Many of your choices (both the awesome ones and the not-so-awesome ones) can be linked directly back to your personality - your pattern of preferences, thoughts, feelings and habits that make you the person you are. Get a better understanding of those decision-making preferences and habits, and you can start to get control over your future choices.
What is your personal style?
Personality expresses itself through our thoughts, feelings and patterns of behavior. It guides many aspects of our lives, for example the types of people we are attracted to, the work we like to do, what we find funny, what we do in our free time and how we make decisions. Although our moods and opinions can vary over time, even over the course of a day, our personalities and personal preferences stay fairly stable over our lives.
Personality is made up of a collection of characteristics or “traits” such as confidence, creativity, tact, perfectionism, etc. For example, if one of your stronger personality traits is “conscientiousness”, chances are you act in a way that reflects your sense of self-discipline and responsibility. You complete things that you start, you are good at organizing, and people respect your ability to get things done. You might also avoid risks, feel uncomfortable with unplanned activities and sometimes resist change.
Knowing this about yourself (and others) is useful – it makes it easier to make choices about your career, your hobbies, activities you might want to be involved in (and avoid) and how you want to spend your time.
Sometimes the traits that are a strength in one area can create challenges in other areas of our lives. Some researchers refer to this as the “dark side” of personality. Think about the types of choices that each of these people might make:
Kerry is a highly conscientious employee, but gets stressed by changes and surprises and doesn’t deal well with people who don’t follow the rules. She is perceived as rigid (sometimes even stubborn) and a little controlling when it comes to working with others on projects or activities.
Lee's high level of extraversion makes him a real people-person, but he has trouble working independently and gets bored and demotivated with tasks that require working alone. He is viewed as less focused and more dependent on others to make decisions or get things done.
Alicia is highly agreeable and cooperative and is a considered a kind person, but she resists making decisions that involve conflict and often says “yes” to things she shouldn’t, just to avoid tension.
In my book, Ten Thousand Choices, I talk about a model of how we
make choices. In that model, personality is an important Internal Influence over our choices. One of the first challenges we face as we try to make positive changes in our lives is to become more self-aware, and to understand how our personality is driving our choices.
There are some excellent personality models and assessments out there, and some that are complete garbo (they may be fun, but if it’s a Facebook quiz, take it with a grain of salt). I like the Hogan Personality Inventory and that whole line of assessments best, but also think the MBTI and DISC and several of the 4-type “color” models can be useful as well. You have to be careful and just do a little research and consider your results in combination with all the other stuff you know about yourself.
I created a short, simple personal style exercise to get you thinking about personal factors that may be influencing your choices. It takes a very high-level whack at personality type and does not drill down into the granular facets of personality differences. So, if you think of this tool as a surgical instrument, it is more like a hacksaw than a scalpel. It is loosely based on Carl Jung’s ideas around psychological type and on subsequent measurement models, such as the Myers-Brigg’s Type Indicator.
There are no tricks or hidden meanings in the sections. It is not actually a test at all, it is a self-guided exploration for you to think through and determine your style. You will learn about the four styles as you go through the exercise and select the one that best fits how you see yourself. In other articles I have written and in the book, you can review all the style profiles and decide if it is a good fit, or if another style or combination of styles fits better.
It is important to keep in mind that there is no best “type”, each has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to making good choices. In addition, we can have feelings and display behaviors that align with any of all of these styles, depending on the situation. The goal here is to gain some self-awareness; to understand the predominant personality characteristics driving your decisions and use it to your advantage.
Download the PDF here. See what you think, then read some of my other pieces about personal style and what it might mean for your future decisions. If you like what you have read so far, sign up for my emails (look at the top of your screen) and I will send you new ideas and tools to keep you moving forward!