Marc's INTJ Blog

INTJ Anti-patterns You Should Know About

Friday July 20, 2018

Lately I’ve had an influx of INTJs here. You guys are awesome. Here is some recent feedback:

  • I advised one of you to procrastinate your project until the last minute possible, and you let me know that this approach worked great. (I’m starting with the craziest piece of advice here, but sometimes crazy advice is good advice)
  • I told another one of you that, like many INTJs, your activities and attitudes indicate that you are super competitive. This competitive drive will push you so far toward a sort of cold independence that you are likely to find yourself in an uncontrollably dependent situation as a result, longing for intimate companionship. You looked back at your past experience and said “holy ****, you’re right.” (This was fun feedback for me :-))
  • Another one of you INTJs wanted my feedback about your medication. And: I’m not a doctor. You know that. But I gave you some new tools with which you can evaluate your medicating-system, as you work with your actual doctor. Tools for measurement, tools for analysis. You told me this really helped you. (The same approach helped me too; I’m no longer on medication for anxiety or depression, having been pronounced cured years ago)

I’m concerned about the rest of you, and I want to make sure you get the best help possible. The world does not always respond well to INTJs who need help. We are usually looking for information and we get frustrated when we get only empathy in return, or only someone else’s observational analysis of our thoughts. Or we are invited to get emotional, which is an extremely low-leverage tool for an INTJ.

So today, let me offer information about a few things that are going to hurt your chances of making progress. Stuff you can avoid, because INTJs are good avoiders.

And when you get a chance, flip back through some of my older posts. I often spend more time editing and updating old posts than I do adding new posts.

Intro to Anti-patterns

As an INTJ, I find that I sometimes learn more quickly from “don’t do this” messages than I do from “definitely do this” messages. In the tech world, there are lots of anti-patterns articles, and I sometimes find these really helpful.

(By the way: The corresponding risk in taking anti-patterns too seriously is that they become an excuse to avoid & shy away from new practices or new areas of work. So let’s use these avoiding-strategies to inform our actively-not-avoiding-life strategies; do we have a deal?)

Anyway, here are a few anti-patterns for you.

Anti-pattern 1: Closing yourself off to new experiences

For intuitive introverts, closing ourselves off to new experiences is really dangerous because it’s so darn easy. It’s easy to think rather than do, or rather than think-and-do. A traditional weak point of the INTJ is actually experiencing things, as opposed to intuiting about them inside the INTJ mind. The more deftly you can balance the two (experiencing and intuiting), the more lucky you’ll be in life, the better your plans will work out, and the more patient other people will be with your criticisms.

Please don’t misinterpret me though: Intuition is still huge for INTJs. You should probably be using it more, and in better form, than you do currently. It’s a question of balance.

As an example, let’s say you’re in a corporate training meeting, and a trainer invites you to do some specific thing. As an INTJ, there’s a good chance your psychology will want to respond with, “well, I can see that thing really helping me out, but I can also see that it might be a waste of time because I’ll get a result like it did the last time I tried something similar”. It’s important to allow yourself to hold onto that thought, save it for later, and test out the suggestion in real life, rather than stopping because your intuition tells you to. If things don’t go well, let the trainer know! Get more feedback. But at least try it—again and again, if needed.

Your INTJ intuition is only as wise and well-developed as your past experience. So it’s really risky to rely on our intuition alone, unless you have literally experienced everything and everyone there is to experience. You simply don’t, and can’t, know it all. You can view this through the lens of the cognitive functions: Ni (introverted intuition) is concerned with visualizing outcomes beforehand, while Se (extraverted sensing) is concerned with actually experiencing the thing, diving in. These two functions are opposites, and each has its strengths in a given situation. In order to get the best from your problem-solving abilities, be sure to use them both, or make sure you’re not using one to the exclusion of the other. Plus, when you experience things through Se, your intuition grows in maturity and strength.

