For those who are interested in Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicators, it is a curse of the INTP that we start things but just can’t quite get them done unless the stakes are pretty high, or we don’t have a way out. For example, we may have a project at work or a commitment to people and we’ll do it. Begrudgingly. But it will get done. However, there are other things, more personal goals that we just can’t seem to get done. For example, I’m writing a book. Well, four books actually, all very different. One of them I have been working on for the best part of 15 to 20 years. I have the outline, I know the way the story will go, I am maybe a quarter of the way through it. I just can’t quite seem to get to it enough to make it happen and end it. On the other side, today I looked at my dissertation prospectus proposal and almost fell over when I saw what was needed – it makes me wonder how much work the dissertation will be.
I can’t be the only one, and it can’t only be INTPs who live with this constant battle between wanting to achieve things, be creative, and procrastinate all at the same time. Can I? A friend of mine, who must be under some illusion that I have my crap together asked me if I would help him with some similar goals. I have a framework for how this will go. I have a structure, and unlike my books, this will happen. Why? Because I made a commitment to someone I would do this, I like the guy, and I want to help him. It’s not even begrudgingly because I am privileged he asked me, and this is the kind of stuff I truly enjoy doing. I will probably get more out of it than he will in truth.
So what can be done? It seems to me there are two approaches that can be taken. One from conventional wisdom and coaching practices, and the other from neurolinguistic programming (NLP). Ok, let’s talk about that first. NLP is on paper the cheesiest and flakiest kind of psychology you can imagine. Really. It’s completely without scientific merit (at least as we understand science today), and in truth, on first look I would even say it is risky putting it in the realm of psychology. However… it gets results. I first heard about it a few years ago and decided it was flaky garbage and had no place in the world. I maintained this position until I read Mental Mastery by Ken Way, the sport psychologist behind Leicester City’s Premier League winning season. As I was reading, and researching what he wrote I discovered the brain is a lot more powerful than we could ever imagine. Go get the book to learn more, you won’t regret it. However, what I will say is that like any theory or psychological approach I believe there is a place for it. I would not personally recommend it for people who have clinical or psychiatric disorders, this is best left to fully qualified people in the psychological field. I would however recommend it for people who are able to motivate and achieve things, but can’t seem to motivate enough to hit personal goals. I also wonder if in years to come whether the research may follow the results.
So NLP is one approach, and the other is accountability. The thing I love about NLP (and for all I said about it, I really do love it) is that it encourages you to see your goal happen. One of my favourite “tricks” is to think about where you want to be. Now imagine it in your mind, what’s it like? How does the achievement feel? Now map your path backwards from that place to today and examine the path you took to get there. Now walk that path. Seems easy. In essence, it is – you just created the path you have to take, now all you need to do is walk it. This is where the second part comes in. You know when your friends post on Twitter how they ran 4 billion miles before breakfast, or when they update you with “Off to *insert crazy exercise thing here* tonight #feeltheburn” – it’s not so you know about it (well, for some of them it may be), it’s because they feel a level of accountability by making it public. There is a wealth of research to show that people who go to the gym or commit to diets together see increased success levels over those who go it alone.
So, fellow INTPs and others who just can’t quite seem to get it together, here’s your mission:
1 – Think about where it is you want to be. What does it feel like? What are the differences in life between now and then? What sacrifices did you have to make? How long did it take? What steps did you have to take? What were the first few steps you took? Think about all these things in reverse, then walk the path in real life.
2 – Find an accountability partner (or drive your social media friends nuts). Either way, don’t keep it to yourself. Make commitments and don’t be afraid of them. Let people know how you are doing, and inspire others. I have a couple of friends on facebook who have changed their lives in amazing ways, inspiring others, and truly walking a whole different path to the one they were on. You can do this too – find your path and walk it.
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