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Life-work planning can give you energy.

In order to plan your future, it is a good idea to take time to think about the present, take a look at your past, and then look toward the future with a plan of action. In this first of a two-part series, I am going to discuss ways to examine your present with the help of some writing exercises and an overview of an instrument that measures your likes and dislikes. Writing is an excellent way to examine your life. It can enable you to do life-work planning on your own.

Begin by making a list of energizers and de-energizers. (See box on page 14 for examples.) Energizers are activities or people that excite you. You have more energy after doing them or being with them than you did when you began. Deenergizers are activities or people who drain you of energy quickly. You feel tired and maybe even depressed after a short period.

After you have made these lists, I suggest taking a personality test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help you further understand why you like some activities and don't like others. It reinforces for you why some things turn you on and others turn you off. (To find out who gives the test in your area, contact the headquarters of the Association for Psychological Type, 816/444-3500, and ask them for a APT chapter in your area. ACPE gives the test in its Career Choices program.)

It's important to know what your natural tendencies are when you are making career changes. I have heard physicians say that they are living a life that a ten-year-old boy or girl chose for them. Many were that young when they made the decision to become doctors. One obstetrician told me he wished he had filled out the instrument in high school. He would never have chosen that specialty if he had known how much time alone he needed and how much interruptions bothered him.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is based on the work of Carl Jung, who "...believed we are born with a predisposition to certain personality preferences." [1] He identified four sets of behaviors to describe how people usually behave. Katherine Briggs had been devising her own classification of personality differences when she read Jung and realized that their theories were similar, but that his were more thoroughly developed. "In 1942, prompted by World War II...and the conviction that the war was caused, in part, by people not understanding differences, "Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers "began to develop a series of questions to measure personality differences. The result was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." [2]

The four sets of behaviors are Extravert/Introvert, Sensing/Intuitive, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. The sets of behaviors describe our source of energy, how we take in information from the world, how we make decisions, and how we organize our lives. All of us exhibit all eight of these behaviors, but we tend to prefer one of each set at least a little more than the other.

The first set, Extravert/Introvert, explains our source of energy. (Try to forget society's definition of these two words--outgoing and shy. Jung used them differently.) Extraverts get energy from people and activities outside themselves. They want to talk to others a lot, often working out their thoughts aloud as they talk. Introverts get energy from within themselves. They usually need a fair amount of time alone and prefer to do their thinking quietly to themselves, then letting others know what they have worked out.

Extraverts begin to talk and then, seven or eight sentences later, they know what they really think. Introverts often think extroverts have lied to them at the beginning of the conversion, but it's not necessarily so. They are just working through a problem out loud, while the introvert would do all the thinking internally and then deliver the finished product. Extraverts can be similarly annoyed with Introverts, because they resent that the Introverts didn't let them in on any of their quiet thinking process.

Kroeger and Thuesen write: "If you are an Extravert, you tend to talk first, think later, and don't know what you'll say until you hear yourself say probably know a lot of people and count many of them among your 'close friends'.... If you are an Introvert, you probably rehearse things before saying them and prefer that others would do the like to share special occasions with just one other person or perhaps a few close friends." [3]

Physician executives who are Extraverts probably enjoy most the part of their jobs that requires that they speak to

Examples of energizers

My list:

* Speaking to a large group

* One-on-one educational sessions

* Long walks

* Talk with a good friend

* Dancing

* Writing

A physician's list:

* Helping colleagues or patients solve problems

* Completing tasks in a timely manner

* Talking with a good friend

* Serious exercise or competitive sports

Examples of de-energizers

My list:

* Learning something new on the computer

* Continuous conflict

* Trying to work when there is a lot of noise

* Filing papers

* Parties with large numbers of people

* Preparing income tax records

A physician's list:

* Long and/or disorganized meetings

* Confronting a fellow physician about something unpleasant

* Budget preparation

groups or walk around the medical facility talking with co-workers. The Introverts may be most comfortable managing information and doing quality assurance the utilization review.

Before you read about the next set of behaviors, write the answer to the following questions: Which term seems to describe how you like to do things, Extravert or Introvert? Is your life structured so you can do enough of this behavior to satisfy you?

The second set, Sensing and Intuitive, describes how we take in information about our world. Sensing types take in information through their five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) Intuitives take in information through a sixth sense, a hunch. They think they know something and are not sure why, but they are right often enough that they come to trust their hunches.

Sensing types like to work with details, and they approach projects in a step-by-step manner, starting at the beginning and proceeding until they are finished. They like established ways of doing things. These people often like to be involved with finance or technology and are very comfortable with numbers, computers, and detailed procedures. Because they don't mind repetition, their motto might be--it is isn't broken, don't fix it.

Whereas Sensing types are very comfortable with proven methods, Intuitives rarely like to do the same thing twice. They like to start big projects, sometimes tackling the middle section first and skipping around from one idea to the next without a particular order. Intuitives see the big picture. They are often looking toward the future and imagining possibilities.

Intuitives often like executive positions where they are responsible for long-range planning or are called upon to solve unexpected problems. They often serve in a counselor role no matter what title they have because they enjoy helping people think of possible changes they might make in their lives.

