be your top strengths. For example, you might be happiest when you’re making other people laugh. This could indicate that you’re kind and compassionate (and hilarious).

  • Take a strengths quiz. Check out the VIA Survey of Character Strengths on psychologist Martin Seligman's Authentic Happiness website for more clues on where your strengths may lie. The quiz is free – win. 

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 13 August, 2015
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