You know the kind of food you like, your top 10 favourite films and where you hide your money. Could there be anything else worth knowing? How useful would it be?
Well if you’re not quite happy with life’s outcomes, or you need to get your life together and on the up again, it pays to know what you’re dealing with: YOU. Every one of us is unique. By doing some research, you can find out how you perceive and interact with the world, and how that affects the results you’re getting in life.
Understanding your traits means you can create a new phase of your life taking advantage of your strengths, whilst being aware of how your weaknesses could be holding you back.
Other benefits of self-research:
- Looking for your passion? You could discover it by exploring the landscape of your personality.
- If you want to aim ‘higher’, it may be absolutely necessary to uncover hidden talents, and see which areas need support from others.
- When you understand the differences in people your relationships naturally improve.
- A reminder of your virtues helps you value yourself in times when you’re feeling low.
Insights that could change your life
Imagine you’re taking a questionnaire and you’re asked to score yourself on “I am an approachable person”. You mark it “strongly disagree”. Suddenly you have an insight as to why you might be having trouble meeting men/women.
Say you score highly on the ‘agreeableness’ scale. There you have an insight as to why people tend to take advantage of you.
When making big life decisions it pays to be self-aware.
Choosing a career
Are there aspects of your personality that could help you choose a career that keeps you interested and challenged?
Where to live
Would you really be happy moving from the big city to a remote village in the country? Plenty of people have done that and regretted it.
Choosing a partner
Say you have a gregarious character and find yourself attracted by a quiet man. Opposites may attract but how would this play out a long term relationship or marriage?
Starting a business
A ‘laptop’ lifestyle may sound very appealing, but would it really suit you to be working alone most of the time?
Researching yourself forces you to be honest before making choices that affect your long-term future.
Research tools to get to know thyself
Getting to know yourself can be one of the most valuable things you can do. Here are some self-discovery tools to aid your research.
Wingfinder by Red Bull
Wingfinder is a 30 minute assessment which uncovers strengths that you can leverage in your career. They have chosen the four areas most influential than any others as components of employability and career success.
- Connections measures how well you manage relationships and how well you work independently.
- Thinking measures the ability to reason abstractly and solve complex problems using spatial and numerical reasoning.
- Creativity measures how original and innovative your thinking is, or how logical and analytical it is.
- Drive measures your level of ambition.
Developed by Red Bull and a team of psychology professors from University College London and Columbia University New York, Wingfinder is based on 30 years of psychological research to highlight your strengths and help you watch out for your weaknesses, so that you can grow, develop and succeed.
Take the test here: wingfinder.com
MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator)
More than 80 years after it was published, the Myers Briggs test is still the most popular personality test in existence. If you’ve heard people say “I’m an ISFJ” or “I’m an ENTJ”– they’re talking about their Myers Briggs result.
The code is determined from your preferences in each of these 4 areas:
Do you prefer to focus on the outer world (Extraversion) or on your own inner world (Introversion)?
Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in (sensing) or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning (intuition)?
When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency (thinking) or first look at the people and special circumstances (feeling)?
In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided (judging) or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options (perceiving)?
When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, written as a four letter code.
The test was based on Carl Jung’s work on personality types, and was written to help women find suitable war-time jobs.
Although the test has its critics, I think it is an incredibly useful questionnaire to open your eyes to the potential you have. And it’s a lot of fun.
Take the (unofficial) test for free online: https://www.16personalities.com/
“Good type development can be achieved at any age by anyone who cares to understand his or her own gifts and the appropriate use of those gifts.”Isabel Briggs Myers
The Big Five, or the Five Factor Model
If you’re looking for something more academically robust, the “Big Five” is the most valid personality scale. Used by clinical psychologists it’s the most reliable in terms of results.
It measures these 5 factors:
Openness to experience:
Extremely open people can be scattered and overwhelmed by their thoughts and ideas. On the opposite end: narrow and inflexible.
Exceptionally conscientious people can be obsessive about order, judgemental and rigid. On the opposite end: undisciplined and careless.
Extremely sociable, extraverted people can be dominant and impulsive. On the opposite end: introverted people can become isolated and depressed.
Extremely agreeable people may never stand up for themselves. On the opposite end: aggressive, callous and bullying.
Neuroticism (emotional stability):
People very high in emotional stability may engage in risky behavior. On the opposite end: so anxious that they are unable to function.
Here is where you can take the test for free. There is a short version (10-20 minutes) or a long version (30-40 minutes)
Take the Big 5 even further with Jordan Peterson
World famous clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson and his team have used the Big 5 as the basis of a self-improvement programme.
The Past, Present & Future Authoring programmes help you come to terms with your past and understand and improve your personality now, in order to design the future you want to live.
The ‘Present’ programme helps you understand and rectify your faults and understand and develop your virtues.
For example, you choose the negative traits that you feel are most important to work on, eg “May dominate the conversation excessively” or “Wait for others to lead the way”
How it works: You write about the impact your negative traits are having on your life, and then write a statement of commitment to work on improving it. That way you’re more likely to actually improve.
The programme is completed online, in your own time. It costs $29.90 USD.
The outsider’s perspective
Remember the shock you had when you first saw yourself on video? Was that REALLY you? Yes, it was you from another viewpoint that’s not you. Personality tests don’t measure everything. None of them measure how funny you are, for example.
By not knowing how others see you, you could be missing a trick.
Here’s an exercise
One of the most eye-opening (and perhaps eye-watering!) things you can do is ask other people (who know you) what they think about you.
Be brave! By plotting your self knowledge against the knowledge that others have of you, you’ll gain much greater insights and maybe even uncover talents that can be put to good use in a new career.
After completing the personality tests, write down a summary of what you think you’re like – your traits good and bad. Without divulging any of this information, ask a sample of family, friends and co-workers to describe your personality, natural abilities and behaviours.
Any surprises? How could you use these insights to live an awesome life?
Book an online life coach
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