If you show a peanut to Sensing types, they see a small brown object thatis rough and appears to be two ball shapes joined together. Show it to Intuitives and their first response might be--Jimmy Carter raised peanuts. They will think of something beyond what they are actually looking at. These two types often annoy each other because of their different styles, but if they can work together without driving each other crazy, good things happen. The Intuitives start some great projects and the Sensing types help them finish them, tending to many of the details. Each needs the other.

"If you are a Sensor, you probably prefer specific answers to questions; when you ask someone the time, you prefer "three fifty-two' and get irritated if the answer is 'a little before four' or almost time to go.... If you are an Intuitive, you probably would rather fantasize about spending your next paycheck than sit and balance your checkbook." [4]

Before your read about the next set of behaviors, write the answer to the following questions: Which term seems to describe how you like to do things, Sensing or Intuitive? Is your life structured so you cando enough of this behavior to satisfy you?

The two sets of behaviors, Thinking and Feeling, explain how people prefer to make decisions. Thinking types make decisions based on what is logical and reasonable. Feeling types consider how the decision will affect other people and themselves.

Thinking types are very good at analyzing business plans or problems. They are often firm and tough-minded and may hurt other people's feeling without knowing it. If it makes economical sense to fire someone, they can do it without agonizing over the decision.

Whereas thinking types decide with their heads, feeling types decide with their hearts. Theyy suffer when they have to fire people because they worry about hurting feelings and about the hardship it will cause. Feeling types are good at understanding people, like harmony, and will work to make it happen.

"If you are a Thinker, you probably think it's more important to be right than liked; you don't believe it is necessary to like people in order to be ableto work with them and do a good job.... If you are a Feeler, you probably put yourself in other people's moccasins; you are likely to be the one in a meeting who asks, 'How will this affect the people involved?' [5] It's important to remember that thinking types have deep feelings and feeling types think logically. Theyjust tend to lead with their preference.

Before you read about the next set of behaviors, write the answer to the following questions: Which term seems to describe how you like to do things, Thinking or Feeling? Is your life structured so you can do enough of this behavior to satisfy you?

The labels Judging and Perceiving describe how you organize your life. Judging types like to make decisions and get things settled quickly. They like to have order and structure, giving them a sense that they have life under control. Perceiving types like to continue to take in more information and keep their options open. They like to take each experience as it comes, without the feeling of being tied down to a plan.

"If you are a Judger, you probably thrive on order; you have a special system for keeping things in the refrigerator and dish drainer, hangers in your closets, and pictures on your walls.... If you are a Perceiver, you don't believe that 'neatness counts,' even though you would prefer to have things in order; what's important is creativity, spontaneity, and responsiveness." [6]

Physician executives who are Judging types are usually comfortable making decisions quickly--saying yer or not to a certain medical procedure based on cost and quality of care. Perceiving types probably enjoy more taks such as gathering a great deal of information before a piece of medical equipment is purchased.

Before you read about the next set of behaviors, write the answer to the following questions: Which term seems to describe how you like to do things, Judging or Perceiving? Is your life structured so you can do enough of this behavior to satisfy you?

If you can identify which type of behavior is natural for you, you can more easily choose work that is satisfying to you. Also, if you decide which behaviors you prefer and structure your life so you get to do them, you will find you have more energy. Here is a list of activities that you can do that will meet the need of your preferred type.

* Extraverts--Plan activities to be with people.

* Introverts--Plan to have time alone.

* Sensing--Do something that lets you have control over details. Write computer programs. Have a detailed filing system. Plan an elaborate dinner.

* Intuitive--Use your imagination to come up with new projects. Write them down. Try to carry out some of them.

* Thinking--Write a financial plan. Run your own business.

* Feeling--Get with a friend and talk about your feelings. Do something good for someone else.

* Judging--Be the one who makes decisions. You probably will not be happy unless you have the final say on some issues.

* Perceiving--Gather information and let others make some of the decisions. Have an unscheduled Saturday when you do whatever occurs to you all day long.

Know yourself. Choose which behavior fits you. Take the test some time to get a more accurate assessment. The information may help explain why some things energize you and others de-energize you.

Life-work planning may or may not involve changing jobs. If you decide what energizes you and de-energizes you and accept that fact without condemning your inadequacies, you can add activities to your life that satisfy you. If you meet the needs of each of your behavior types, you'll have the energy not only to be productive in your present situation but also to choose new challenges.

Barbara J. Linney is Director of Career Development, American College of Physician Executives, Tampa, Fla.


[1] Kroeger, O., and Thuesen, J. Type Talk. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press, 1988, p. 281.

[2] Ibid., p. 282.

[3] Ibid., pp. 14-5.

[4] Ibid., pp. 18-9.

[5] Ibid., p.9.

[6] Ibid., p.21.

Other Information Sources

Keirsey, D., and Bates, M. Please Understand Me. Del Mar, Calif.: Prometheus Nemesis Book Co., 1984.

Myers, L. (with Myers, P.). Gifts Differing. Palo Alto, Calif.: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 1980.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American College of Physician Executives
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:part 1
Author:Linney, Barbara J.
Publication:Physician Executive
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:Correcting the practice styles of errant physicians.
Next Article:Resolving and avoiding conflict with the professional staff.

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