More than half of American workers want to switch careers. Are you one of them?
As a society, we love quizzes. We've clicked countless links in order to discover which "Game of Thrones" character we are, what Hogwarts house we'd be sorted into and what kind of pizza we'd be.
There is something inherently fascinating in these quizzes. We love finding out what others think of us, and it's especially easy to access this information through a seemingly neutral algorithm. Nevermind that most of these tests are mining your personal information; they seem to satisfy a temporary curiosity: Once we've gotten our answer, we don't think about it again.
That's largely due to our ambivalence about the results. Knowing what breed of dog we are doesn't have any effect on our day-to-day lives, so we relegate the answers to the recesses of our brains. Meanwhile, we ignore the importance of our actual personality type and how it impacts our lives. We use only past experience – college major, former jobs, etc. – to determine where we're going in our careers, paying little attention to whether or not our personality is a good match for our chosen path. One might think our personality leads us down that path to begin with, but that isn't the case for most people.
According to a survey taken for the University of Phoenix in Arizona, over 80 percent of workers in their 20s want to change careers, followed by 64 percent of those in their 30s and 54 percent of people in their 40s.
So perhaps it's worth taking another quiz to figure out whether or not our "chosen path" is, indeed, the right one. That quiz is not a whimsical social media one but the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test. The results are divided into 16 different personality distinctions and the qualities therein.
Some companies administer this test and organize teams or develop communication strategies around the results. This is a great idea for the company, but what about your place in it? Your results, of course, will help you understand not only yourself but how that influences your work.
If you're an introverted personality type, but your teammates are extroverted, it is worth your while to find calm, reflective moments throughout the day or arrive early for quiet time. If you have extroverted tendencies, it's important to take note of the introverted co-workers around you and listen carefully when they speak and read carefully what they write.
However, according to the Myers-Briggs Foundation, it's the middle two letters of your four-letter personality type that truly determine your career path. An ENFP, for example, might be an extrovert, but those middle two letters tell the story of someone who works by intuition (N) and feeling (F). Therefore, any position where creativity is discouraged or where leadership is not to be questioned is not for them.
Imagine knowing that you're an INTJ – an introvert (I) who works by intuition (N), thinking (T) and judging (J). If you are in a loud, open work environment without walls or a door to close, your perfectionist and hard-working tendencies will be greatly disrupted. You'll be less productive and likely resentful. Armed with this knowledge, you could request a more secluded area to work in, and everyone would likely be much happier.
Even without the test's results, this kind of introspection could save your career. If you're in a leadership position, it's valuable to not only know your personality and behavior but those of your team. If you're struggling in a leadership role, you would have the tools to answer the question, "Is it me?" You can put together strategies for how to encourage productivity, which pairings make the most sense for projects and who to put in charge of which task.
If you're unhappy in your current role, it's a good idea to examine your own habits first. Are you often late or usually on time? Do you get along with your superiors or is there continued conflict? We tend to get overwhelmed by unhappiness in our jobs, thinking that perhaps it's the particular company we work for.
A 2014 survey showed half of those interviewed claiming to be unhappy in their job, with two-thirds of workers under 30 saying they haven't found the right career yet. More surprisingly, one in five workers in their 60s still thinks they're in the wrong role. Can there be that many terrible companies to work for or are we not examining what our personalities dictate our ideal environment to be?
To dig deeper, go back and look at the original job description for your role, and see what first attracted you to it. Was it the "fast-paced environment" you were promised? The challenge of "autonomy," or was it "working as part of a team?" Whatever the key component was, see if it's actually part of your current job or if you were sold a bill of goods to fill a seat.
If the particular aspect of the job description that appealed to you most isn't happening now, it might be worth a chat with your boss to see if you can reintroduce that missing element. If the old description matches your current job, perhaps it's you who has changed. It's not uncommon for likes and dislikes to evolve, so why wouldn't that hold true for our jobs, where we spend most of our time? A thorough examination of our own personality can help us determine where we were and where we want to be.
If you discover your personality type doesn't fit your role, don't panic. There are plenty of internal improvements that can be made without losing your job. If it's time to move on, at least you will be equipped with a better understanding of what you want in your next career.