Charged Up or Burned Out?: Personality and Energy
One too many early mornings followed by late nights can sap anyone’s reserves, but fatigue is as much a mental state as it is a physical one. And while a few cups of coffee or a power nap may be the preferred remedy for some, others seem to go through life without the need for such energy-boosting measures.
To see if there could be a correlation between feeling fatigued and personality type, we asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You rarely feel worn out or tired.” Only 28% of readers agreed overall. Interestingly, there was not much variation among the traits that govern our Roles, but the traits associated with each Strategy revealed significant differences: 39% of Assertive personality types agreed with our statement, as opposed to 18% of Turbulent types, and 35% of Extraverts agreed, as opposed to 19% of Introverts.
Let’s examine these results in further detail below.
Analysts and Sentinels (29% each agreeing) were slightly more likely than Explorers (25%) and Diplomats (24%) to indicate that they rarely feel tired. The Thinking and Judging personality traits both played a role in our readers’ responses, and it makes sense that Analysts (all of whom share the Thinking trait) and Sentinels (all of whom share the Judging trait) agreed at the highest rates.
Whereas Feeling types tend to experience the world through their emotions, which can be quite draining, Thinking types’ objectivity and rationality keep them more level, both mentally and in terms of energy. Similarly, Prospecting personality types are always improvising and adapting to new opportunities, which can require more energy, while Judging types’ energy may remain more stable because they tend to prefer predictability and structure over spontaneity and change.
People Mastery (44% agreeing)
Defined by both the Extravert and Assertive traits, the People Mastery Strategy was by far the most likely to agree with the statement, “You rarely feel worn out or tired.” Extraverts, who gain energy through social interaction, can sometimes strike Introverted personalities as being in perpetual motion, and People Masters exemplify this notion. As Assertive types, People Masters are also more resistant to the stresses that come from dealing with other people, stresses that can wear down even the most outgoing individuals over time.
Assertive Protagonists (ENFJ-A) were the most likely of all personality types to say that they rarely feel tired (49%). Even the name “Protagonist” (perhaps because we associate it with the heroes of our favorite stories) seems to imply a level of action, energy, and enthusiasm that surpasses that of most other types. Idealistic and altruistic, Protagonist personalities often find themselves in positions of leadership, where they can draw on their passion and dynamic energy to motivate others.
Consider the example of Leslie Knope, the Protagonist personality type from Parks and Recreation who constantly employs her peppy, can-do attitude and seemingly boundless energy to make her hometown of Pawnee, Indiana, a better place – often to the annoyance of her coworkers. But as Leslie would say, “One person’s annoying is another’s inspiring and heroic.” Still, because Protagonists want to do so much to help so many others, they can be vulnerable to spreading themselves too thin and burning out, which may explain why just over half did not agree that they rarely feel tired.
Confident Individualism (31%)
As Introverts, personality types who belong to the Confident Individualism Strategy will almost inevitably encounter situations where their patience with others wears thin and their energy runs low. However, as Assertive personalities, Confident Individualists may also feel more comfortable than others with taking their leave or carving out time for themselves, whether by ducking out of a party over the protests of the host or by refusing to attend a nonmandatory meeting at work.
This behavior may rub others the wrong way or strike them as rude, but as an important practice of self-care, it may also help prevent Confident Individualists from feeling that they have overextended themselves or worn themselves out.
Social Engagement (25%)
Members of the Social Engagement Strategy, like People Masters, are Extraverts who feel most comfortable in social situations, surrounded by the buzz of other people. However, even if Social Engagers initially feel charged up by these interactions, their Turbulent personality trait may cause them to rapidly feel depleted from the mental exertion of focusing on their own behavior or worrying about what others think of them. Whereas socializing may feel like play to a People Master, for a Social Engager, it may feel more like work, a constant struggle to assess and respond to their surroundings and elevate their standing in the eyes of others. And that can be very tiring.
Constant Improvement (13%)
For the Introverted, Turbulent personality types in the Constant Improvement Strategy, life can be exhausting, as their drive for perfection is continual. In public, Constant Improvers feel drained by both the effort to control how they are perceived and by the simple presence of others. But privacy doesn’t offer much respite, only the opportunity for these types to ruminate endlessly over how they might be falling short.
Of all the personality types, Turbulent Adventurers (ISFP-T) were the least likely to agree that they rarely feel tired, at just under 11%, closely followed by Turbulent Defenders (ISFJ-T) and Turbulent Mediators (INFP-T), who both agreed at just over 11%. Adventurers are spontaneous types who love experimenting with new things and reinventing themselves, but, for Turbulent variants particularly, when too much experimentation and reinvention is being motivated by low self-esteem, it can take a definite toll on their energy.
Turbulent Defenders and Mediators may also struggle with self-esteem, but their tendency to have lower energy is more likely a result of their selfless natures. These personality types put a lot of effort into helping, supporting, and nurturing others, which can leave little energy for themselves. If they’re not careful to take the time they need to recharge, and if they spend too much time wondering how they could be doing more to help or what they could be doing better, these types will easily wear out.
Because our Strategies are in part a measure of how we direct ourselves externally – our outward behavior, in other words – the cumulative effects of these behaviors over time are bound to have consequences for our psychic selves, including our mental and spiritual energy.
In particular, a hyperawareness of our own faults (perceived or otherwise) can in itself contribute to feelings of fatigue, as our minds dwell incessantly on things that we may have little control over. And the efforts that we make in an attempt to master these faults can tire us even more.
On the other hand, those who are able to overlook their own shortcomings, who feel confident when they’re alone and when they’re around others, may have greater peace of mind that can, in turn, lead to less strain in pursuit of perfection. Of course, even as some would consider physical or mental fatigue an indication of overwork or stress, others would argue that it’s a sign of admirable drive and motivation. Either way, it is useful for us to understand where we might fall on this scale and how we can modify our behaviors to achieve a healthy, balanced energy.
What about you? How do you see your personality type influencing your energy? Let us know in the comments below.