Calling on Strengths to Get Out of Debt

Brent O'Bannon CliftonStrengths

Americans have more credit card debt than ever before. According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. households collectively hold over a trillion dollars in credit card debt. The average American family owes $8,377.

In talking with one of my coaching clients, they expressed a goal to pay off their debt in two years to prepare for retirement.  The obstacles to this goal are they owe 67% of each of their paychecks to credit card and loan debt, their job raises are determined by the legislature, and there is no overtime at her workplace.  Once you reach the max of your pay grade, you either have to find a new job within the company or leave.  They want to pay off debt and be in a good place for retirement in a couple of years, but it all feels overwhelming.

Another option for more money to pay on bills is to get a side hustle leveraging her strengths.

The question I asked was “Which of your strengths can you call on to help you get out of debt and make more money? “  Their top 5 strengths are:

  1. Empathy
  2. Connectedness
  3. Input
  4. Developer
  5. Strategic

The first four are relationship building, and they use them exceptionally well in working with people. She loves showing empathy, connecting people to resources, and developing people. Why not become a life coach? Building a life coaching business on the side is a great way for this person to pay off debt and create a fulfilling revenue stream with her strengths.

Do you see that 5th strength – Strategic?

According to Gallup “The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large.”  Doesn’t that seem like the perfect strength to use when they are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to move forward?

Using their Strategic theme will support them in sorting through the disorder of their current financial situation and plan the best path to work their way out of their financial situation. Using this strength, we began to look for patterns to bring some order to feeling overwhelmed.

Once the patterns began to emerge, they began to play out different situations, asking them self, “What if I do this? What would happen if I do? Using these questions over and over it helped them see what they could do and what could happen if they do.  From that place, they could evaluate their plan and the potential of obstacles.

Armed with this strategy they began to view what felt like an overwhelming situation in their life as something that they could manage.  Looking at the patterns of what they do in their life as it pertains to their finances they were able to find the changes to make in some, the ones that they could not change and the patterns that will be discarded.  A plan began to emerge that would take them to their goal of paying off their debt in two years in time for retirement.

What emerged was strategically offering her technology and writing services for another entrepreneur and building her life coaching business.

What had been at the beginning of the call an overwhelming situation in their life was now taking shape as a manageable situation, the work was not all done, but the action plan was in place to get out of debt and build a side hustle to make more money with her strengths.

What strengths can you call on to get out of debt?  Knowing what your strengths are is important but knowing how to use them is essential.  (click here to view all 34 strengths and their characteristics) We talk a lot about using our strengths in corporate settings and how managers need to honor employee’s strengths.

But what about you – how do you get out of debt with your strengths? What kind of side hustle could you start with your strengths?







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