by sonja thorsvik

How To Not Let Your Past Define Your Future

It was toward the end of high school that I decided my past was not going to define my future.

Back then I was atrocious at spelling and at math. I almost failed all four years of those classes. At the time—and this was 20+ years ago—the only way you could get into college was through the SAT exam, which only tested on the two subjects I was horrible at: Math and English.

My parents put me in tutoring, I stayed after school, I talked to counselors, I tried studying harder… and, I was called stupid. It really was confusing for me, and no matter how hard I tried, I simply could not pass those tests.

Yet, on the other hand, I was amazing at other subjects: science, leadership (I was captain of the varsity dance team), arts, and physical education. I didn’t feel stupid, and I was tired of being told I was stupid when I knew I was not. 

One Day, I Had Enough.

So, I woke up one day and decided to only focus on my strengths, and no longer pay attention to my weaknesses. When you put a child in a room and make them face their weaknesses over and over again, and they’re still not producing results, it’s because they know it’s not their strength.

Truthfully? You’re making them more miserable.

When I did start to focus on my strengths and completely tuned out anyone who had anything to say about my math or spelling, my world opened up. It was a complete and total mindset shift at a young age, when I realized:

I was not my story. I had a different set of abilities than what was tested for, AND that was okay. I was going to have to find my own way in the world, and that’s exactly what I did.

Focusing On Your Strengths Is The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself.

I strongly believe we all carry stories like mine… We have boxes we don’t fit into even though society has us believe we’re wrong for it. We struggle with concepts and skills that others excel at easily. We beat ourselves up for not having all the answers or following the status quo.

But, being different doesn’t make you any less competent, capable, or smart. In fact, choosing to focus on your strengths—whatever those may be—is the absolute best move you can make for your career and your life.

Think about it like a professional athlete. You don’t see Lionel Messi, a professional footballer extraordinaire, trying to improve his basketball layup or his golf swing. His focus is fine-tuned on his strength in playing football/soccer. All the other sports that would be considered his “weaknesses” – He doesn’t give them the time of day. He’s hyper-focused on the thing he’s good at and knows he has the capacity to get even better at, and that’s only led to more success, prestige, and growth for him.

How To Reframe Your Future By Focusing On Your Strengths:

Focusing on your strengths might sound good to you in theory, but what if you’re not totally certain about what your strengths are? Here’s how to build a more confident future by finding and refining your strengths:

01. Make a list of things that come naturally to you CURRENTLY and that light you up.

Ask yourself these questions to really get to the heart of your strengths, and consider journaling the answers. These can also work for coming up with new business ideas:

  • What skills or subjects come naturally to you?
  • What activities excite and energize you when you do them?
  • What tasks don’t feel like work or make time pass in the blink of an eye?
  • What do people come to you about for advice, questions, and your expertise?
  • What skills or activities do you LOVE to do and learn more about?

02. Identify how your strengths align with your goals.

I never wanted to be an engineer or an English teacher, so the only motivation for improving my weaknesses was other people saying I needed to improve them. On the other hand, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I knew I wanted to travel the world. And I had the desire to be creative in my career.

Focusing on the things I was good at helped me to bring the goals I cared about to fruition. Get super clear on what your goals are—professionally and personally—and then literally link together which of your strengths can help you achieve each goal.

For example, my goal to run my own business was fueled by my strengths in leadership, flexibility, and innovation. You can get someone else to help with the things you’re not good at and meanwhile, you can sharpen those areas where you already have a leg up in order to excel and reach your goals even quicker. 

03. Sharpen the strengths that will help you achieve your goals. Outsource the rest.

Okay, so you know your ability to connect with new people or engage your followers on social media or your skill for making the BEST gluten-free brownies could help you achieve a big goal on your list. Now’s the time to tune in, nurture that strength, and forget those other details and weaknesses that might have previously held you back.

Want to start a business but stink at the admin nitty-gritty? Hire a part-time VA to handle it a few hours a week and scratch it off your list. Want to switch careers to a new industry but don’t know how to network for the change? Focus on nurturing your existing relationships and sharpening your skills that could be useful in your next industry.

By eliminating the pressure to be good at ALL the things, you’ll free up your mindset and capacity to work toward what you enjoy and what you’re already good at, which can open up more doors than you’d ever anticipate. Your past and your weaknesses don’t have to determine where you’re headed next. In fact, choosing to leave them behind is the most powerful move you could make for your future self, and you won’t regret it for a single second.




I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

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