In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, we learn that not all people see the world in the same way, but that it’s okay — we’re all equal as human beings at the end of the day. Our differences are what make us awesome.
In life, however, we learn that certain types can end up having less success in society because their preferences aren’t valued as much.
But the good news is that if f a type can learn how to adapt their natural skills in a way that still feels true to them, then they can have success regardless of the context.
That’s why, today, I’m discussing how “P’s” in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can learn how to create more structure in their lives without feeling like it’s “crushing their souls.”
What’s a “P?” “P” actually represents the “Perceiving” preference in Myers-Briggs. (Learn more about what all the letters mean.) It basically means: someone who has a preference for open-endedness and flexibility with their time.
What are P’s like? Because of this preference, P’s are more commonly known to be the types that are “always running late” or losing track of time. Spontaneous, grounded in the present moment, and open to surprises, P’s like to keep their options open and don’t tend to like committing to plans in advance.
It can be hard to be a P in a society that values structure, schedules, and to-do lists. The default in a lot of developed countries is a more systemized approach to society. There are definite benefits in organization, structure, and order, but it can be difficult for people who don’t have that natural orientation to thrive or present a different approach to time without being judged. Because “J” types tend to be dominant in power if not in number, P’s find that they need to learn how to adapt to J-environments and do things the “J” way.”
The problem is that too much structure can be suffocating for P’s. Without room to explore or to act spontaneously, P’s can feel confined and trapped. And one of the mechanisms that makes a P feel most trapped is: The Routine.
The Dreaded Routine
To most P’s, routines are boring, mundane, predictable, and “soul-sucking.” Oh, a routine may seem like a fun game in the beginning, but once it has lost it’s “shininess,” P’s are no longer interested. This is because most repetitive activities over time without any sort of change can quickly drain P’s. Unless given some sort of flexibility and freedom to express creativity within a routine, it will likely be abandoned or drain the natural joy from a P.
But how does one live life without any sort of routine? Of course, P’s use routines all the time and do need structure in their lives to flourish, but the key is how they see the routines and if those routines are actually serving them. And that brings us to today’s Tune Up!
The Tune Up:
Create Habits, Not Routines
The key to P’s having successful routines that help them to manage their lives: Create Habits, Not Routines.
What’s the difference between a habit and a routine?
Let’s take a look at the official definitions:
- Routine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
- Habit: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
The difference? A habit is automatic whereas a routine is intentional.
When someone has a habit, they do a thing “naturally” or “organically.” Even if they didn’t originally come into the habit that way, it’s been ingrained in them as something they “just” do. Most of us have thousands of habits that we’re unaware of — we say: “That’s just the way I am!”
The reason habits might resonate more deeply with P’s are because doing things “organically” really speaks to how P’s live their lives. Having habits that feel congruent and natural with who they are rather than routines that feel forceful and repetitive is key.
Why is this important? Structure can be a great foundation upon which people build change and grow. Flying by the seat of one’s pants can lead to wonderful possibilities, but it is very difficult to build things beyond the initial start-up phase and sustain growth without structure and organization. A lot of P’s want the benefits that come with having solid foundations, but traditional structures may be too much of a compromise in order to get them.
That’s why important tools like routines need to be approached in a different way by P’s. And besides making intentional routines into automatic habits, I have 7 tips for P’s to sneakily incorporate more structure in their lives.
1. Make your new habit a game.
Example of how to do this: Time yourself doing your new habit and then each time you do it, see if you can beat your past reacord.
2. Make your habit simple and easy to incorporate into your life.
Example of how to do this: You want to start exercising, so make it a point to do 5 minutes a day. Make it something so small and easy that it seems laughable to not do it.
3. Piggyback your habit onto something else that you already do regularly.
Example of how to do this: If you’re going to be leaving the room anyway, bring one thing with you that needs to go where you’re going. For instance: if you’re going to the kitchen anyway, bring one dish. Don’t bring them all, just one little one.
4. Track and share your habit with other people in an interesting way.
Example of how to do this: Use social media and apps for sure. Start a blog! Post status updates on Facebook each day! Instagram what you’re doing.
5. Build anticipation.
Example of how to do this: Make your new habit something you don’t do regularly. Plan it to occur randomly in your calendar and build up a sense of excitement for when you finally get to do it again.
6. Reward yourself.
Example of how to do this: Make a points system and then reward yourself once you’ve accumulated enough points. And make the reward something indulgent and fun.
7. Do it in different ways.
Example: Figure out what the habit actually is and then challenge yourself to do it differently every time. If your routine/habit is to exercise more, then try doing a different kind of exercise each day of the week and then switch it up again the next week.
8. Rotate your habit.
Example: Similar to the last one, only instead of varying your routine each day, try your habit and routine for a determined period. Make sure it’s not too long (nothing beyond a month or two) and then mix it up. For instance: Eat a Paleo diet for 30 days and then switch to eating like the French do for 30 days, so on and so forth.
P’s can thrive in more structured if they find a way to use their natural preferences within that system. Making routines into habits that are automatic, fun, and that leave room for flexibility is what will help a P to succeed regardless of context.