Is it a mid-life crisis, or just indigestion?

Hooboy, this is all kinds of navel-gazing.

For the last several months to a year I’ve been trying to figure out just what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like I’m just drifting along, and frankly, I’m tired of it. For so many years I had goals: practice butt off, play recital. Or: rehearse band, have concert. But now I’m many years past that (sniff) and with kids, it’s damned near impossible to practice hard enough and long enough to play a recital and I don’t even know if I want to.  My goals now are along the lines of: get the kids out the door to school without screaming. Or: figure out what to make for dinner before 4:30. Or: not lose my mind doing everything involved with being a Pediatric Logistics Consultant.

It’s not doing much for me.

So I’ve been reading books and trying to figure out…me. I just don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I don’t want to teach again (please, God, don’t make me teach again). I have music degrees, I’m not technically qualified for a whole lot else. But soon the boys are going to both be in school and I will want my life/brain/self back, at least in part. I want my groove back.

Yeah, what groove? I’ve been grooveless for awhile.

So I’ve been reading, because that’s what I do when I have a question.

I just finished reading “Now Discover Your Strengths.” It had been recommended to me awhile ago, and I finally got around to it. And I learned some things. Some I knew, some were new to me. The thing about the book is, if you want to take the online test, you need to go purchase the book to get a valid code. I don’t agree with this, but since Tom has been on a business book buying binge (try saying that three times fast!), I was able to get a code.

After taking the online test, I learned my five themes (out of 34). Themes are sort of the filters by which you view and react to situations, to life. You can build your strengths on the themes. Cool, great, exactly what I wanted to know. Where are my strengths?

Note: I boiled down the whole philosophy of the book into about 2 sentences. Please go read it for greater detail. I really did enjoy it and got a lot out of the book, and recommend it to anyone. These are cut and pasted (lurve cut ‘n paste!) from the results of my online test.

Your Signature Themes

Many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggest that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families.

A review of the knowledge and skills you have acquired can provide a basic sense of your abilities, but an awareness and understanding of your natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.

Your Signature Themes report presents your five most dominant themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your responses to StrengthsFinder. Of the 34 themes measured, these are your “top five.”

Your Signature Themes are very important in maximizing the talents that lead to your successes. By focusing on your Signature Themes, separately and in combination, you can identify your talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy personal and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

Responsibility

Your Responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. Your good name depends on it. If for some reason you cannot deliver, you automatically start to look for ways to make it up to the other person. Apologies are not enough. Excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable. You will not quite be able to live with yourself until you have made restitution. This conscientiousness, this near obsession for doing things right, and your impeccable ethics, combine to create your reputation: utterly dependable. When assigning new responsibilities, people will look to you first because they know it will get done. When people come to you for help—and they soon will—you must be selective. Your willingness to volunteer may sometimes lead you to take on more than you should.

No.Shit. I am responsible and organized to a fault. Sometimes I just hate being responsible, but I can’t not. When I put something on my to-do list, I become totally responsible for it, whether it’s something that really needs to be done, or something fun that I don’t want to forget to do. And then it just hangs over my head. I definitely take on more than I should, and then go batshit crazy trying to do it all. Something to work on, I suppose.

Empathy

You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person’s perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person’s predicament—this would be sympathy, not Empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings—to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons other people are drawn to you.

I totally agree with this 100%. I have always felt this way. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s why I often can’t stand that Tom works from home. I can feel his mood through the ceiling, I feel it before he walks into the room. But it’s also a blessing because I can see the other point of view. I was actually surprised that this wasn’t the top theme.

Input

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books, and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

This one totally caught me by surprise. Before taking the test, I read about all 34 themes in the book, and this one didn’t jump out at me. But as I’ve read and reread this one, I have to agree that this is totally me. I’ve said for a long time that I collect hobbies, I definitely collect quotes, I read anything that interests me (and that is as wide and varied as you could imagine), and I seem to collect scrapbook supplies. This one and the next have been keeping my mind humming.

Intellection

You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life.

Did.Not.See.This.One.Coming. Really? Thinking? I’m a thinker? Huh? Again, after reading and rereading this description…yeah, it fits. I love my time alone (and I don’t get it terribly often). I love being in the shower because it’s quiet, I’m alone, and I get to think. I tend to come up with my best posts in the shower…it’s noticeable on the days that I can get those ideas onto the page before chaos sucks them out. I like to drive with the radio off, ’cause then I can hear myself think. This “mental hum” is why I started this blog. Sorry…you get to read my mental hum. 😉 But it’s always been there. Unfocused perhaps, but it’s there.

Developer

You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth—a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of “flow” where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments—invisible to some—are clear signs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.

When I first read this, and that it applied to me, my first thought was Oh.Crap. This describes a teacher. I know I was a good teacher…a good flute teacher. But I do not want to go back to middle school teaching. Flute teaching, perhaps, but never again in the public schools. But this also describes a mom. Yay! So there’s hope for me yet. 😉

Great, so now what do I do with this information? I’m still working on that. I’m apparently a responsible, empathetic developer of potential, who is inquisitive and likes to think. Hm. What now?

Guess I’ll have to look into that and think on it.


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6 Responses

  1. Wow. Very. Interesting. I’ll have to get this AFTER the holidays! 😉

  2. I know EXACTLY how you feel. Running children from place to place does not tend to yield that thing called “fulfillment.” Interesting book. Maybe I should look into it when I have time (which would be…..).

  3. I’m there with you. As the kids get older, I am feeling the need to get “back out there”, but I have no clue as to how. Or what. I’ve got less than ten years to figure that out before they are gone. And these first ten? Have gone by awfully freakin’ fast.

  4. The world is at your fingertips…go for it. Make sure it includes those very important top 5.

  5. Interesting insights, and lots to ponder. Maybe a good first step is just carving out 2 hours a week or so to do something you find fulfilling. Anything. A class, a project, whatever, but making that time sacrosanct. Maybe while the boys are in school?

    I’d take the test but I’m too afraid it will say “lazy hedonistic dabbler” – too concerned with herself and can’t stick to anything worth a damn.

  6. I haven’t read this post yet, but I’m highly entertained by the post title!

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