When you criticize something after you’ve experienced it, people will take your feedback more seriously. Also, there are many, many people of different personality types who are naturally biased to think that the INTJ’s tendency to foretell is kind of ridiculous and unnecessary. If you can’t take flexible position and tone down your intuitive language for them, they may decide they don’t like you. It would suck if that person could have been a good friend, or a key ally. One personality type, the ESTJ, is a really good example of this. INTJs can usually work pretty well with ESTJs, but we can also exert tremendously uncomfortable pressure on them (unknowingly) when we speak from our intuition to tell them how we see things turning out. Ni is a common ESTJ blind spot, and if they don’t know that, they may do just about anything to shut you out of their project or work space.

You never know exactly what’s going to happen, because each situation really is different, is a common way people of other types think about this stuff. And they’ve got a good point! Being aware that these people exist can help you be more successful in working with them. Even saying something like “I have some big hesitations, but let’s see what we can learn as we try it out” can help your workmates or family members protect their own vulnerable psychologies while you communicate that you are already receiving some potentially-helpful, if potentially negative, insights. Taking our own insights too seriously can cause unneeded trouble for INTJs, just like it can for any personality type.

Anti-pattern 2: Relying on other people’s ideas or theories too much

Relying on others’ invented ideas is a really funny kind of blind spot for INTJs. I hope to offer some training on inventing for INTJs soon. But really, if you read this far, you’re probably an incredibly creative person. And you’re also probably not inventing enough of your own theories. Or maybe you haven’t yet learned how to do that (there’s a method, and it works well).

Some of those theories can be really mundane, like “what’s a nighttime routine that would help me?” Other theories will shake the world, I guarantee it. Don’t miss out on those! You have a chance as long as you’re breathing, because these are INTJ gifts, they’re already built-in.

Usually when INTJs get into creative mode, they make this “one common mistake” (I smile here because I feel like I’m writing ad copy, but really this is sincere): They make art, instead of making new self-technology.

Both of these are creative undertakings. So do both. Art is awesome and I love to make art myself. But I have learned that art can also be an avoidance tool, or it can keep us from developing other creative extensions, things that help us really feel like we’re on top of the world.

When you make art as an INTJ, do you just copy others’ work all the time? No way! You want to make your own thing. Maybe you do a bit of copying here and there, or use it as inspiration. But the goal is to create your own stuff.

The same goes with your work processes, your life strategies: If you can learn to make them your own, you’ll move faster and more effectively. You’ll realize your favorite self-help books are no longer as effective because you’ve moved beyond that stage and your own technology is superior, because it was designed by you, to fit you.

Take a look at How to Think Better as an INTJ. It’s very much related.

(One way I can tell an INTJ spends a lot of concern on others’ ideas: They recommend lots of books to me. I love it, but I want to see it balanced with another set of personal tools.)

As an idea- and theory-giver myself, I try to use that energy to help INTJs become more independent.

Anti-pattern 3: Soliciting too much feedback from people whose psychology is far different from your own

I hate it when I hear about this: An INTJ goes to someone of another personality type, and that person tells the INTJ “in order to be happy, you need to…”

Guess what the answer is?

“…be like me.”

They don’t actually say those words to the INTJ, but that’s the substance of their message. Maybe an ENFJ tells you to do things that an ENFJ is good at, or an ESFP tells you the solution is more badminton, or something. It happens lots. (There’s no reason to be upset with those individuals about this, it’s just a thing that happens to all of us)

Sadly, the world is full of people who have pushed themselves to be like just about every other type except their own. I know many INTJs who fall into this category.

Some of this is healthy: We seek balance. But some of us shoot way beyond the mark, and instead of balance we emerge with an incredible debt of stress and stressors. Pushing yourself to be an extravert in some context can leave you with one heck of a big introversion problem on your hands, even if you are an INTJ.

