Know Thyself

Over the years I’ve come to a conclusion.  I’m the most happy when I’m being me.  Fighting to be something I’m not isn’t helping me or anyone else.  So when I took a recent training course at work I got to do a personality test: The Life Styles Inventory which produced some fairly interesting results.

To go after an early retirement goal does require certain personality traits to do it well.  So to demonstrate this I’ll show you my particular results.  There are 12 categories the inventory ranks you on and the rank is percentile of the population.  In my case my most dominant trait is Achievement at the 80 percentile which is all about enjoying a challenge, thinking ahead and setting goals.  Sort of obviously useful trait for an early retiree want to be.  My secondary dominant trait is Humanistic-Encouraging at 68 percentile, which means I like to encourage others and I’m willing to take time for others (not surprising I’m writing a blog to help you retire too, eh?).

What I also found interesting was how low some of my scores were, such as Approval (the need to get approval from others, 7%), Conventional (following established methods, 5%), Dependent (on other people, 8%), Competitive (10%) and my personal favorite Power (the need to control or manipulate others, 5%). Keep in mind these are percentiles so for example 95% of the population is more conventional than me.  Or if you prefer you can invert these to say: I don’t care what other people think, I’m unconventional, independent, a team player and I believe power should be wielded for the common good and not your own interests. While not all of these are required for an early retiree, I would suggest lower scores in Approval, Conventional, and Dependent are a good idea.  Early retirement by definition is a unconventional act and being able to be your own person regardless of approval of  others is highly useful.  Also being independent is useful since you often have to learn new skills with little guidance. (As a side note I wish I had these results years ago to realize why I had a short career as a politician…I did what was in people’s best interest because I cared not because I give a damn about being re-elected).

I also had some scores with a moderate rating like Affiliate (ability to have social bonds, 37%) which is fairly important to get along with others.  My Perfectionistic score was 15%, so I like things to be good, but I don’t panic about perfect (I would caution not having too high of a score here otherwise you will never get past your financial model for your retirement).  Then my Oppositional score was 33%, so I’ll argue with you to ensure you are on the right track, but I don’t pick fights and I’m not overly defensive.

Am I the perfect early retiree?…NO!  I just have certain traits that support that goal.  I, like just about everyone else on the world, do try to be a better person.  My one target area of growth was my Self-Actualization score at 60%, which is about letting go and accepting things for what they are (not what you want them to be).  I try to do better at this, but I fully admit I dwell too long on things.  I have to practice being a cork on the sea and moving where the tides take me a bit better.

Which personality traits do you thing makes a good retiree? Which one would you like to be better at?

4 thoughts on “Know Thyself”

  1. From my time on an early retirement forum, I’d say being an INTJ is popular mindset. (I=Introvert is a big one.)

    In general, being an outlier is also a good idea, someone who is not afraid to go against societal norms, especially lifestyle choices which can cost a lot of money.

    Tim, do you have a link to the website you whose test you took with that “inventory” you mentioned?

  2. Good discussion today on exactly this topic in the comments over at MMM:

    I completely agree with deegee — rationals (and INTJs especially, as far as I can tell) appear to be massively overrepresented in FI circles. But as you state, a certain personality type doesn’t define your destiny any more than any other single factor does. Regardless of what your cognitive stack looks like, there are always opportunities to build better habits and make smarter decisions.

  3. What observing and taking multiple personality tests have taught me most of all over the years isn’t only that I’m “suited for” freedom/independence type needs or values, but also that other people really could give as much of a flip about these things as I do about being conventional or having approval. There’s a tendency for the more radical ER people to polarize into us vs. them with ER characteristics presumably being the optimal. Fortunately most of them don’t have children or maybe only one because that’ll certainly change your perspective in a hurry. 🙂 It’s also partially an age factor, especially if you’ve had management positions where you really do have to understand that not everyone sees the world just like you do and shockingly enough they manage just fine. Vive le difference… What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

  4. I’m good at saving the best bits until last. I’m pretty sure in retirement as an introvert, I’ll want to garden a lot. I want to garden NOW but don’t have the space, plus I’d have to go through a few plant deaths to learn how to do it well.

    I too am also suited for freedom/independence as Jacq, but I don’t have any desire to retire early or group myself into that bucket. I couldn’t really care if I retired today or in 40 years, it’s more that I know I have time ahead of me and I’d rather go easy on myself throughout my entire life rather than rushing to the end of the finish line with all this money and no energy to spend it.

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