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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.

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