The MBTI. It’s very likely that you’ve seen this name somewhere before, even if it was in the deepest corner of your unconscious realm, manifesting itself as the typical Quarter-Life Crisis, and the accompanying sense of Panic as a result of an apparent lack of Purpose in Life.
But don’t let these “big words” thwart you! For congratulations, my friend: today, I formally introduce you to your saviour: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Trust me, it will change your life.
For me, it all started the day I woke up and realized, much to my horror, that I can now officially request a June convocation. Along with this brutal realization came the urgency, the panic, and, of course, the resentment that through all sixteen (16) years of school, nobody’s actually bothered to seriously teach me how to find a job. Looking back, I had been so terribly confused all those years. I remember, in high school Career class, due to having a somewhat over-inflated average (and ego), I just shrugged my shoulders one day and decided that the easiest way to avoid the need to ever find a job was, of course, to become a doctor! Unfortunately, this way of thinking did not get me very far, so that by second year of university, watching my whole future flush down the drain, it came to me that the easiest way to avoid the need to ever find a job was, of course, to stay in school forever! So I messed around with the potential that was graduate school, and was heartbroken when I realized that the slow and steady pace of academia just isn’t for me.
So now I’m here, actually learning how to find a job.
As I went bumping into one wall after another on my quest to find the most satisfying career path, I realized, much to my surprise, that it was slowly turning into a quest to find myself. It became about more than just discovering my interests, my values and my skills; instead, it got distilled down to, well, me.
More specifically, my personality.
I have taken the MBTI test many, many times now. (Here is a brief online version, although the best one is probably that offered by the Career Centre, which is required if you sign up for the Career Choice and Your Personality workshop). They came from different sources and had different sets of questions, some of which were much simpler than others. The result was always the same: I’m an INFJ (Introverted, Intuition, Feeling, Judging – these are called “functions”). I must admit, I did at times have my doubts about the test’s accuracy: at first glance, it not only seems improbable that the world is made up of merely 16 different “types” of people, but it’s also disconcerting that some details describing the other types also sounded like me. Since the test is based on “preferences,” it’s very easy to experience a moment of self-fulfilling prophecy when browsing through the descriptions of the different types. The key here, I’ve found, is to realize that “preferences” refer not to what you would like to see yourself as, but rather your natural tendency to be a certain way at any given moment. Also, keep in mind that while some detailed descriptions may apply to more than one type (for example, an INFJ and an INTJ may both focus more on the future than on the present), the four “functions” work synergistically to give rise to a personality type. In this way, all 16 types are unique.
That is not to say that the results should never be questioned. After all, isn’t this the one thing we were taught to do in university? To question everything? In fact, the more you question, the more decisions you’ll have to make either to accept or reject a third person’s statement about who you are, and through this process, you’ll end up discovering more about yourself than you could possibly imagine. Only then will you be able to sit down and actually make a smart choice about what to do with the rest of your life, a decision you will actually be happy with.
Thus your MBTI type is not a doctrine that you must strictly follow. Instead, take it as a start-off point, a way to narrow down your options a little and point you to a more assertive direction. Ultimately, you are the judge of how much you believe in, and how well you understand yourself.
Here are two MBTI typology books that I highly recommend:
This was the first “career” book I ever read, and it most definitely opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities that I had never even considered before. It dedicates the first few chapters to a very solid introduction of the MBTI and how it works. Then it goes on to target each type individually, listing the type’s top few work-related preferences, and provides you with a whole list of careers classified under different industries. It also points out the type’s strengths and potential weaknesses with regard to job searching, and how to target your job search according to your personality.
2. You’ve got personality: an introduction to the personality types described by Carl Jung and Isabel Myers. By Mary McGuiness
If, after all this, you still have doubts about which type you are, or even about the validity of MBTI, this book will wholly convince you that it works! Besides offering insights on your type’s work, leadership and relationship preferences, it goes into amazingly accurate detail explaining your development pattern (how you were as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, etc.) and your natural response to stress, and offers recommendations on how to live a balanced lifestyle in the face of stress.
It looks like this (don’t worry, this is the only picture I could find online – the actual print version I read is in English), and can be found in the “Discover” section of the Career Centre Library. It’s this glossy-paged, huge, flat book. You won’t miss it.
Finally, I leave you with something I’ve discovered recently that’s just full-throttle awesome:
Although this is a list of philosophies of Bruce Mau Design, most statements can be easily applied to just about anyone’s life. They are not only comforting, but liberating as well.