Career Design Lab

Build on your strengths

Designing your career based on your strengths enhances your success and wellbeing
An illustration of a person, pie chart and geometrical shapes

While skills are learned behaviors and techniques, strengths are dominant patterns of thinking, feeling and doing that come naturally to you. Everyone possesses strengths and focusing on them, rather than deficits, helps you develop an empowering sense of purpose and achieve your goals.

In fact, research shows that if your work relies on your skills but not your strengths, you have a higher risk of burning out. Focusing on your strengths instead helps you increase fulfillment and achieve greater and sustained wellbeing. That is why contemporary career theories, informed by positive psychology perspectives, have begun to focus on strengths to support optimal career decisions.

Be aware of your limitations and develop skills but focus most of your energy on your strengths. They are the key to your motivation, joy, and wellbeing.


a) Identify your strengths

Reflect on your life and typical behaviors. Here are some clues to your strengths:

  • What types of things do you learn quickly and easily?
  • What did you love doing as a child?
  • What activities energize you?
  • What are those things you like to do that you do not need to put on yor to-do list?
  • What qualities do others admire in you?

b) Take an assessment

Sometimes it is easier to get going by doing a test. There are many tests available free or for a fee. The following free test is a positive psychology-based assessment of your top five signature strengths:

VIA Character Strengths

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