Let’s continue riffing on Myers-Briggs. This time, we can explore the impact on “Introverts” and Extroverts” of transitioning beyond one’s long career.
The Myers-Briggs definition of an “E” (extrovert) is someone who is energized by being with other people. By contrast, an “I” (introvert) is someone for whom being around other people depletes energy.
Now, you may have in your head that en extrovert is a life-of-the-party, glad-handing, loud person. And you may have in your head that an introvert is somebody sitting at home with a book. For our purposes here, I’m talking about the definitions noted in the prior paragraph, not such societal stereotypes as may exist.
People are surprised when they learn that I am an “I”. This is because I’m gregarious, socially at ease, like to joke around, and so on. And it’s true that that’s all fun for me. It just uses up a lot of my energy. So after a certain amount of that sort of socializing, I need to go be by myself to recharge. I do this playing piano, riding my bike, eating lunch alone, going to museums, taking day trips, reading, and many other ways. And all of them are solo, because I am recharging.
“E”s have much more capacity to be with others — because it’s actually a source of energy. My wife is an “E” and it fascinates me that sometimes she’ll be tired and not wanting to do much, but then a friend calls, or a person stops by, or we run into someone we know. There’s lots of interaction and magically she’s full of life again — because the interaction recharged her batteries, so to speak.
When your long career is over, if you are an “I”, there’s suddenly a ton of alone time. It’s soooo refreshing. In fact, there’s about as much alone time as one could wish for! What a glorious change from interacting with people all day long. You may find the transition to a Tapas Life pretty easy, from this particular standpoint. Of course, you’ll still need to have enough social interaction, because being a hermit won’t likely be so good. Happily, you’ll be able to have just as much as you want/need, and no more.
But if you’re an “E”, you may find that your are just as suddenly devoid of human interaction, and therefore in a big energy deficit. For an “E”, action is needed to organize interaction. Get together with friends or old workmates for lunch. Join a volunteer organization and do some good while working with others. See who else is done with their long career so you can do stuff together. Put lots of social activity on the calendar. If you don’t, you’ll likely find yourself feeling marooned in a lonely place, and very low on your personal energy. Human interaction is something that during your long career almost surely happened automatically. And now it may well require significant effort.
Along with the difference in how life beyond one’s long career can feel to a “P” or a “J” (which I talked about in the last post), whether one is an “I” or an “E” can also have a profound effect on this transition. It’s a good idea to be mindful of these issues.
For completeness, I note that I won’t be talking about Myers-Briggs “N” vs “S” or “F” vs “T”, as it’s not obvious to me that these aspects will necessarily dictate any particular course of action for people completing their long career.
Myers-Briggs isn’t for everybody, perhaps, but I find it quite useful in our context.