So: When you solicit feedback, see if you can use a mental model (like a personality type model) to help you measure and lend that feedback a proper amount of gravity, or no gravity at all. I find most of the personality type models, from MBTI to the Enneagram to Socionics to Temperament and Interaction Styles to DISC, are very helpful with this.

Conclusion

That’s all for now. Get in touch if you want to talk more! The customized advice is always better, but I hope this article has been helpful.

"Livingry" and Building Technological Leverage to Change the World

Tuesday June 19, 2018

Buckminster Fuller’s works have always been a favorite of mine. Fuller coined the term “livingry,” when describing a high-leverage method “to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”

“This new family of artifacts leading to such comprehensive human success I identified as livingry in contradistinction to politics’ weaponry. I called it technologically reforming the environment instead of trying politically to reform the people.”

—Buckminster Fuller, Grunch of Giants

Personality type, and especially Jung’s cognitive functions, give us a much wider lens on the concept of “technology” than the common folk definition—much of which even today echoes the old idea of the useful arts. Technology, when analyzed and zoomed in upon, includes a wide range of even intangible products that may never see a physical manifestation. Foucault’s Technologies of the Self is one example of a lens on that portion of technology. Models like Foucault’s are helping humans construct a more nuanced (read: educated) view of what “technology” actually means.

In what might be called a “unified” cognitive function model, (thanks to Richard Owen for the wording advisement there) all humans continually gain leverage by the creation of technology. The seeds and keys to design are built into all of us. Of course, there are multiple differentiating angles on this, including:

  • The type of technological leverage that benefits a given individual (of a given personality type, for example)
  • Duration of leverage for that individual, or for the group
  • Other questions of time: Periodicity, etc.
  • Depth of meta-technological perception: Do I know I’m creating technology?
  • Depth of refinement of a given technology
  • Level of engagement with technology as a sought outcome vs. other aspects of humanity, given an individual or group’s needs or education level

We humans can be described as fractals of information metabolism and each of us, just like the various fractal orientations and perturbations of a given fractal set, seem to contain certain prominent fractal features that can be described as “the portion of our lives representing energy spent on the development of technology.”

At a high level, like any other portion of the fractal, this technological portion of the human fractal is concerned with the interplay of combinations of personal and social judgment (Fi, Fe, Ti, Te) with combinations of personal and shared or socially-bonded perception functions (Si, Se, Ni, Ne). But still, this technology-designing feature of our fractal existence has a form to it. That form is typically shaped by Ti in large part, but zoom in or out a bit and all of the other functions are seen operating at lower or higher frequencies with a different amplitude.

The more refined a technology becomes, the more it adapts from e.g. “mostly Se leading to Ti as I figure out a way to catch this greased pig” to a more balanced product of the refining process to which other functions contribute. It gains inputs and outputs for all of the functions, so to speak, or it finds its way into a chain of technologies with other levels of connection to specific human systems. If you have to catch a greased pig every day, perhaps you begin to develop a more nuanced method that could be said to leverage functions like Fi and Ni in order to build a more sustainable approach.

A good human technology, or we might say “good livingry” can withstand this kind of filling-out. The technology curve is at one level an “observation,” but at another level it’s a template, or a “suggestion”: Nurture human technology such that even “laggards” (what a poor word to use) find themselves adopting it, even if it was controversial in the past. Personality theories of relation and information metabolism, like Socionics and spin-off Cognietrics provide leverage which could possibly be adapted toward the enhancement of information flow and adoption regarding new technology. For example, Buckminster Fuller had a bit of a novelty problem—could a knowledge of the refinement and winnowing-down aspect of a function like Ni have helped him, or helped others around him to make more educated decisions that would allow for “primed adoption” of his new technologies?

