In the throes of a new relationship it can be easy to lose yourself in the excitement of sharing your life and times with another person. After all, many of your choices revolve around making a good impression with person you’re dating. As the relationship progresses, you begin to take comfort in your identity as a couple; the “I” in conversations with friends, family and coworkers transforms magically into “we” when sharing personal stories. But eventually after the honeymoon period of your relationship has passed, you may look at yourself as an individual and your pursuits and think, “What happened to me?”
You don’t have to be in an unhappy relationship to experience a yearning to get back to yourself. With so much time and focus directed toward keeping your relationship’s spark alive and maintaining mutual goals with your partner, you may have forgotten one important key to happiness and satisfaction: You. Here are three steps to get you back in touch with your personal interests and goals that will benefit both you and your relationship.
1. Take a snapshot.
Taking an honest assessment of who you are in this very moment, devoid of the past, is the first step toward personal satisfaction and happiness. Oftentimes personal dissatisfaction arises with comparisons of who you are now versus a more positive you in the past. The same also goes for any negative comparisons. Sometimes people can become stuck and settle for less than makes them happy because it is a better situation than he or she experienced in the past. But the truth is that the past is gone. What is important is who you are right now.
There is no greater gift to yourself than being intimately acquainted with your strengths. Each and every person is blessed with talent, skills and interests that bring them and others much happiness and joy. Moreover, your greatest internal strengths never change. They may lay dormant for a period of time, but they are never gone; they are able to be called upon when needed. Remind yourself what those are. Just becoming aware of these positives about you will remind yourself of what you are most proud and how you positively impact the world. If you find it difficult to assess yourself objectively, ask your close friends and family members what they think or feel; they know you the best, and will give you the most honest answers.
2. Share your strengths with others through activities.
Once you’ve identified your strengths, ask yourself how you might best use them. Also keep in mind that by helping others, you also help find yourself. Are there any activities that you used to do that you enjoy? Are there new areas of interest that you’ve always wanted to explore or participate in? Remember that it’s okay to start small. Even small changes in activities can reap very positive rewards in your life. Here are a few examples:
- Skills-based strengths: Are you a planning whiz with an interest in the environment? Lend your skills to helping devise a recycling and green energy plan for your local neighborhood. Are you an excellent writer who benefits from helping others? Become a tutor at the high school or college level, or pen a few newspaper articles for a local town newspaper. Are you skilled with arts and crafts? Organize a party for you and your friends to paint or create useful and decorative items that can beautify your home. Have you always wanted to teach, but your life took a different course? Volunteer to read one day per month to children or consider taking classes that will lead to your being credentialed to teach.
- Interest-based strengths: Do you have an interest in art and museums? Join a club and enrich the lives of others through your contributions in thought and word. Do you enjoy playing tennis? Join a league and compete with someone who needs a doubles partner. Are you a connoisseur of food and drink? Most cities have a club for those who like to tour new and established restaurants of all types. If you live in a smaller area that doesn’t have one—start a lunch club or a biweekly supper for those who like to experience the pleasures of the palate at new and older restaurants alike.
Keep in mind that any activity can also be enjoyed with your partner, if they are willing, interested and able. But if not, take heart and ignore heed—this is your time to grow and shine with your strengths. The healthiest relationships are those in which there are shared and independent activities and interests.
3. Always set goals and commit to making them happen—no matter how small.
No matter whether your goals tend to be more concrete, such as “I will host a men’s or ladies’ night out once per month to strengthen the social relationships in my life,” or “I will volunteer once per month to help my local community,” or if your goals tend to be more intangible, such as “I will reduce stress in my life so that I am more enjoyable and emotionally available to my friends and family,” be sure to commit to setting aside specific, regularly scheduled time for the sole purpose of doing these activities. Again, there is no shame in starting small.
Today’s world is a busy world filled with deadlines, due dates and increased rates—but it’s important to make time for you to be able to make sense of it all. By exploring your strengths and interests in new activities that make the most of them, you’ll create a present-tense you that is happier and more self-realized than ever before, and in turn, you’ll bring this newfound positivity into your relationship with your partner. And, the next time you take a snapshot of your life and ask yourself, “What happened to me?” there will be a complacent smile on your face and reflections back on all of the good things that you’ve brought in to your life.
What are your greatest strengths, and how could you use them? Share your thoughts below!