Your strengths and skills

Identifying why you're studying, what your skills are and where your strengths lie is a good place to start when you need some direction in life.

Asking the tough questions

Sometimes it can be difficult to ask yourself what you’re good at, and what positive traits you possess.

Understanding your strengths and skills helps you develop life goals that align with things you are (or would be) good at. It also helps you identify some areas you would like to work on.

Understanding why you’re studying

Understanding your reasons for studying can help you stay motivated, and make you feel more determined to achieve. It can also help you assess and evaluate your next steps.

People go to uni for internal and external reasons. Consider, why are you studying?

Internal reasons:

  • self improvement
  • proving you can do it
  • you want to contribute and give back to society
  • for the challenge
  • it's a major goal or dream
  • you'll gain respect
  • for self-satisfaction and fulfilment
  • to keep busy
  • you like learning
  • you're interest in subjects

External reasons:

  • to prove to others you can
  • the career and money
  • family expectations or reasons
  • cultural reasons
  • friends are going
  • to meet people
  • social expectations
  • persuasion from teachers or other influences
  • to break the cycle—be the first in family to attend university
  • the great student services available
  • the location

Content sourced from Kennet, D. J., Reed, M. J. & Lam, D. The importance of directly asking students their reasons for attending higher education, Issues in Educational Research, 21(1).

Discover what your strengths are

Write down five positive traits other people have noticed or said about you.

Your strengths might be: curious, approachable, creative, trustworthy, perseverance. To help identify your strengths, try the FutureSelves questionnaire—contact Careers and Employment at or +64 4 463 5393.

Searching for purpose

Purpose in life is about having an understanding of who you are, and how what you’re doing contributes to something larger than yourself.

To have a strong sense of purpose, your actions need to reflect your true self (see who you are). Remember, you do not have to have it all figured out now.

Developing a sense of purpose is a lifelong journey, and is one that we all share.

Where to start

Here are a few tips to get you started on your search for purpose:

Step 1

Understand who you are, skills, strengths and values.

Step 2

Set some manageable goals that play to your strengths, abilities and interests. You’ll know when your goals are true to you because you will feel that ‘spark’, joy or excitement for it.

Step 3

Focus on what you can control—like learning new skills, maintaining good relationships and doing your best at uni.

Step 4

Take one step at a time. The path is not straight, uncertainty is all part of it, so keep learning and enjoy the ride.

Speak to someone

Mauri Ora—Health and Counselling

Monday to Friday, 8.30 am–5.00 pm
Level 1, Student Union Building, Kelburn campus