When we compare the concept of technology to the concept of human nature (which, for the most part is stubborn and only seems to change over time given applications of technology), and add aspects of personality technology, I think that we, in a mindset similar to that of Buckminster Fuller, will reasonably conclude that:

- Technology is a key driver for human evolution
- It’s a built-in feature of the human system—“all are susceptible to its charms”
- Technology doesn’t need to be a physical product, or even software. Technology can even be a simple, mentally-held framework
- It becomes more effective the easier it is for humans of different backgrounds to adopt
- And for heaven’s sake, it doesn’t naturally result in Skynet except in some balanced-against-another-amazingly-good-technology form, as any human product would

Bringing this back to INTJs: As a group, we get a lot of positive, motivating energy from the development of technology. Pursuing technology with a nuanced, analytical view that allows for adaptation as a crucial aspect of adoption (fitting our product to humanity instead of forcing it), perhaps we really can help change the world.

Updates to the Coaching Site

Thursday June 14, 2018

My coaching website is structured behind the scenes to become a monster of links and resources and resources with links over time, but for now I’m squeezing in little updates here and there when I can. Here are some recent additions, for those who are considering coaching:

If you find my blog useful, you’ll really, really benefit from the experience of live coaching. Or so I’m told.

Plus, the summer months are a fantastic time to work on yourself, maybe get that body you always wanted through some guided focus on your INTJ strengths. (I started writing that as a joke, but it actually worked for me …hmm.)

Locked-up Procrastination, Fear, and the Power of Intuition

Thursday June 14, 2018

I once attended a meeting where I anticipated that I would be asked to provide proof that I had done a bunch of things or updates on the status of those things. The experience turned into an fascinating interaction with intuition, and I thought I’d share it for INTJs who are learning what they might expect from their #1 gift.

To add some context, INTJs are traditionally brittle around the topic of “doing things.” We are really, really good thinkers. If someone asks us to think about something, to help them strategize, or to consult them on a topic—we can get super good at that. But “doing things” in the sensory realm is different. For example, we may find that we are only good at doing those things in certain times, or places, but that we procrastinate them a lot in general. In fact, learning to accept the fact that “not doing things” will figure into our lives somehow, doing what we can about that, and meanwhile investing more time in improvements to our “system of thinking about things” is one example of mature INTJ behavior.

In this case, I had had fallen far short of my (unreasonably) high standards for doing things. I was seized by the fear that I would walk into the meeting to a room full of completely annoyed people, because most of what I should have done was not yet done.

And here’s the worst part: Even though I had three days left until the meeting, I could not force myself to work on the project. While it was true that I was procrastinating, procrastination just didn’t feel like a helpful word to describe what was happening. It felt like the cosmos itself had tied my hands—like things really were out of my control. Have you ever felt that way? It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and can raise anxiety levels through the roof.

As a way of easing myself into a frame of mind where I could work on the problem, I did a little intuition exercise. I imagined that my office door opened, and some imaginary person came in to talk to me about the situation. I had been doing this exercise occasionally for years at that point, and knew that I had to keep my mind open and just accept the imagery with the intent of analyzing it metaphorically. Usually I learned something really helpful from the archetype of the person walking through the door or the mood or mindset they brought with them.

Well, here’s what happened: My office door opened in my mind’s eye, and I watched Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C3PO, and Princess Leia walk through the door. They were smiling and carrying…a birthday cake! To me! I laughed out loud. What was this? What could that possibly have to do with my work and this upcoming meeting?

As much as my ego didn’t want to accept it, as weird as it was, I kicked the experience around in my mind all day. At the end of the day I told my wife: “This is a really weird intuitive thing, but you know that meeting? I have this intuitive sense that not only am I not in any trouble, but things are going to go super well.” I felt (and still feel) amazing when I think about the imagery, and I think that was kind of the point of the intuition.

Still, I don’t know about you, but faced with concrete facts like “the work is not done, and these people really need it done, and they themselves are good at getting things done” on the one hand, and strange intuitions involving Star Wars characters and birthday cakes on the other hand, I know I tend to feel more comfortable with the concrete side. So trusting this intuition was extremely difficult and I doubted myself all the way to the meeting, though I had to admit it did make me feel a lot better.

