Welcome to the second installment in the Best DNA series. Last month we gave you an Introduction to Best DNA—which is essentially the best of who you are that other people value. This month we’re continuing the journey to discovering your Best DNA with the Passion Brainstorm.
The Passion Brainstorm is an important part of the Best DNA process because of our negativity biases. The negativity bias is something we all share. It helps us anticipate and prepare for threats and problems. These are good things when it comes to survival, but bad things when it comes to self-confidence and a seeing a better future. The Passion Brainstorm exercise helps you to balance the negativity bias and to see yourself as the full-of-potential person that you really are.
As you go through this fun and rewarding exercise, hopefully you will gain more clarity on what really makes you happy, what your strengths are, and what steps you can take to use your passions and strengths to make this world a better place. Your goal is to discover what is best about you that you can bring to the world (Insert a dramatic pause here!) and get rewarded for it. Plus, why not be happier too?
The four questions in the Passion Brainstorm are designed to help you examine the spectrum of your life. It is important to look at both work and personal aspects to understand what is most satisfying to you. One good way to activate this part of your mind is to imagine that you are already living your ideal life. No restrictions on money, time, or anything else—just your ideal life. What does that look like? List activities you imagine you’d be doing for career, for family, and even for hobbies.
Many of the things you list during this exercise may not be directly applicable to work, and that’s OK. Some are, but what you will see is that the answers you come up with will help you have a very fulfilling life in general. Research shows that being fulfilled in your home life helps you become more creative and resilient at work as well.
My suggestion is to dedicate at least 10 minutes for this exercise in a quiet space free from distraction, ideally with your favorite beverage (to calm or stimulate you).
Here are a few important tips before you get started:
- There are no right or wrong answers here! As long as you say what is true to you, your answers are right.
- Start in brainstorm mode, allowing ideas to flow freely. Don’t edit your ideas as you go. This shuts off the flow of creativity! When your brain goes into editing mode, it limits your ability to generate ideas.
- Don’t be afraid to write the same word more than once; it may lead you down a different path of creativity.
- Prepare to walk down happy memory lanes. Enjoy yourself.
Here we go! Put your fingers on a pen or keyboard. Brainstorm answers to any of the following questions:
- Think about a few times when you felt happy, fulfilled or thrilled. What caused it? What were you doing? (Write about at least three experiences.)
- What are the things at work (or home) that you’re the happiest doing?
- What activities energize you the most?
- What would give your life more meaning if you did more in future?
Once you’ve listed at least 10 different answers, go back and underline the three activities that are most important to have in your life. What you are looking for are the ideas that spark joy, a sense of happiness, and enthusiasm. At least one of these three should be something you can do more of at work.
Sometimes when we look at these types of lists, our negativity bias kicks in yet again, and we start thinking about how we don’t do enough of these things or how hard they are. If you do start thinking in this way, just notice those thoughts and let them float away.
After you’ve underlined the top three, keep that list somewhere safe. We’re going to build on your discoveries, and we will also talk about how to apply these things in a work and home setting as we move through your Best DNA discovery.
Now start to consider the ways you can do more of what fulfills you at work and at home. For example, at work your Passion Brainstorm answers may affect the way you accomplish tasks or help other people. You may notice certain activities you really enjoy at work that energize you.
At home, you may identify things you do with your family, friends, or community groups that are meaningful to you. Things you wouldn’t give up or activities that make you feel like you’re making a difference in the world. How can you do more of these in your life?
We are what we do. Everything that we do shapes our habits and the way people see us. Doing what you love to do is extremely personal and subjective. Only you can know which activities fit you best. For example: Much of my work right now is not within my Best DNA. I’m doing a lot of development work, which is good to do, but it is higher stress and doesn’t play to my strengths. To help energize myself, I contacted one of the organizations that I care deeply about—The Department of Children, Youth and Family Services here in NH—and did a couple of Re-energizing experiences to their staff for free. This is my passion: I love talking to and interacting with crowds, and feeling like I’m making a difference live. (I’m smiling just thinking about it!) I’m lucky because this is what I do for work, but it’s also my personal passion. I want to feel like I’m making a difference in kids’ lives. One of the ways I do that is helping the people who work with kids to be even more passionate about their work.
Next month we will talk about the next step in the Best DNA process: the Strengths Brainstorm. I look forward to continuing this process with you. And of course I invite you to comment on this post and to connect with me on social media. I love chatting with people about these topics.