What should I do with my life?
To find this out, I created a party trick.
It's better than fire eating, beer pong excellence or card shuffling mafia style.
Call me lame, but I love testing a complete stranger at a party for their Myers-Briggs Personality Type.
In 10 minutes of slow-burn Q&A, I'm about 85% accurate.
And when I rattle off some common traits about the person, my new acquaintance is pleasantly surprised, delighted to hear somebody finally understands their unique set of quirks.
You might be wondering: What does this have to do with my life purpose, direction and ultimate calling?
As MTV’s Daria famously said at 17:
“My goal is not to wake up at forty with the bitter realisation that I've wasted my life in a job I hate, because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”
That’s my goal too.
Not to oversimplify the process of self-discovery – but having a basic idea of:
- Whether you’re more of an extrovert or an introvert
- Operate intuitively or through your senses
- Think logically or emotionally, or are
- More spontaneous as opposed to planned
is enough to give yourself a framework for making these future decisions, especially in regards to the question of:
"What Am I Meant To Be Doing With My Life?"
If you're not completely sold yet, be aware that it could shed light on the darkness of your thousands of options (the blessed-curse of every Generation Y-er) and lead you to a clarity you've only ever dreamed of.
Here are 4 reasons why knowing your personality type can help you figure out what you should do with your life:
1. It WILL HACK YOUR process of self-knowledge.
Becoming a jack-of-all-trades, yet master-of-none is a result of indecision in the face of countless, unexamined experiences.
Yes, trial and error is a crucial endeavour, but having a curated list of what you should try becomes extremely useful to edge you closer to your calling.
People who are happy in their careers will enthusiastically remark:
- "I feel like a duck in a pond. My work is a natural expression of my talents and personality."
- "My job fits me so well that often, work is play."
- "I'm proud of what I do and enjoy telling other people about it."
- "It's hard work, but often I just become so focused I forget to eat lunch."
Your future employers value work experience because it equals a deeper knowledge and understanding of your discipline. This career process may require patience, as you should not rush revelation, but some people stay in jobs for years for all the wrong reasons.
“I became an Accountant because it was a stable career choice,” said the once young, now deeply unhappy Accountant who valued certainty and security.
For the Analyser personality type, who loves crunching numbers, lots of numerical data, and doesn’t mind balancing profit-and-loss statements for 60+ hours a week, a job in Accounting would totally suit them.
So if somebody with the above qualities said, "I just think number crunching is so fun," then my premonition would be that they will have a long, fulfilling career in accounting.
However, if you failed 2-unit Maths in Year 11, struggle to focus on long, tedious tasks, and much prefer talking to people over talking to Excel, perhaps a re-consideration is in order.
So go ahead, get a graduate position somewhere, but know what you like and don't like; take stock on what comes naturally or not so naturally to you.
Wear the lens of knowledge about your personality type going into your experience, so you can evaluate smartly about your next step.
2. It fast-tracks your understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
So you don't beat yourself up or compare yourself to other people.
I have this saying:
"Water your own grass. It is counterproductive to envy those with greener lawns or prettier pastures. The best version of you is worth pursuing."
This is because you are unique.
Nature is what we're born with. Nurture is what we learn to become in light of all the extra factors.
The beauty of knowing our personality type is that it provides an explanation for why we are the way we are.
Effort certainly matters, but personality type is what we're left with when we're stripped of physical appearance, social and environmental factors, family upbringing, ethnicity and gender.
As a former event planner, I wrote up run sheets on Excel with deep pain in my heart, crying every time I had to schedule meetings with my team and execute task lists. That level of administration just didn't come naturally to me.
I just wanted to generate ideas, dream up the future of our event, hold dinner parties to inspire and care for my organising committee, and be an entertaining host for Three Poets Speak. (I'm a Promoter/Driver type when it comes to working styles).
Supporter types are natural logisticians - they can synergise concrete tasks in beautiful detail, simultaneously balancing keen social awareness. They don't get tired from it either, but energised.
So whatever comes naturally to you are probably your strengths, and whatever is difficult or doesn't even fly on your radar is likely a weakness.
3. It will help you calibrate your passions with your skills.
Having spent over 5 years as a Social Worker and Youth Worker, I was able to road test my career options.
For example, I knew I cared deeply for people at the pointy end of injustice, like vulnerable kids in unsafe environments. What I wasn't fantastic at, was the system of highly structured case management, involving court documents and law-abiding rules. Eventually I got the hang of it, but like event planning - I executed out of obligation, not joy.
As a result, while I loved helping vulnerable kids, I still felt like there were parts of me yet to be discovered. That's why trial and error is satisfied by extensive gap years and travelling abroad by most Gen Y-ers. Ample choice is both a blessing and a curse. But until we try many things, we're not convinced that we're ready to choose those few things.
And how do we choose those few things?
Personal Development Blogger Mark Manson says:
"Find what you love and let it kill you."
There are crappy parts of every job.
Channel 7's Melissa Doyle once said that she loves being a Journalist, however what she doesn't love is having her job inflexibly dictate her schedule, sometimes leaving her husband and children in the middle of the night to catch flights to unsafe parts of the world to cover a news story.
(I have seen Melissa Doyle host a live forum for White Ribbon Day. Her knack for leading conversation and connecting with an audience is mesmerising. Safe to say - her communication and interviewing skills fit her snugly into the Promoter type.)
So weigh up your pros and cons. However this assessment can't be accurate without a certainty about what you're willing to suffer through, confirming exactly what you are passionate about.
4. It will liberate you from the boxes your high school teachers put you in.
And renew your understanding of yourself, because each personality type has aspects of envy.
It sounds paradoxical, but knowing your personality type will confirm senses you might have had about yourself, rather than simply limit you to a category, (despite personality types being about 16 categories, or 4 working styles...)
Here's what I mean: categories are received with sour taste to most people, because of the assumptions others make about their category.
For example, at school a Driver personality type might have been labelled "unruly" or "too talkative in class" by a teacher. This is because Driver types are strong-willed, assertive and entrepreneurial, most comfortable when they are in positions of authority, not when they are confined to orderly lines and instructed to sit quietly for 90 minutes.
For a Driver type to know that this is why they got red-carded in class so often, it would renew their understanding of themselves, embracing their natural, fact-paced leadership ability.
For every personality type has aspects of envy.
Steve Jobs was a Driver personality type. He may have been stubborn to work with, but he was the nucleus behind Apple's intuitive interfaces and changing the course of the modern computing world.
So, let's summarise how knowing your personality type will help you figure out what to do with your life:
- hack your process of self-knowledge, helping you understand yourself quicker as you reflect on your experiences, narrowing down your options.
- fast track you to understand your strengths and weaknesses so you have less reason to compare yourself to others, embracing your God-given uniqueness.
- highlight what kind of job you might love enough to endure its tough challenges.
- renew our understanding of yourself, so you see your weaknesses as opportunities for growth and capitalise on your strengths.
After all, your personality type is like your fingerprint of DNA, the unique combination of what is unseen about a person’s identity; the aspect that must be felt and experienced.
If you're serious about understanding yourself better and want to take your self-knowledge to the next level, head to my friend Moby's site for your free Career Personality Profile.
I know it sounds "salesy", but I just did mine and it's boosted my confidence that I'm on the right career track.
Enjoy learning more about yourself :)
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