When I arrived—I kid you not—the meeting atmosphere was more like a party. We laughed, we made plans, and not a thing was said about the status of my work. People still cared, but not in this context. So: I got the reset I needed and went on to do the work. And I analyzed the people involved and their psychological incentives, and realized why joking and having fun worked so well for us as a team. And on top of everything else, I had this fantastic bonus Star Wars birthday cake experience which has taught me to be a little bit more attentive to the gift of intuition.

And of course, this is really unscientific, but...

Wednesday June 13, 2018

INTJs can be really, really uncomfortable when it comes to the realm of scientific thought. We are alternately excited by it and agitated by it. Let me explain what I mean:

On the one hand, we generally love science and think more science should be done. By science, we usually refer to measurement. When something does a measurable good, or when a measuring group (scientists) identify a measurable good, that excites us. We hope to label it: Scientific, evidence-based.

On the other hand, when there’s a possibility that the idea or theory in question no longer measures up to current standards, we can be amazingly quick to trash the idea or theory, with this weird extra emphasis on top. This is even true when we have no idea what the actual situation is, or who the actual people are who took the measurements, or how they took the measurements. We practically jump out of our chairs to label it: Unscientific, unfalsifiable, etc.

I watched a Youtube video recently in which the INTJ video creator excused himself for referring to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, calling it “good old crappy 1960s garbage psychology.” The creator of the video went on to show how the hierarchy concept actually helped him navigate a difficult period in his life. So why call it garbage?

This kind of self-excusing is familiar to me—I’ve seen it before in INTJs who anticipate difficult feedback from other smart people, for example. But Maslow’s hierarchy is an extremely useful model in any number of situations. There’s really no reason to call it garbage, and I say that even after reading through remarks by its critics.

But, the thinking goes like this: It’s old, and maybe it’s garbage, so here we go—just in case someone thinks I’m not scientific, which would be the ultimate caught-pants-down situation, let’s label it “garbage psychology.”

We INTJs can benefit by being aware of this kind of thinking; it’s immature, as is most any perception-judgment process that results in such black and white terms. Those who have a more mature view of science seem to recognize it as more of a yin-yang of subjectivity & objectivity than some kind of “someone else’s thinking might be more right than my own, and I’d hate that” measuring contest.

We also have much bigger blind spots to worry about, one example being extraverted feeling, the blind spot most of us would rather ignore.

(And of course, this post may be unscientific…but is that really a problem?)

Overcoming Procrastination by Replacing it with Helpful Phrases

Tuesday June 12, 2018

In my experience, “procrastination” is almost always a poor word to use in describing a productivity problem. It’s a word that many of us fear, and for good reason. Once you say it, you reinforce feelings of failure, lowering your energy levels further and potentially putting your goals in jeopardy. Your estimation of your skill level goes down, and with it, your mood will tend to drop as well.

To assist, here are some replacement phrases that can help diagnose actual problems and otherwise provide some problem-solving energy.

To use these phrases, start writing or talking about your procrastinated activity, and replace the word “procrastination” with one or more of the phrases below. As an advanced exercise, you could work your way through all of the phrases, writing about how the phrase applies or does not apply to the current problem.

General:

  • “Delayed action on activity X”
  • “Inappropriate timing issue with activity X”
  • “No identifiable point of leverage at the current stopping point on activity X”
  • “No existing breakdown of activity X that would help me identify problem points and non-problem points.”
  • “No breakdown of activity X into its more easily-handled component parts.”

