Retirement is a lovely time. Being with friends, starting new hobbies, traveling. It is also a time when you can focus attention on a cause important to you. So, why not apply your superpowers to the cause closest to your heart?
Yes, you have superpowers. Everyone has them. They may not be as cool as spidey senses or telekinesis, but they can be a powerful force for good.
Unlike Wonder Woman’s superpowers, my gifts are more down to Earth —planning, research, and writing. But I use them to make a difference in the world.
What are Your Superpowers?
You have gifts that come naturally. Because they come so easily to you, it is hard to imagine them as superpowers.
They are things you do well. You might be the person everyone goes to when they need help with their garden. Then attention to detail is one of your superpowers. Or perhaps you excel at decorating. Then creativity is your superpower. Do you get assigned to make the agenda for a meeting? Then planning is one of your superpowers.
How to Identify Your Superpowers
Ask someone close to you
One of the best ways to identify your superpowers is to ask a person who knows you well.
For example, ask your best friend, “What are my superpowers?” After they stop laughing, take note of the gifts they list. Some are skills that come to you easily; sometimes, you were born with these talents. You might be surprised. People often don’t realize what they do well because these skills are effortless. And because they are easy for you, it’s difficult to imagine they might be hard for other people.
My friend Irene is one of those people who make you feel good about yourself. One day, I let her know I appreciated her ability to make me feel special with just a few words and a light touch on the hand. And guess what? She had no idea she had that impact on people!
Remind Yourself of Your Gifts
Another way to identify your superpowers is to reflect on these questions posed by Mark Henson, the author of Ordinary Superpowers.
- What do people always come to you for help with?
- What do you do that makes a difference?
- When you’ve changed something (or someone) positively, what skills did you use?
Retiree Gretchen pondered these questions and remembered that she made a difference in people’s lives in her career as a social worker. Social workers perform many tasks, but Gretchen was exceptionally skilled at educating parents. Watching her parents learn new skills gave her much satisfaction. And although the many ways social workers make a difference usually remain unnoticed, her agency was well aware of her gifts. So much so that they asked her to provide training to other social workers.
In retirement, Gretchen wants to make a difference but is ready for a change from social work. Instead, because one of her grandchildren struggles with social anxiety, she wants to make a difference in the mental health movement.
By reflecting on her superpower, Gretchen knows she can help parents recognize symptoms of mental illness before they rise to the level of crisis. She becomes a facilitator for a local mental health organization in their parent classes. She loves every minute she spends helping her community.
Why You Should Use Your Gifts for a Good Cause
Once you recognize your superpowers, use them to make a difference for a good cause.
Did you know fewer than 2% of people who start volunteering to continue with it long-term? The volunteers who stay engaged are likely using their superpowers to do activism they love.
Mark Henson explained to me why engagement is so critical:
“I am a big believer that our highest level of contribution always comes from finding ways to plug in with our ordinary superpowers. I also believe we would actually need far fewer volunteers in many instances if people volunteered their superpowers to causes and organizations that need help. If I can volunteer my superpowers and I feel like it makes a difference, I am also much more likely to do it again.”
Don’t be part of the 98% that drop out of volunteering. Instead, use your superpowers, make a difference, and stay engaged.
How to Use Your Superpowers for a Good Cause
In my book, What’s On Your Sign? How to focus your passion and change the world, I introduced my unique 5-step Activism Path, an easy-to-follow roadmap to making a difference for a cause.
The steps are:
- Find the cause closest to your heart
- Identify your gifts
- Match your gifts to activism opportunities
- Make the most impact possible for your cause
- Stay motivated
Once you know the cause closest to your heart, you can match your superpowers to activism opportunities.
For example, Karyl Chastain Beal lost a child to suicide. To deal with her grief, she turned to one of her superpowers — quilting — and matched that to the good cause of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. She creates memorial quilts in which each square honors someone lost to suicide. The “Love Never Dies” quilt project has grown into other ways to raise awareness about an important cause.
Retirement is a great time to make a difference. And by matching your superpowers to a good cause, you might change the world.
If you could contribute your talents to a cause, what would it be? Please leave a comment below.