by Bo Miller
Have you factored your introversion into your plans for the new year?
If you want to have your best year yet, you should spend some time pondering your unique wiring. It’s the key to leveraging your gifts, boosting your energy, and honoring your natural thought processes. To get you started, here are five suggestions.
1. Seize more alone time by waking up early.
Alone time is one thing every introvert could use more of. Are you getting enough of it?
A packed schedule is the biggest enemy of quiet time. Anyone who has a demanding job, a family, and outside commitments — or any combination of the three — knows how hard it is to squeeze in alone time. So how do you do it?
One way is to wake up early. If you want to start the day off right, get up before everyone else so that you can enjoy a block of uninterrupted quiet time. If you don’t think you can do it, I challenge you to give it a try. It’s amazing what going to bed an hour earlier and drinking a cup of coffee the next morning can do for you.
If, however, you’re completely opposed to early mornings, you can try staying up late instead. It’s quiet after everyone goes to bed, too. I have a friend who does most of his work between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. He knows he’s a night owl, and he makes the most of his alone time.
2. Get out of the house more — to relax.
Maybe you have the time but aren’t sure where to go to escape the noise. Or perhaps you have favorite spots but just don’t visit them often enough. Make this year the one where you visit relaxing places on a regular basis.
For starters, explore local libraries, coffee shops, and parks. These are stellar introvert hangouts, as are calm neighborhoods where you can run and walk. Bonus points if you go during the off-hours when there aren’t many other people there.
If your stage of life or schedule doesn’t allow you to get out as much as you’d like, you can bring the quiet to your home. Consider purchasing a pair of noise-canceling headphones or earmuffs and enjoy solace anytime you slip them on.
I bought a pair of earmuffs for about $20, and whenever I have to concentrate while my two-year-old is whipping around the house like a twister, I slap them on and get to work.
3. Study your mental wiring.
I love the book Do What You Are for the way it helps you understand how you think and find a job that matches your thought processes. The authors explain that any person can work any job so long as it asks her to function in the way that comes most naturally. The bottom line is when your thought processes and work requirements align, you’ll be a happy camper.
This is not only excellent job advice but good life counsel as well. When you build your life on your strengths, you tend to enjoy each day more. But in order to do this, you first need to discover what makes you tick.
The best place to start is to figure out what your personality type is. There are a variety of personality type systems, such as the DISC and Enneagram, but my favorite is Myers-Briggs. I’d recommend determining which of the eight introvert types describes you best and then studying what makes your type unique. The more you know about yourself and what you bring to the table, the better your future decisions will be.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)
4. Occasionally step outside your comfort zone.
Do you have a dream that’s been sitting on the backburner for a while? Have you, for example, been wanting to write a book, perform a song you’ve written, or talk to someone special but haven’t mustered the courage yet? You’re not alone. We all struggle with fear.
But the truth is that some of life’s best experiences are on the other side of fear. Andy Stanley says it well: “If you don’t conquer your fear, you are going to miss out on some great things in life.” The key is to feel the fear and do it anyway.
That’s what I learned when I launched a YouTube channel earlier this year. As an introvert, I wasn’t excited about getting in front of the camera, but I knew it was the next step I needed to take to better serve my audience. So I made myself do it.
My first few videos were awkward and uncomfortable, and no one watched them. But now, thirty videos later, I’m starting to enjoy making them and getting views.
You’ll learn amazing things about yourself and unlock exciting opportunities when you feel the fear and do it anyway.
5. Give your dreams time.
Have you ever beat yourself up for being a late bloomer? Or are you still trying to figure out what you want to do with your life?
According to A.J. Drenth and Elaine Schallock of Personality Junkie, that’s normal for introverts. They explain that many extroverts, especially extroverted sensors, such as ESFJs and ESTJs, tend to leap into the work world right after high school or college and try out a variety of positions. As a result, they quickly learn where they fit in and what they excel at, whether it’s leading people or overseeing processes. These kinds of people are wired for action and their gifts are easy to see, so they tend to succeed early in life.
Introverts, especially intuitive introverts, by contrast, tend to take longer to find their place in the world. For one thing, their unique expertise tends to be more focused. They zero in on only a few interests that require years of research and study to master.
Another factor is that the extroverted side of an introvert’s personality is less developed and needs to be strengthened. It’s only after an introvert has thoroughly understood himself and has a solid grasp on what he knows and can share with the world that he begins to develop his unique voice. This is because, unlike extroverts, he moves from the inside out.
So here’s the encouragement: If it’s taken you awhile to make your mark on the world — or you’re still figuring it out — cut yourself some slack. You’re in good company, and there are exciting things yet to come. This world needs to hear your introverted voice, too!