Metaphorical:

  • “Missing pieces with regard to the resolution of activity X”
  • “Part of the mapped trail has disappeared en route to the summit of X Mountain”
  • “An insurmountable black monolith has appeared along my journey toward X.”
  • “Activity X is now a labyrinth, and I am unable to make myself continue after turning the first few corners.*
  • “The symbolic image that comes to mind when I think about activity X is…”

(Note: You may find it helpful to solve these metaphorically first—for example, name some things you could you do if stuck inside a labyrinth)

External:

  • “No outside help on activity X”
  • “No instruction booklet to tell me what to do at this juncture on activity X”
  • “Circumstances aren’t right to finish activity X”
  • “Activity X cannot be completed in this kind of environment”
  • “I need to know what people do when confronted by what feels like an insurmountable pause in completing an activity like X.”

Internal:

  • “I lack the psychological energy to do what it takes to finish activity X”
  • “I am inefficient in my thinking and acting toward activity X”
  • “I am not interested in finishing activity X”
  • “I really don’t feel like finishing activity X right now”
  • “I doubt I’ll ever feel like finishing activity X—it’s not really ‘me’”
  • “I’m in some kind of repeating pattern that always happens with activities like X”
  • “Activity X requires skills I would like to think I have, but don’t really have lots of patience for (example: Sorting lots of details).”

(It can sometimes help to use the external questions to follow up on internal questions, and vice-versa.)

If one of these phrases seems to help you, immediately pursue that line of thinking and feel free to abandon the other phrases, or come back later as needed.

If none of these phrases seems to help you, and if other frameworks don’t seem to help either, you may wish to consult your intuition on the matter or otherwise try to figure out if your psychology knows something about the situation that you don’t.

Control Types: Broad and Deep

Monday June 11, 2018

I’m wrapping up a successful cut currently, so here is a weight loss tidbit: A meta-key for unlocking my best weight loss experiences seems to be controlling my anxiety levels concerning a broad assortment of things, as opposed to deeply-focused control. This seems to have some ramifications for the kind of control I need in life in general. I’ll explain:

After I identified my INTJ-ness, and thereafter my gift for structure, for some time I thought that having a deeply-controlled plan would make me more successful in my weight loss. In practice, this seems to increase my troubles. For example, keeping a detailed spreadsheet and log is nice, but I’m a bit more likely to give that up due to the depth of complexity. It is simply more to do, on top of everything else in the day. And when I give that up, I’m more likely to despair and either stall out or actually gain weight.

What seems to work in practice is the following: Instead of a deeply-controlled weight loss plan, I’m better off planning for a broadly-controlled life. Instead of spending 30 minutes planning my diet, calorie allocations, macros, fitness plan, and schedule, I’ll spend 5 minutes on my calorie allocation/schedule for the day, 10 minutes free-writing about the problems I need to solve in my life in general, and 15 minutes putting those into order: Questions of work projects, recreation, family needs, errands, and so on. It helps even more if I can do this the night before it’s all needed, or early in the morning of the day itself.

This broad control seems to be enough to allow an intuitive weight control pattern to settle in. I can then successfully rely on just a little bit of diet structure and still meet my goals. This structure-light approach is supported by a more broadly-structured life, which acts as a weight loss key.

Anxiety is normal, and if you’re normal you should feel some anxiety on a daily basis. A to-do list item is an example of a stressor. In my experience it is wise to attend to the big picture of these stressors in order to successfully complete goals, as an INTJ. And I say that as someone who has failed at diet plans literally hundreds of times. (Fortunately, I’ve succeeded enough that I feel comfortable giving diet advice to others.)

I don’t really want to have to mention it, but I feel like I should add that concerns of control are normal and healthy for INTJs. While nuance and flexibility are incredibly important, I can’t agree with blanket statements like “INTJs need to loosen up and be less controlling,” for example. A better question, like ‘how much, and what kind of control is necessary in my life at a minimum’ can empower INTJs to achieve great things, while building in allowances for more relaxed and less life-controlling behaviors. Everyone needs to feel like they’re in control, it’s a scientifically-measured key to a happy mindset, and exploring one’s own “happy life” control levels is a highly recommended activity.

