Who doesn’t love taking personality quizzes and comparing the results with their friends? Learning more about your personality is fun, but it can also be a genuinely helpful way to understand yourself better, make smarter decisions that set you up for success, and improve your relationships. There are a lot of different ways you can dig deeper into your personality, and this article will walk you through some of the best to help you get started.
Reflecting on Your Personality
Identify your morals. Everyone has an inherent sense of what they know is right and wrong. Many call this their “inner voice” or conscience. When you understand your moral codes, you may feel good and pleased. When you don’t listen, your “inner voice” may make you feel guilty, uncomfortable, or anxious.
Identify and be aware when these moral dilemmas occur. Listen to your conscience as it guides you.
Your morals will help guide you in knowing the self. It may allow you to recognize the things that are bad for you, as well as those things that bring you hope.
As you live by your morals, remember that good does exist. It can win out when you put your morality into action.
Recognize your values. Values are the big ideas that shape your decisions. These ideas are broad goals like having financial security, being close to family, or staying healthy. When you can acknowledge your values, you can set goals that are in alignment with your personality. This will increase the likelihood that you meet your goals and lead a happy life.
For example, if you value financial security, you could set the goal of having six months worth of salary in an emergency savings account. While this is hard to accomplish, if you are being true to your values, you have greater chance of succeeding.
Know what you are passionate about. While your values are the motivation behind your goals, your passions can provide the focus needed to reach them. You will know you are passionate about something if it holds your interest for extended periods of time. If you build a career (or even a hobby) around these passions, you will remain happier and more fulfilled than if you neglect them.
For example, if your passion is art, you will be much happier in a career that focuses on art instead of a career in banking. Even if you are not an artist, you could do things like curate art, teach art, or write about art.
Understand your social needs. While all people need some general things like friends and a support structure, the degree to which one person needs them may vary. This is where the words introvert and extrovert come into play. Take notice of how you recharge yourself after a hard week. Do you go out with friends, or do you need some time alone? Understanding these needs will allow you to keep yourself balanced and happy as you march through your day to day life.
Extroverts enjoy being around people and being spontaneous.
Introverts enjoy time alone and planning their days carefully.
Track your rhythms. Knowing when you are your most energized or most tired can play an important role in your overall success. Make note of when you feel your best, and when you feel tired. Track things like when you are hungry, and when you feel most like exercising. Use this information to keep your mind and body in sync.
If you are a morning person, working third shift might not be your calling. On the flip side, a night owl is likely to be late getting to a job that starts at 6:00 AM.
Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. No one is great at everything, and that’s okay. Recognize the things that other people acknowledge you for doing well, and the things they don’t. Also, pay attention to when you feel like you are succeeding in a task, and when you are struggling. This will start building your awareness of your own particular talents and abilities. When you know what these are, you can use that knowledge to improve your weaknesses or play to your strengths.
Your strengths might include abilities like “focus,” “math skills,” “creativity,” and “understanding people.”
It’s okay if it takes some time to figure these out—be open and curious, and keep in mind that this is a path that can take some time.
Get feedback. Ask your close friends and family how they see your personality. Compare what they say to how you feel about your personality. If they match, then it is likely that you display these traits consistently.
If several people close to you have very different views on your personality, you should examine your beliefs about yourself.
Taking Personality Tests
Understand what type of test is best for you. There are hundreds of different types of psychological personality tests that assess and measure your unique and individual variables. The type of tests that you choose will depend upon what it is you want to find out about yourself, how much time you are willing to commit to taking the test, what questions you are willing to answer, and how much you want to spend on taking the test.
These tests may include:
Tests to measure your level of intelligence as well as your neurological and cognitive analytical functioning.
Tests to measure if you’re an extrovert or introvert and how you work with others.
Tests to measure how you analyze situations and cope with varying types of stresses.
Tests to measure if you are more prone to certain types of mental health concerns.
Recognize that each test has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it will be up to you to do your research on the type of test that interests you.
Choose a personality test. Carl Jung is credited with starting our fascination with personality testing. In the early 1900s he developed a way to take inventory of a person’s particular traits.
Since then this idea has been adapted to several different versions. Some popular ones include:
Personality and Preferences Inventory (PAPI) – This test is often used to screen candidates in a business setting.
Myers-Briggs Type indicator – This test is used to identify personal preferences in introversion, extroversion, sensation, thinking, intuition, and functioning.
True Colors Test – This test classifies personality traits into colors to make it easy to understand.
Take the test in a relaxed state of mind. Take a few deep breaths or use a visualization technique to calm your mind before taking a personality test. You should also take the test when you are well rested and your appetite is satisfied. Being stressed during the test will make it harder to answer questions accurately and honestly. Overthinking each question will lead to confusion about which answer is the “right answer.”
Answer the questions honestly. After years of school, most people are hardwired to look for the “right” answer or the “most right answer.” With personality tests, there is no such thing as a right or wrong answer. You are not being graded, you are exploring your own personal attributes. Answer the questions as you are, not as you wish to be or as you think you are supposed to answer them.
For example, you could encounter a question like “Do you like to take the lead on a project, or be given direction?” Many people might feel inclined to pick “Take the lead,” because they feel that this is the “right” answer, but if you hate the idea of managing a team, you should answer “Take direction.”
Understanding Personality Test Results
Know the basis for most personality tests. Though this may not stand true for every test ever developed, most personality tests evaluate personality based on five traits (often called the Big Five). Each of these traits show up in some degree in all people, and your personality depends upon which ones are dominant.
These five characteristics are abbreviated with the acronym OCEAN. The traits are as follows:
O is for openness.
C is for conscientiousness.
E is for extroversion.
A is for agreeableness.
N is for neuroticism.
Look at each trait as a spectrum. For example, no person is totally introverted or totally extroverted. That would mean that someone never wanted to be around any person, or that they never wanted to be alone even for a moment. That said, most people lean to one side or the other. This is true with each personality trait. You cannot be defined as totally one trait, but will find where you fall on the gradient from introversion to extroversion.
The same holds true for the traits of openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
Be aware of changes. As we move through life, we experience new things. These new experiences force us to grow and change as people. You should be aware of how this growth affects your personality. Allow yourself to acknowledge when your personality has shifted, no matter how slightly. This will help you to stay true to yourself as you grow.
Change parts of your personality that make you unhappy. If you are not happy with your current personality, you can make changes. Just setting goals and focusing on the traits you want to display can effect short term changes in your personality. If you keep this going long enough, you can start to see yourself differently and alter your social and emotional self to the point that changes become long term.
If you are serious about changing major aspects of your personality, you may want to consult a mental health professional. They can offer guidance and supervision to help you attain your goals in a safe and responsible way.