Have you ever noticed how, at the end of the year, there are lists and lists circulating? You can find a list of the 20 best films of the year, the 10 worst dressed people, the 50 most interesting books. In addition to spending some of your spare time reading through these lists, how about taking some personal time to create your own list – of your 10 most important assets? It may seem unusual for you, a member of the Sandwich Generation, to concentrate on yourself instead of on the needs of the family around you, but allow yourself to focus on and embrace your own development at this pivotal time.
Creating your asset inventory will give you a leg up on beginning 2007 from a position of power, but how do you begin? To help you, here’s a short new list for the end of 2006, one to help you focus on your assets – not the financial ones but the personal strengths you own. Use this process to discover some of your hidden passions. Reflect on your answers or discuss them with a trusted friend as you create an expanded sense of yourself.
1. Writing your thoughts in a journal will help you clarify your thoughts and feelings as you look at all aspects of your life. As you begin to make an inventory of your assets, include what you have done and the value you have created in the past – as student, family member, career associate, community volunteer, friend.
2. Identify your strengths. What are some of your natural talents? What comes so easily you often don’t notice it? How about the acquired skills you have used successfully? Think about what you consider to be your greatest personal strengths. These could encompass, among others, attributes as diverse as a love of learning, a sense of humor, loyalty, an appreciation of beauty, the ability to love and be loved.
3. Consider how others view you and your contributions. Who uses you as a role model and why? What in your life experience has led you to wisdom? Honor this insight and find ways to share what you already know well – mentor students learning to read, become a Big Sister, coach a basketball team at the youth center.
4. Engage in an active process of getting to know your true self and what you want to do. What nurtures your creative thinking? What stimulates your curiosity? What do you really value and care about? What are your dreams and passions? What do you imagine is your life purpose now?
5. How would you like to share your “assets” with others? Your expertise can be directed to giving back in a larger sense, to those in need, to the next generation, to the community, country, world. Begin to practice small acts of kindness – let the harried mother go ahead of you in the grocery line, give up the parking space to the elderly gentleman, smile at the sales clerk who looks like she’s having a bad day.
6. Just as you calculate liabilities as well as assets when determining your financial net worth, you can look at the areas which you would like to enhance in your personal life. This provides a focus for your action s toward self-improvement next year.
After you identify your strengths and the direction you want to take, develop and follow a concrete plan of action. As the writer George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Establish short-term objectives that will move you, step by step, toward the long-term goals you have set for yourself. Discover and create your personal vision, using your asset inventory.
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