Managing effective sleep seems to make me a better INTJ

Monday June 11, 2018

“Other people have big problems. But I don’t really have any big problems. Isn’t that amazing? I’m doing pretty well!”

This was one of my first thoughts after waking up from a nap yesterday.

It was funny, because of course I do have big problems to work on, just like anybody else. But that optimistic expression is representative of the way sleep helps me. In the tradition of extraverted thinking, I’ve been taking measurements and refining my measuring systems. And sleep is right up there at the top of my focus chart right now, when it comes to measuring things.

“I took a nap and otherwise took care of my need for rest during the day” is a first measurement. Not at all, somewhat, or “yes. definitely”.

“I went to bed on time or early, so that I got at least five 90-minute sleep cycles” is another one. Not at all, somewhat, or “yes, definitely.”

If you’re an INTJ and you’re getting six sleep cycles consistently, that’s pretty awesome. I can’t do that all the time, but when I do, the next day has a really good chance of not interfering with my life plans.

When I’m well-rested, it’s like my intuition becomes much more reasonable to work with. It’s hopeful about things. As a result, I can extravert myself more easily: I can open my mind to tasks on my to-do list, describe them, set boundaries around them and categorize them, describe the time and effort taken, and refer to frameworks to gain additional leverage.

When I’m not well-rested, I easily fall into traps like thinking that the world is against me, I’ll never reach my goals, etc. My intuition goes straight toward “nothing here will turn out well at all” and I have little energy to spend on the completion of medium- to difficult-level tasks.

Managing good sleep can be extremely difficult. For example, if a really hard problem comes up, there’s no getting around it—getting to sleep will be that much harder. In cases where sleep is impossible, I do find (and it appears that other researchers have also found) that meditation can bring close to a similar result. Guided meditations are sometimes really nice, as they provide structure and allow focus to be pulled away from the stressful object.

In order to get the best sleep possible, focusing on breathing seems to help me. Long exhaling, and not as long on inhaling. I can also get an extra boost from a “comfort intuition,” like a vague sense of a place and time and atmosphere that gives me comfort. For example, the sense of sunlight warming the leather upholstery inside a car on a spring day. (These are incredibly subjective, based on past experience, so I’m sorry if that gives you choking asthma or something) It’s not really that easy to describe and there may be some other weird stuff in there, like a smell I can’t quite detect, or some other scene from a TV show overlaid on top.

After a nap I get the sense that I only have so much time before I run low on doing-things energy. It’s not really an urgent feeling, but more like a feeling of intellectual readiness. So it’s naturally easy to prioritize and make smarter choices. I also get the sense that no matter what I do, things will be OK. Those two thoughts are interesting, when juxtaposed: I need to make smart choices, and I’ll probably be able to pull it off.

Another factor I’ve measured: Sometimes I’ll wake up and feel grumpy or experience a headache, or otherwise feel not-so-good. It’s been my experience that going back to sleep for a little while or just staying in bed and relaxing longer can quickly reverse that.

Finally, sleep is a “taking care of me” activity. It requires attention to one’s feelings and body sensations. I don’t believe it’s going to be naturally easy for INTJs by a long shot. As usual, you may be nodding your head through this one because you know the theory, but putting it into practice is another thing entirely. My advice if you’re having that issue is to develop your own sleep science—measure your experience, develop your own theories, and see what works for you. Even if it’s the same thing others have experienced, it’ll be yours and there’s a lot of evidence that such an introverted approach will give you, the introvert, more interest and motivation to follow through.

This is Random: I Made A Dungeon-crawl Role-playing Game

Wednesday June 6, 2018

Just for fun I made a free d20 role-playing game. A lot of us like this kind of thing, so I thought I would mention it here—it should be pretty INTJ-friendly. :-)

If you try it, let me know what you think! It has been fun to design and test. And if you defeat more than three dragons as a tourist—be sure to write me about it.

