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Thoughts on Turning 40 as an INTJ

Wednesday May 9, 2018

So I’ll be turning 40 this weekend, and I wanted to share a few reflections on that.

1. Things aren’t…that…bad…? Pretty good actually!

I’ve aged a bit and have paid for it (see health concerns, below). That part does suck a little bit.

But overall: I am stronger now than I’ve ever been, which is a funny surprise. I couldn’t do a pull-up at all from ages 20 to 37. Now I can do lots of pull-ups; my record is 15. If you’re still in your twenties and in good shape, imagine yourself in even better shape at 40, but perhaps with a few body parts which which you’re gentler, like your knees or shoulders. You do lower-impact exercises on those joints, and again, overall, you’re better off than you were.

I also used to be obese; now I’m not. In my teens and 20s I took a “bulk up” mentality too far. When I changed activities over time, I didn’t really change my diet to fit. I was also hurt a bit by the INTJ tendency to be suspicious about new information, like diets to try, things like that. I’m more open-minded now and that seems to help. In my coaching practice I notice that INTJs sometimes believe a bit too strongly in “where I’ve been is where you need to go.” Favoritism toward one’s own past experiences. That usually needs to be balanced a bit with more openness.

I’m also wiser than I’ve ever been, in some ways. As one example, I don’t try to switch into “productivity mode” so much as slide into it. If I return from a meeting I give myself more down time and will actually lay down on the couch and watch YouTube or browse Wikipedia for a while until I feel rested enough that I can easily bring my mind around to more productivity. Forced, enjoyable rest at increased intervals seems to have been one missing key in the productivity systems of my younger years.

As a second example, I waste less of my time on things that frustrate me, because I analyze the things I do and learn more lessons from them. Is this an activity that will push me to stretch my type? Is it an activity that uses my gifts? And so on. When I was younger, I would have also said I did at least some of that. However, I give more of my attention to that meta-contextual process now than I did before. Overall, the wisdom thing sounds easier than it is and I still have a lot of room to grow here.

I definitely have more energy than I’ve ever had before. This is what I’d call “psychological energy,” as opposed to e.g. physical stamina, though I’m sure they’re related. Watch this video with Dario Nardi and observe his general energy levels; that’s more of the kind of INTJ energy I’m talking about. I’m more open-minded, less of a critic, more interested in things, I’m doing productive work at a sustainable pace, and the world is looking like a more interesting place to me now than it ever has. More on this below.

I have a lot of room to grow in all of these areas, but you can see my reasoning: Turning 40 is accompanied by more of a “yes, more of this please” feeling than a “no, I don’t want to grow older” feeling.

2. Health concerns occupy more of my attention

I have a couple of health conditions that weren’t even on my radar 10 years ago. At times this has been very stressful. However, I’ve learned to attack these stressors directly and track my progress in dealing with them. This has been very helpful. I have learned to use my extraverted tools to ask others for help and information when needed, too.

I’m sure this area will require more of my attention as I grow older. It’s kind of annoying in that way, sure. However I can also see that it will be more annoying to watch others basically end their lives early, for lack of attention to their health. This has already happened to several of my friends who have passed away.

3. Family and friend concerns are much more important to me

I have more concerns about family and friends (and clients, etc.) than I ever had in the past. For example, I want to make sure that my children receive education that is fair to their weaknesses and emphatic regarding their strengths. I want to make family members feel more comfortable being related to me, and help them feel more secure in their relationship with me. I want to bring out and help them show their best side without putting any uncomfortable pressure on them. I’m growing older along with my five siblings, I love them all, and even though we’re an incredibly diverse family by our psychology, I wouldn’t want to die with them feeling actively hurt by me.

Fortunately, thanks to my experience with personality type, I feel more capable of dealing with those concerns. I’m still quiet and make judicial use of communications media (lol) but I feel like I’m doing better than I ever have before.

Recently, when a family member who is decidedly unbalanced tried to get me to respond emotionally to some negative behavior they directed toward me, I was able to step back, look at the situation from multiple vantage points, discuss it with friends, ask for their input, and decide on an appropriate way to respond with a more nuanced style. As a younger person that just wasn’t my way of doing things—I was much more open with my criticism and I can see that this simply exacerbated problems in relationships that weren’t ever going to be BFF situations in the first place.

Overall: I’m having fun and solving problems

I’m not really that old—40 is not far advanced along the aging spectrum these days. I see sixty and eighty-year-olds who look amazingly youthful. And I think I’m getting a little bit of a glimpse of what it’s like for them. I can tell I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m learning to have more fun and enjoy life.

I bought my first set of Pokemon cards recently. I also bought some RPG sourcebooks and play more RPGs with my kids. I collect toy cars, love watching fun movies, and I listen to upbeat music while tracking satellites and the International Space Station. A few weeks ago I provided radio communications for an ultramarathon in a rural area. Tomorrow I’m going to help get a medical center on the air for a ham radio drill to assist with community needs during (upcoming) wildfires.

This is all fun stuff. Life is supposed to be fun.

Oh, and I wrote a book, too! Give it a look if you haven’t already; link’s in the sidebar.

Well, that’s it for me. If you’re older, or younger, what have you learned so far? Any big insights? Let me know!

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