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Ham Radio as an INTJ Hobby

Tuesday November 28, 2017

I’ve always enjoyed listening to shortwave radio, reading about numbers stations, and so on. I looked up to people who knew how radio worked, and I enjoy planning projects that involve electronics. But I never thought I’d be a ham radio operator myself.

So why become one now? In recent years my mindset has shifted:

  • I now realize I get most leverage by doing INTJ things
  • It’s easier, and I get better results from doing that kind of thing
  • So let’s try more INTJ things.

I knew I was on to something with ham radio when I told my also-INTJ business coach about my new interest. He came back a month later and told me he was excited now, and was also studying to become an amateur radio operator! Bingo, one INTJ hobby identified and near-triangulated. (Depending on the area you pursue within the hobby, there are plenty of ISTPs, ISTJs, ESTJs, INTPs, ENTPs, and more, too…)

Now that I have my license, here are the results:

  • I find it easy to talk about ham radio
  • It’s been easy to find friends in the hobby, friends who are doing really cool stuff (Just yesterday I made friends with a guy who invited me over to his home observatory for some astronomy)
  • My interests within the hobby are shared by others within the hobby (it’s a very broad hobby). If I don’t care about talking on repeater nets all day and just want to learn more about AMSAT, it’s like an all-you-can-eat AMSAT buffet!
  • It doesn’t take much effort to start making plans for a really cool future ham shack. And some of them make even an awesome PC battlestation look boring.
  • People start inviting me to contribute, because I seem interested!
  • When I contribute back, it’s usually easy for me and very fun.

These activities within the hobby are very highly-INTJ-leverageable:

  • General research
  • Learning about the theory
  • Teaching and training, e.g. writing tutorials or making Youtube videos
  • Suggesting small technological fixes or changes that make a big impact
  • “Introvert” modes like CW (morse code) and QRP (low-power transmission; think going on a long hike with a morse code transceiver that fits in an Altoids tin, powered by a 9V battery)
  • Emcomm (Emergency communications, even though I’m not really into it)

These activities within the hobby seem less INTJ:

  • Rag-chewing (sitting on the air and talking with others)
  • Actually putting up antennas and towers and mucking with hardware all day (not that it can’t be done, it’s just very sensate and fiddly)
  • Contesting (I find this pretty annoying TBH even though I will probably try it just to make sure)
  • Club socializing and politics (have only heard about this; have yet to go to a club meeting)

So I’d recommend the hobby to other INTJs. You did that radio thing that one time, you enjoyed it, right? Give it a shot.

Oh and by the way, here’s my basic framework for approaching the hobby:

  • Don’t do the INTJ thing where you assume it sucks
  • Don’t do the INTJ thing where you assume you know what it’ll be like
  • Try things before you declare them unfit for your attention
  • Have fun, first and foremost
  • Plan out your approach and keep a log of how it’s going
    • For an example approach: Focus on (I)ntroverted, i(N)tuitive, (T)hinking, (J)udging parts of the hobby and stay away from e.g. ESFP improvised, sensory, unplanned performance ragchewing stuff.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of listening to complainers
  • Decide in advance the type of friends you’ll look for within the hobby
  • Build your own hobby-explorin’ website. Here’s mine. This was and continues to be very useful from day 1.

It’s a hobby, sure, but ya know…any truly sustainable INTJ hobby has got to respect that organized J side somehow, so why not plan things out?

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