Deepen your understanding of yourself to bring clarity to your career change.

Deepen your understanding of yourself to bring clarity to your career change Photo of an old rowing boat next to a tree on a Caribbean beach with the sea in the background.

Last year, when preparing for a Myers-Briggs workshop I facilitated at a large corporate, I had a real aha, lightbulb, I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-recognised-this-before, things are coming into focus moment of clarity.

Now, I don’t know about you, but these moments are extremely rare for me.

My self-knowledge seems to go at the pace of a tortoise, slowly but surely making headway; if I try to pro-actively hurry it along, applying some project management style rigor, it usually backfires on me. I haven’t worked out why and maybe that’s not important. What is important is that I make progress and for once that progress came with some bells and whistles – it threw a party.  The lightbulb didn’t just come on, it gave me a light show.

If you have done any form of Myers-Briggs personality framework application, you will be somewhat familiar with the concept that we are all born with an innate type and, assuming we grow throughout our life in a healthy way (although the odds are not in our favour it seems), we understand ourselves more and more and others too.

I’ve been facilitating group and one-on-one Myers-Briggs sessions for about 15 years now and have had myself down as an ESFJ type.

E = extravert (I direct and receive energy externally)

S = sensing (I pay attention to details and facts)

F = feeling (simply put, I make decisions with my heart)

J = judging (I like to approach life with a plan and structure)

There are 16 types in total, and as I was producing the grid that summarises each of them for the workshop participants, I was struck by how much I resonated with a different type – ENFJ.

Only one difference, the letter N.

N = intuition (pays attention to the big picture, likes patterns and is imaginative)

Suddenly it felt like my understanding of myself came into sharp focus without any help from anything or anyone and within minutes.

On reflection, I am sure this is not entirely true.

The last few years have seen layers of the onion peel away as I’ve had the space to explore new paths without restrictions. No longer having to fit a mould, more of me has come to the surface and I think this lightbulb moment was the culmination (for now).

The ENFJ type:

Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfil their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.

The insight that really stopped me in my tracks was ‘Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfil their potential.’ I mean I know I’m people orientated and all that but I haven’t appreciated to what extent. This explains why environments where I can’t fully use these skills and insights or where they are not respected enough leave me feeling frustrated and on the outskirts.

The second insight gave me a real injection of self-confidence and came from looking more carefully at the N, the information I pay attention to.

I always interpreted the interest in patterns that this preference has as being mathematical and scientific (spot my one dimensional understanding) but suddenly I realised that I am interested in patterns…in people!

Writing this makes it seem an underwhelming revelation but it has transformed the way I look at myself and my strengths. I’m already doing work that enables me to see patterns in people, but this new understanding is giving me the confidence to really lean into it and value it in a way I haven’t been able to before.

Finally, it is also giving me language I can use to explain what I do and how I approach coaching, something I sometimes struggle with imparting. No doubt a hangover from not feeling that people focussed roles in the corporate world are quite as important as others; as a result I talked my roles down. Now I feel more confident that when I talk about what I do I will do so in a way that values it.

Here’s to your lightbulb moment, whether it clarifies the direction in which you want your career change to go, or like me, it confirms why you have chosen a particular route.

Keep watching, these moments do happen and often when you least expect it.

Photo by unknown on Canva.