Meyers-Briggs and My Calendar

In case you’re new to reading here, there’s something you need to know about me.  It’s all important, because it’s fairly defining.  It’s not defining in a boxed in kind of way, rather it’s more of a this is how you understand me kind of way. According to the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator I’m an INFP.  I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s quite all right if you missed it.

Basically it means I’m an introvert (I get my energy from being far away from the maddening crowd) who is more intuitive than sensory oriented.  When operating in full INFP force I let my heart rule my head.  As for the P?  Basically it means I prefer piles over files.  I may believe everything has a place, but I really don’t know where that would be, how to get the things there, or how to remember what that place was after I put things in it.  It also means I’m not big on routine.  I much prefer spontaneity.  That’s where the current rub is.

Last week, my department sat down and planned next year’s calendar.  In my life that’s a necessary evil.  I loathe the idea of knowing where I will be and what I will be doing on any given date.  For example, unless things change drastically, I will be teaching public speaking to WorldVenture’s newest missionaries on July 12, 2013.  (If you don’t know your MBTI, and you just thought, “That’s so cool!  I wish I knew what I was doing that day!”  You are not a P.  You are a J.  The world needs you.  P’s need you.  They just need you to be less enthusiastic.)

I find that fact fairly disheartening.  It’s not that I don’t like teaching the public speaking module, because I generally like it.  It’s that I know what I’ll be doing 15 months from now.  There’s no room for spontaneity.  There’s no room for a wild hare.  There’s just predictability.

Predictability has its place.  It’s good to know who will be excited about milk chocolate so I can anticipate how much dark chocolate will be up for grabs.  It’s good to know the weather forecast because getting caught in a May snowstorm without a jacket is just a silly way to spend the day.  It’s good to know what a paycheck will be–for many reasons.  Those are places I like predictability.

You might think to yourself, “C’mon, Sheryl!” You had a school calendar that you’ve lived with most of your life.”  Well, that’s true, but it’s different.  I could not look at a calendar a year or two out from where I was and know what I’d be teaching.  I knew I’d be in school, but beyond that I could anticipate an unfolding mystery not a done deal.  And school breaks?  They were very mysterious and full of possibility.

Perhaps that’s the crux of the matter–planning the calendar a year or more in advance feels like denying possibility.  It feels like things are set in stone and the rest of life has to revolve around them.  I know that’s not entirely true, but that’s what it feels like.  (Remember, I’m an F–my heart rules my head when it has free reign.)

So if you’re ever headed to a calendar planning meeting and your colleague is dragging his feet, just remember he’s probably a P and in this case (in his mind) P probably stands for Painful Process.

Do you like to have a plan and follow the plan?  Do you like to fly by the seat of your pants?  Are you a pile-it or a file-it?


photo courtesy of lusi on




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