Planned Spontaneity

31 12 2010

Ohkay, I admit it. I’m one of those crazy people counselors learn about…the type of person that constantly analyzes people for their Myers-Briggs personality type.

I won’t go into too much detail, but essentially, the Myers-Briggs test uses four dichotomies to measure psychological preferences that individuals have.  The four dimensions are: where do we get our energy from (Introvert or Extrovert), how do we perceive the world (Sensing or iNtuition), how do we make judgments about the world (Thinking or Feeling), and which of our preferences we use when relating to the external world (our Judgment function or our Perception function).  There is a lot of theory involved in Myers-Briggs, and it can get extremely complicated, so if you’re interested, there are a lot of online resources, and if you’re associated with a college or university, your counselling centre or your career services centre should have the official Myers-Briggs test, as well as other more official resources.

To keep it simple for this post, let me just say that after you take the test, the four dimensions gives you four letters that summarize your preferences.  For example, if you’re an introvert with a perceiving preference and you prefer thinking and intuiting, you would be an INTP.  Since there are four dimensions with two choices each, there are (2^4) 16 possible personality types, so the INTP, for example, is sometimes referred to as “the Thinker” personality type.

Before I continue with the rest of this post, let me just write a disclaimer clarifying that the billions of people in this world cannot be categorized into 16 types, and they shouldn’t be.  Myers-Briggs highlights preferences for how individuals act, and if used properly, it can be a wonderful tool to understanding ourselves and the people in our lives, both professionally and personally.  For me, understanding how someone perceives the world differently than me, for example, helps me be a better communicator when I try to “speak their language”, such as when I attempt to explain a situation from their perspective.  I also tend to get less frustrated when I understand where someone is coming from, what his or her motivations are and why they are acting a certain way.

The four letters are also spectrums, so I might be an Extrovert, but I could be very close to being an Introvert, so there are many individuals who would then be much more extroverted than I am.

For a wonderful illustration of what Myers-Briggs is and how it can be relevant to an individual, I highly recommend a dear friend’s recent blog post.  As long as Myers-Briggs is used simply to understand individuals and team dynamics, and not used as criteria for hiring or selecting relationships, it can be a wonderful tool.

With all that theory mumbo-jumbo aside, my entire point of bringing in Myers-Briggs was to explain the thrill of my recent adventures with some close friends.

The last dichotomy in Myers-Briggs, Judgment (J) versus Perceiving (P), can seem like the most confusing of the four.  However, to simplify it, being a J tends to mean that you prefer structure, order, being punctual, scheduled, and organized.  Meanwhile, being a P tends to mean that you prefer spontaneity, flexibility, innovation, enjoying the moment, and as a result, they can tend to be less punctual.  (I tried to be as unbiased as possible when writing these explanations, so I hope I was successful!)

To demonstrate my extreme J-ness, you may have noticed that I have recently been posting much more frequently than I have been. In part, this is because I had quite a few things to share recently. But more importantly, it’s because I gave myself a guideline of posting four times a month, and I only posted twice in November, but five times in September, so I needed to post five times this month to make up for the difference.  And I wanted to finish 2010 without loose ends, so I can start 2011 on a clean slate, without having leftover blog posts to write, which is why I am posting on New Year’s Eve…

This is how much I value structure. This is how crazy I am.

All this to share an interesting story about some of my friends who happen to also be J’s (photo above).

The four of us are all J’s, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate some good, spontaneous fun.  But how to do that?

Well, one of us suggested that we split into two groups of two, and book two full days off, so that one group plans one day without the other two knowing what the plan is, and then we’ll switch for the other day.  We sat around a round table, and we came up with parameters for this planned spontaneity.  First, a budget was set.  Then, guidelines for alternatives to activities that one or more of us may not be entirely comfortable with.  It was amazing how much planning could go into two spontaneous days of fun when you get four J’s together!  There were itineraries and extensive buffer times in case people were late or things didn’t go exactly according to plan.

In short, we absolutely, positively J’ed Up the P, and we are proud of it!

As you can see from the photo above, one day involved going go-karting with karts that could go in excess of 70 kilometres per hour!  The other day involved going to a place that most of us had never been before.  Both days were filled with activities that none of us had ever done, and it was thrilling to be in total control for one day and in complete lack of control on the other day, but knowing that we were in extremely capable hands.

It was honestly two of the most amazing days I have ever had, so if you and your friends happen to be J’s, and you were looking for a different way to have some wickedly, good times, try J-ing Up the P!

P.S. The four of us also spent a lot of our time together talking about Myers-Briggs, which I think is because we also all happen to be NF’s, so we love people, and we love discussing theory!

P.P.S. Happy New Year!!!  Hope everyone has a safe and memorable evening!




3 responses

2 01 2011

Great post. Glad you enjoyed our retreat together. I was close to freaking out (internally, of course) when I had absolutely no clue where we were going, as we were walking in the middle of nowhere with dog barking at us.

Glad I wasn’t in control. Glad I was able to let go and let loose for a moment. Thanks!

12 02 2011
I Am Changing « The Pro-Psychotics

[…] specialties, and an interesting part of these summaries is that they actually include what Myers-Briggs personality types tend to be found in each medical specialty!  The funny thing, though, is that understanding […]

12 02 2011
Why I Quit My PhD « The Pro-Psychotics

[…] downside of loving structure and planning as much as I do is that I am easily drawn to ready-made programs and paths that seem almost […]

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