Nailing your habits is one of the keys to leading a productive and healthy life as a business owner, but why do habits come easily for some people and not others? Why do I think routine gives me freedom, where others find doing the same thing at the same time, day in, day out a horrifying prospect?
Because we are all wired differently. Sure, in a broader sense we all flip our thinking between quick and dirty System 1 and dour and deliberate System 2, we are all influenced by our social and physical environments (norms and priming), and prefer avoiding losses to potential gains (loss aversion), but there’s nuance in how people engage with the world. Some of us are more introverted than others, prefer spontaneity over planning, facts over feelings and reality over possibility.
That’s why I’ve been keen for a long time to get more granular about the science of habit change. While I can give some people a plan to follow to change their habits, others will simply not respond to that type of support.
So I’m excited to say I have finally worked out how to crosshatch one of the world’s most popular personality profiles with my work in habits. And it’s free for you to use.
Habit tips by personality type
I was thinking about the author Gretchen Rubin’s habit quiz recently. Hers was the first attempt I’d seen at categorising behaviours to help people gain insights into their habits. Much as I liked her endeavour, there were two problems I had when reading her material. First, I personally couldn’t match myself into one of her categories (but that might be a matter of poor personal insight!). Secondly, and the bigger concern, was she was developing a new lexicon for habit-types that is not more widely applicable. That means people have to understand her definitions and then try to reconcile them with better known and more widely adopted (and validated) profiles.
The solution for me was to turn to a personality typography that is well entrenched, widely known and widely available. While it is not without its detractors, I was drawn to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) because so many people seem to be able to cite their profile so readily.
Now, before I go any further I have to say I am in no way affiliated with MBTI®, nor am I accredited by their foundation. I did study it along with a raft of other tools in my psychology degree, so what I have to offer here is my interpretation of the 16 personality types and how I think each relates to habits.
My goal is to help people understand how best to approach habit change, recognising that one size doesn’t fit all.
Myers-Briggs personality types in brief
Before you get your tips you may be interested in a little more about MBTI® types and how they relate to habits in general.
Extroversion (E) and Introversion (I)
Extroversion and introversion is about whether your favourite “world” is external or internal. An extroverted person gets energised relating to the outer world, thriving in environments where there is people and noise. An introverted person, on the other hand, may find people and noisy environments draining and seek solace to recharge.
For habits, this means extroverted types will tend to be drawn to group activities and situations in which there is a lot going on. Introverted types will be drawn to quieter, more individual pursuits. It doesn’t mean introverted types need to do everything by themselves, however, because some can use their sense of obligation to others to hold them accountable for habit change.
Sensing (S) and Intuition (N)
Sensing and intuition is about how you process information. Sensing people tend to value reality over theory, take things at face value, be drawn to the ‘now’ and be more hands-on. People with intuition tend to want to add meaning to information, preferring to think something through rather than necessarily experience it, and be drawn to the future.
For habits, that means sensing types will focus on facts first and value doing over thinking. So making simple changes to their environment (e.g. using smaller wine glasses) may be their best strategy. For intuitive types, the big picture is important, so tools like vision boards and goal setting can be helpful.
Thinking (T) and Feeling (F)
Thinking and Feeling is about how you make decisions. Thinking types tend to rely on logic and consistency, whereas feeling types are more attuned to people and context.
For habits, a thinking type will need to be convinced by facts and reasoning to change behaviour (e.g. medical results), and a feeling type will be persuaded by how they feel about it (e.g. I want to feel healthier).
Judging (J) and Perceiving (P)
Judging and perceiving is about how structured you prefer the outside world to be. A judging type prefers things to be decided and stick with it, whereas a perceiving type will tend to stay open to new information and options.
For habits, a judging type will seek and stick to a plan, whereas a perceiving type will get bored easily if there’s too much structure. They prefer to be spontaneous and keep plans to a minimum. A judging type will tend to get stressed by deadlines, and prefer to work at a steady rate. Work comes before play for them. A perceiving type, on the other hand, will use deadlines to energise them to work in a burst of activity, and treat work as play.
My invitation to you is to get your free tips right here, right now.
You won’t be asked for your email or any identifying information, and no information about you is retained. I’m doing this to advance my understanding of behaviour, and hopefully yours too. Don’t worry if you don’t yet have your MBTI® type — instructions on how are provided on the habit tips page.