How often have you gotten a compliment on your creativity or your patience or your resilience, only to wave it off, assuming that these strengths must come easily to everyone? In my 30 years as a lifestyle/career coach and author, the mistake I see people make time and again is failing to recognize their talents. An honest inventory may be difficult—even impossible—for you to do yourself. So sit with a friend and try this exercise. It's a new twist on something I call the Self-Correcting Life Scenario, and it's one of my favorites.

1. Ask your friend to name three of your strengths (The words in the image above may provide some inspiration.)

2. Tell your friend your top passion. Then have your friend tell an imaginary story of your life, based on this passion and your strengths. For instance, "You're organized, creative, and friendly, and your passion is baking. So, you run a bakery where customers can buy cupcakes with little icing portraits of themselves."

3. Take a minute to imagine this fantasy as your real life. Tell your friend what appeals to you ("Making cupcakes with artistic frosting would be awesome!") and what makes you cringe ("I'd never start my own business—the thought of bookkeeping gives me hives").

Next: How to hone your passion into a goal