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Some More Reader Questions: Mysterious Blog Productivity, Family Relations

Wednesday May 1, 2019

E. writes:

Thank you for writing your blog posts. Lots of them have been practical (eg journal template, music suggestions, media links).

Nice work with the journal! I’m glad the blog has been helpful.

A comment: You appear to be in a 30 day challenge for writing daily on your blog. Am I right?

Not only no, but unfortunately I should probably emphasize that with a “hell no”, E., given the actual circumstances. :-) Sorry to be hyperbolic. Not that I’m against 30-day challenges, but here’s what you’re seeing.

My day-to-day coaching and web development businesses are like this lately:

Just a lot of activity. A lot of stuff to sort out. Problems to solve, deadlines to meet, and people to help. Maybe a few actual aliens to kill, or at least a few big spiders in the house. I wish those guys would stay out!

So the blog is my blowoff valve, and really—and I feel like a lot of you will understand this—my side-productivity gig, the thing that gives me a nice break to talk about whatever feels good and interesting as an INTJ.

As a coach I feel like it’s important for me to see it for what it is. Otherwise I tell my clients, “oh hey, did you read [productivity book]? It’s so freaking great” even though I woke up this morning and procrastinated 3 hours away just like the pre-productivity-book self would.

I’m considering urging most INTJs to treat productivity research as a hobby—that’s another finding. You can’t stop us from kicking our own kind of ass when it’s time, but we do kind of torture ourselves in between those times, thinking of ourselves as lazy, which isn’t true at all. The 3-hour procrastination session is often just one’s own body screaming for rest.

Speaking of 30-day challenges, I’ve tried the X-Effect before, and you know what I found? It was funny. I kept making those damn cards, man. Pretty soon I had this ideal of reaching like 10 x’s a day. I might try it again sometime, but I found it really hard to throw all my money in the “change your clothes daily” pile, or whatever it is I’m lagging at.

E. continues:

Also, I was wondering if you may write about the dynamics of your relationship with your wife? For example, maybe talk about her MBTI type, how you guys communicate, your frustrations and how you cope, etc.

I think I’ve mentioned this before but maybe not! My wife is a beautiful ISFJ. The dynamics seem to get better every year! I like that dynamic. We have gone through a lot of difficult experiences together—the loss of twin girls at birth, a wearying adoption process with a couple of near-adoptions, the traumatic birth of my ISFJ son, and more. So it feels like we have grown together a lot in this sense that transcends type: The shared experience, in which many of our perceptions are intertwined.

We also have a pretty vibrant life lately. Megan is very active. She works with refugees and arranges trips to gather their stories with the storytelling team at TSOS Refugees, an international refugee non-profit which recently published a very impressive book.

Even more undeservedly on my part, Megan is a REALLY good cook. She learned how to make pasta and pizza from a gracious Italian mamma while living in Italy. And she will try making my favorite Japanese food even though it’s not really part of her own past, but then she wont stop—she’ll theorize how to make it better next time, and the time after that! It’s awesome.

Plus she runs marathons, she’s really into helping with local school and community efforts, and she actually likes taking day-to-day productivity stuff off my plate, which is very helpful.

I am not sure what I give in return, but she likes that I’m a coach and refers clients my way all the time. She’s way more socially adept than I am in the “somehow remembers to maintain friendships” way.

My kids: ISTP son, 9, ISFJ son, 8, and ENFP daughter, 6. I watch Doctor Who nightly with my sons before bed. They remember stuff about that show wayyyy better than I do. And they tell me some seriously funny stuff sometimes. One of my favorite things is hearing them laugh about something they read in a book, or something somebody said at school.

My daughter, well, she’s just a cutie. She likes to write sweet cards with those little ENFP-Fi caveats, like “Dear Mom and Dad, I love you both, even when you get mad at me.” In that way I’m glad I know about personality type, or I’d probably be like, “CAN YOU NOT JUST WRITE A CARD THAT’S 100% NICE.” We laugh about it though.

The kids come out to my office and play every couple of days, when I leave my office door open. We’ll play a few rounds of golf on the computer, or have a dance party, or talk about their friends at school.

Our most recent family purchase is a putter, some golf balls, and an indoor putting hole. We are attempting to get ISTP trying some more introvert friendly sports because he’s really introverted and yet athletically gifted. He’s also amazing at video games. Fortunately I helped a client’s son get a full-ride e-sports scholarship, so ISFJ trusts me with the job of making sure his video game play doesn’t just mean lazy stuff. Which is what it totally looks like, but his brain is whirring the entire time.

Communication

We communicate really well just hanging out and chatting. It’s fun to send articles and memes back and forth. It’s a little bit harder to communicate on projects together when there’s something on the line, like an important deadline. In those cases we both have our “own way” of doing a thing, so it’s really important to watch that we don’t exclude the other by snapping back to only our own way. A quirk of the Je (extraverted judgment; Te-Fi/Fe-Ti) personality combination. We each have to be patient with the other’s dominant process sometimes as well.

Frustrations

OK, an example. With an ISFJ, part of the game of life can be something like “schedule Tetris.” I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the way ISFJs naturally do this Tetris thing with their Ti, but not only can they be REALLY good at the video game, they are (I should really say they can be because I don’t mean to paint every ISFJ with that brush) good at things like loading moving trucks, packing up boxes, etc. Like, amazingly good—no space wasted. The same goes for a schedule, or a block of time to fill.

So when you go on vacation as an INTJ and you’re thinking “ahhh, relaxation,” you better run that by the ISFJ because vacation often means doing things together and “gosh I sure hope you’re OK if we visit friends A, B, and C while we tour this distant and foreign continent? I promise we will do things you want to do in between.” When actually, watching entire days float by is probably one of my favorite vacation activities, period.

So, I find that one really helpful thing is to not get run over by all this. Right? I don’t want to feel really pouty at the end of the day because not only did I let it float by, but all of the stuff we did involved connecting with Facebook friends. So I’ve learned that I need to be a good J-personality and let her know that I’m doing this or that tomorrow, and then asking her to help me figure out how we can each do what we want. She wants me to enjoy the vacation, too.

It’s really a Fi-Ti sort of concern: Figuring out the kind of activity you value, and setting a boundary: OK, we’ll do your stuff too, but I want to do my stuff in there somewhere. So let’s figure it out: Can it work? For a long time I acted as if “being a good husband” meant “just let her do her stuff” but that didn’t help at all. And being a coach, I know how important it is to do stuff that is meaningful to you. As an INTJ-T, always open to change and learning, unfortunately one of the traps is that you get to be so perceptive that you can end up letting people walk over you. Megan never really did that, or wanted to do that, but I didn’t do anything to prevent it from inadvertently happening.

Does that help? That’s one thing. Like I said, there’s a lot. Sometimes even just knowing that while an ISFJ might be echoing your exact sentiments (a gift I envy in some ways!), they don’t necessarily agree—that alone can be really helpful. You might say, “man I hate yellow cars!” and they’re laughing with you, but then a couple days later you might also hear, “when you said you hated yellow cars, honestly that really made me feel angry inside. I’m sorry but I kind of still like them, BUT I also see what you mean.” This can happen—it’s not terribly logical, it’s not how INTJs prefer to operate, but it’s important to understand that it’s also part of being human.

Conclusion

I can always detect a little bit of sensitivity on the part of my INTJ clients when they talk about their family members’ personality types; maybe they’re afraid I’ll tell them they chose the wrong spouse, or whatever. But really, my philosophy is that your spouse reflects a part of you, and often a very aspirational part at that.

Knowing about personality type has overall been really great for our family.

Have a great day E.!

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