Burst of Insight

Burst of Insight

Last month I sent this text to a friend, 3 days before we left for our early summer vacation:

Burst of Insight | Modern Mrs Darcy
I just booked our vacation rental for Michigan. We’re leaving in 3 days. Can you believe that I used to think I was a planner?

And I realized something in that moment I hadn’t realized in my thirtysomething previous years: I’m not a planner.

If you know me, this will seem really obvious. But to me it was a revelation, because I have always liked to make plans.

When I was in high school, I read every page of the promotional materials for at least 200 schools.

When I was in college, I loved sitting down with the course catalogs and mapping out my future. I put together course plans–for my freshman year straight through graduation–mapping out exactly what potential paths might look like, how many courses I’d be able to sample, how many majors I’d be able to squeeze in.

Did you catch that key word up there? It’s “potential.”

Because of my love for the dreamy kind of planning, I thought I was an INTJ for a long time (which is laughable, if you know me. Or if you’ve read this blog for 5 minutes).

But I am not a J. Like Emily Dickinson, I dwell in possibility. (My ipod has those words engraved on it. It was a gift. Hmm.) I love examining situations and plans and ideas from every conceivable angle. I’ve always loved test-driving dreams and plans and potential life paths in my head. I’m a P to the core, but I confused this impulse to explore possibilities with the impulse to plan.

I’m a P: I want to map out a hundred possible plans-because Oh! Possibility!–but I’m not a planner. If I was, deciding on one plan–big or little-wouldn’t be such torture.

I hope you don’t find this morning’s navel gazing too indulgent (especially because I feel like there’s been a lot of it lately).

But I always like to talk MBTI, and firmly believe in the power of understanding your personality. A little self-awareness helps you see your strengths and your weaknesses. It helps you understand what’s upsetting to you and what makes you hum. And it helps you understand what’s causing friction in your relationships. (That’s been a big one at my house, lately.)

Just for fun: if you know your Myers Briggs type, leave it in comments. Don’t know your type? Head here to take this short (and free) test.

P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.

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  1. Monica says:

    This made me smile. I am exactly the same way. I’ve taken the MBTI many times and have always been 50/50 on J and P. But I am much more a P and it’s for the reason you described. I love the possibilities and I want to learn so that I know every option out there. My husband and I recently went on our honeymoon to Bali and I planned everything to the T. But secretly I was worried that I had overdone it. I just didn’t want to miss out on anything. In the end, we were exhausted but had a great time. And then we went on a family trip where neither of us had much say in planning the itinerary. It was so freeing. Both of us felt more relaxed and I realized that I might not be a planner in the way that I thought.

  2. Carol says:

    INFP forever. At age 18, age 31, age 56. The range has varied on my “I”, but that’s about it. My mom is an INTJ and she has always had everything mapped out. I make lists, they grow, I lose them. The open possibility is the fun.

  3. Janis Williams says:

    I’m an ENFP and always have been. I used the MBTI in my classes and with my children. The one who didn’t want to take the test ended up in a class his sophomore year in college (looking for a major)using the book that I had at home: PLEASE, UNDERSTAND ME! I feel that MBTI gives insight to “what makes us tick”!

  4. Kathleen Gaughran says:

    I am an INFJ who has spent much of the last 40 years using the MBTI for personal growth, enhancing relationships and supporting my career/work.

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