It is fascinating that the expression “to swim against the stream” is a metaphor for making choices in life that go against prevailing opinions. This is considered to be a challenge that is hard to attain. How interesting that we perceive natural phenomena to be difficult.
When we think of salmon swimming upstream back to their place of birth or the thousands of miles birds travel to migrate, we see them as enormous undertakings. However, I wonder if it is even possible for healthy salmon to choose not to return to the river that is their spawning grounds? Could a healthy migratory bird think “hmmm, maybe I’ll just stay put this winter here in Canada, rather than flying all the way to Mexico”?
It is natural for the salmon to swim upstream. Yes, it takes a lot of energy, but this energy is expended in a manner that maximizes life fulfillment.
As humans our challenge is to get back in touch with the activities that come naturally to us. When we are out of touch with our natural strengths and desires, we settle for a life filled with activities that drain us. As many of us have, you may have forgotten your innate strengths, the activities you engage in for hours without feeling exhausted. Activities that energize you and that you are naturally good at even though they might be perceived as challenging by others.
Here’s how you can reconnect with the salmon within you and discover your strengths:
- Look back in your life and identify the activities that you enjoyed most as a child. Go ahead and write these activities down. They may provide important clues for the kinds of activities that may energize you today.
- Now, think about the jobs you have done in your life so far. For each job, identify the activities that energized you most and add these to your list.
- Then think about your personal life, hobbies and volunteer activities. Which activities energize you the most? Add these to your list.
- Now, look at your list of insights. What small step will you take today to increase the time you spend doing things that energize you?
The energy you gain from engaging in these activities will provide the fuel to continue on your path to discover your strengths. Soon, you will find yourself eager to swim against the stream, just like salmon.
When you get stuck on your path of exploration, don’t hesitate to ask for support from a life and career coach. Often we take our greatest gifts for granted and think that there is nothing special or worthwhile about that which comes naturally to us. I would be delighted to give you forty minutes of my undivided attention to explore how I might help you discover your strengths so they may be applied toward maximizing fulfillment within your life.
* The Coho Salmon was photographed by David Blevins
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.