I should also mention that INTJ Dario Nardi’s RPG, Radiance, is free in PDF form and really amazing—even just browsing it for art and story is interesting.

I'm so big-picture that...

Wednesday May 23, 2018

…it helps me to look at myself as a player-character in a role-playing game.

I am obligated to write this post since I was reviewing my midlife crisis finances and realized I’ve spent almost $400 on RPG books in recent years. Holy cow.

That amount is probably nothing to the neckbeards who are really into RPGs, but it made me realize: Now is probably a good time to examine the hobby as a metaphor and figure out what my subconscious wants from all this. Why the interest in RPGs? It’s not like I have read every RPG book I own cover to cover, after all. It’s something else.

Here are some principles I’ve learned as I’ve used metaphor to analyze the interest:

Life is a game. Try to enjoy life the same way you would enjoy a game night. Games simply echo various facets of life. And games are meant to be fun! Imagine what you want to happen and push for it. Make a point of enjoying your encounters, and planning enjoyable things. Ask yourself frequently: “Am I enjoying this?” (This is a big one. One of the things I do is help people find ways to enjoy life again)

Pay attention to Character Design. It helps if you can describe yourself, your character, your gifts, your background, your interests. Usually there are hidden leverage points here. Also, look at the types of RPG characters you enjoy playing. If you love playing James Bond, perhaps you could gain more leverage over your troubles if you were to become more suave, sneaky, clever, or smart. Maybe you need to take more risk and have more courage. If you love playing a Japanese cyberpunk girl from 2092, maybe you need to embrace femininity (be more self-forgiving, more naturally you, have more fun) and find more enjoyment in life while leveraging technology that can help you do what you need to do.

Emphasize the use of your unique gifts. People who spread their skill points across too many categories end up really suffering during the game. If your skill points are mostly allocated to Intelligence, you may wish to add points to other categories, but that also means you should use your intelligence as much as possible. If you’re a great researcher, make sure that every big problem you solve maximizes the use of that gift.

Know who your friends are and let them help you. You can’t do everything by yourself. When a friend uses their skills to help you, make a point of using your skills to help them. If you understand personality type, you can also invite friends to learn how to use gifts they haven’t really discovered yet. This can be a win-win, as your friends learn how to help themselves while also helping you with gifts that they possess.

Describe people you encounter. Based on the descriptions you produced, how would you interact with them in an RPG? It can really help to describe the people around you in this way, and while I haven’t tried it, making up a character sheet for them could be a really useful exercise.

Be a GM (game master). Observe and narrate the game. Describe what’s happening and explain the choices that need to be made. This is a good way to get around any intuitions which may be clouding your ability to make objective judgments.

Be a GD (game designer). Look for “the game” within your daily plans and situations. Identify it. Explain the principles, like what characters need to do in order to succeed, or where the risky, difficult areas are. Explain what makes a character fail. Explain what makes a character win—is it a single goal, or are there differing goals based on the characters that are playing?

Don’t get too meta. While you may be a game master or game designer, you’ll also need to actually play as a character in the game of life. Get in the game and be an active participant. Make an impact.

Be clever. Play the game for what it is. Don’t play every scenario the same way—analyze each individual scenario, look for leverage points, and take advantage of them. Make observations and act on those observations in a logical way.

Understand how far your character has come. Make a note of ways in which you have leveled up in the past. A list of milestones can really help.

Related interests

  • World-building
  • Probability
  • Game theory
  • Simulation
  • Narrative fiction
  • Storytelling
  • CYOA books
  • Game books and board games
  • Game development

In Conclusion

Did it help you? I hope so—this has been an instructive exercise for me.

To wrap things up, here’s a brief exercise:

Describe yourself as an RPG character. Now walk that character through their day. What do they need do in order to make the most of the day? Is it super difficult stuff—a high-risk dice roll, like a -5 modifier on a d20 roll? How will you manage and contingency-plan around the risk?

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