As they say, find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. If you’re like most people, no matter how much you love to do something, eventually it will feel like work on some days. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyable most of the time. In the past few blogs we’ve dug into both inspiration and motivation—both topics that can be directly related to your career development. In addition, knowing your MBTI personality type can play an enormous role in helping you better understand which careers you’d enjoy the most. Your MBTI preferences indicating how you’re energized, how you take in information and make decisions, and how you organize your world all can be framed in terms of which activities you enjoy and how you best accomplish goals.
We will discuss individual MBTI personality types in future posts—including common careers each type is drawn to, and why. But for now, let’s do a little brainstorming to set the stage for what you want to accomplish through your work. Get out a piece of paper large enough for a few sentences and something to write with.
The middle two letters of your four-letter MBTI type (the two middle letters together are also called the mental processes or the process pair) describe what you most value—the core of who you are. Check the two-letter combination below that matches your two middle letters and write down the sentence that follows your letters.
ST Getting it right, accuracy, precision, efficiency, pragmatic use of details
SF Providing practical service to others, making people’s lives better in concrete ways
NF Making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, helping people to fulfill their potential
NT Developing global systems, mastering knowledge, high standards of competence
Next, write down your answer to each of the three questions below. Think about hobbies, jobs, or activities you’ve been involved in that you really enjoyed (not just your day job), or you felt you excelled in (or both if you happen to be lucky enough to have had that experience!). Don’t think too much about your answers—write the first thing that comes to your mind that’s true for you. Limit yourself to no more than 5 minutes for all three questions:
- What is most important to you about work?
- What do you value most about what you do?
- What do you want to accomplish through your work?
Last, take the information you wrote down about the two middle letter of your MBTI type and combine it with your three answers from above to form one or two sentences. Think of this new creation as your career mission statement, and keep it where you can see it as you read through the next series of posts about MBTI personality type and career exploration. Whether you’re just graduating and getting into the workforce, or thinking of making a career change, or figuring out your 5- and 10-year professional path, taking time to evaluate your preferences, interests, and motivations is a great way to align your professional plan with your true self to be the happiest, most effective you.
And remember, your day job doesn’t have to be the one thing you do to fulfill all your wants and dreams. A mix of your career, hobbies, personal development, and side jobs; developing some expertise, and more can all contribute to helping you do what you want to do—all while increasing your self-awareness. Want a real-life example of how a woman used her MBTI personality type to help her find the most fulfilling mix of career and hobby? Here’s a story from Catherine Rains, MBTI® Master Practitioner and career counselor, about one part of her career development journey:
“In my mid-thirties, I was in a career that mostly matched the primary motivators of the middle letters of my type: NF. I had been a career counselor for the past decade and, at that moment, was managing a university career center that provided me with the opportunity to do what NF types love to do most— inspire, motivate, create, strategize, brainstorm, and envision. But something still felt missing. Not realizing my answer was hidden in type, I did a classic career development exercise where I listed everything I loved to do as a child without being told to do it. On the middle of this list was written, “create collages out of magazines.” So one Sunday afternoon, I pulled together a pile of catalogs and magazines, ripped them up, and created my first collage in 25 years. I had so much fun doing this that I continued collaging almost every day for the next three years. Somewhere along this three-year journey, I took one art class (my first ever) and learned how to make my collages look more professional.
One day soon after, I photocopied a new collage and sent it to a friend in California, who in turn framed it and displayed it on her office wall. When one of my friend’s clients saw my collage, she offered to buy it, and I gleefully sold her the original! Jump forward to the present day. I have turned that initial sale into many sales, including showing my work in many galleries and judging fine art shows, winning many awards along the way.
Although art is still a hobby, making collages complements my current career as a trainer for CPP, and allows me to express both the NF and ST middle letters of MBTI type. How? For every collage I create, I pull together somewhere between 100 and 500 little magazine pieces, moving them around a board to form a picture that looks more like a painting than a collage, a process that is like finding the perfect piece to complete a puzzle. To say the least, my art form is extremely detailed oriented (ST), and in order to sell my art I have had to learn many detailed business skills (ST), which at times has been a struggle. Yet, doing this art form, including the selling of it, almost feels like a compulsion, something I have to do to feel whole, satisfied, and complete.
Even in the midst of developing our non-preferred preferences—and for me, ST type activities—we never leave our “heart,” or middle letters, behind. Quite the contrary: our heart of type still runs the show. For me, this is reflected in the theme of my art, which is intended to inspire people to pursue their heart’s desire, all NF!”