Can Your Myers-Briggs Type Help You Find Well-Being at Work?

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In my writings and presentations, I drive home the importance of finding what you love to do and then doing all you can to make that your career. This, however, is a journey that will involve a few stops along the way, during which it is critical to keep up your spirits.

As you continue in your career exploration, how can you also honor your well-being throughout that journey? More fully understanding your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) preferences can help.

Recently, The Myers-Briggs Company published a three-year international study on happiness at work. I would like to address a few main points raised by the study as they relate to finding well-being throughout your career search.

The Building Blocks of Well-Being at Work

As outlined in the study, well-being is more than just generic happiness. Instead, well-being is a more complex mix of the following factors:

  1. Positive emotions: frequent feelings of happiness, contentment, or pleasure
  2. Relationships: mutual feelings of caring, support, and satisfaction
  3. Engagement: deep psychological connection and absorption in an activity or cause
  4. Meaning: having a sense of purpose and direction
  5. Accomplishment: pursuing success or mastery for its own sake
  6. Reduction in negative emotions: low levels of anxiety, pessimism, and depression

Importantly, the study notes our well-being can be improved “by identifying ways we can experience more positive emotions or addressing workplace factors that may impede experiencing positive emotions.” Our MBTI personality type preferences can play a major role here, as engaging in work that encourages our preferences can lead to experiencing those positive emotions.

Type-Based Tips for Improving Well-Being at Work

Here are a few tips to consider according to your “process pairs,” or the middle two letters in your MBTI type, which indicate the kind of information you pay attention to and how you make decisions. (The full study offers a list of factors and well-being tips by four-letter type as well.)

1. ST (ISTJ, ISTP, ESTP, ESTJ)

You tend to approach life and work in an objective and analytical manner, and you like to focus on realities and practical applications. You probably prefer work environments that follow and let you set rules and regulations. Reading, exercising, listening to and/or playing music, and aligning your work goals with your career goals are some initial steps you can take to improve your well-being.

Additionally, people with ST preferences usually like to know the who, what, when, where, and why of their circumstances so they can practically apply this information to a situation. If you are in a work environment that doesn’t give you this bottom-line concrete information in a sequential way, it could negatively impact your well-being. You may notice yourself starting to act a bit rigid or by the book, thus becoming closed off to new ideas.

2. SF (ISFJ, ISFJ, ESFP, ESFJ)

You tend to approach life and work in a warm, people-oriented manner, and you are attracted to hands-on careers. Chances are you prefer work environments that let you provide practical help to others. Eating meals with others and investing time in getting to know your coworkers could go a long way in improving your well-being.

Like those with ST preferences, people with SF preferences want to know the who, what, when, where, and why. The difference is people with SF preferences like to use this concrete information to help others in a practical, here-and-now way. If you work in environments that don’t give you these opportunities, you may become hypersensitive, concluding that others don’t appreciate your day-to-day contributions.

For more workplace well-being insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. NF (INFJ, INFP, ENFP, ENFJ)

You tend to approach life and work in a warm and enthusiastic manner, and you focus on ideas and possibilities. You most likely prefer work environments that give you opportunities to make a long-term impact on others. For this group, a few well-being tips from the study include eating meals with others, engaging in mindfulness techniques, undertaking assignments where you learn something new, and reminding yourself why your work matters.

People with NF preferences are often described as the “possibilities for people” people, meaning they have a need to make a lifelong difference in the lives of others. If your work environment doesn’t give you this opportunity, you may start to find yourself imagining too many possibilities, to the point that it becomes difficult to decide on following through with any one.

4. NT (INTJ, INTP, ENTP, ENTJ)

You tend to approach life and work in a logical and objective manner, and you like to make use of your ingenuity to focus on possibilities, particularly those that have a technical application. You probably prefer work environments that encourage you to change things up in new and innovative ways. A few well-being tips for you include regular exercise, using stress management techniques, investing time in getting to know your coworkers, and managing your work to ensure you have leisure time.

People with NT preferences are often described as the “possibilities for systems” people in that they have a need to make a difference in how work systems operate. You probably have a desire to change up how things have always been done and find innovative ways to do it better. If your work environment doesn’t give you opportunities to do this, you may start to question your own competence or the competence of others.

I like to say any type can do anything. That said, there is very clear data that shows certain types are attracted to certain careers. No matter what your personality type, if you make well-being a top consideration in your career choices and workplace behaviors, you’ll find yourself more fulfilled, more productive, and better positioned for success.

Michael Segovia is the lead trainer for The Myers-Briggs Company’s MBTI Certification Programs. He recently presented a TED talk reflecting on how type theory has informed his understanding of his own life story.

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