Why Finishing Work Tasks Is Harder for Some Personality Types

In the working world, people of all personality types prosper in all sorts of careers, many by learning and adapting their tendencies to suit their goals. But when it comes to focusing and completing tasks, some personality types struggle more than others – and not due to lack of ability. Personality traits can influence you in unhelpful ways, even though they may represent strengths otherwise. There are no bad traits, but context can make a big difference.

So, let’s consider how certain personality traits play into task completion, follow-through, and goal attainment. Specifically, how they affect your direction, motivation, and stress at work. (Hint: If you’re a manager, you owe it to yourself to understand this – it may make your life easier and your team more productive.)

Direction: The Intuitive and Observant Traits

The general idea of performing a task to completion is that you know where to go and how to get there. Maintaining that direction is like following a planned route to an end. Intuitive personality types excel at spotting – or imagining – hidden possibilities, and they’re almost compulsively inclined to explore them, if only mentally. That’s like turning off the main road to seek shortcuts: “Where might this lead?” Well, one result that it can lead to is not performing a task in a timely and efficient manner.

Observant personality types, on the other hand, are usually more inclined to stick with established, familiar highways and byways. That tends to make them more likely to reliably and repeatedly reach their intended destination, i.e., complete the tasks as they set out to. But that doesn’t necessarily make them more productive all the time. Sometimes exploring an alternate option can uncover an innovation that ultimately improves efficiency.

Innovation requires risk, yet when it comes to typical everyday workplace operations, being comfortable with applying what’s known can make it a lot easier to complete tasks and goals. The Intuitive imagination can bring about some brilliant leaps forward, but it can also serve as a distraction. (Holla in the comments if you know what I mean, my fellow Intuitive types.)

Motivation: The Judging and Prospecting Traits

When you’re on course to finish what you started, maintaining your momentum gets you to the goal faster. But not every personality type derives energy from the same things, and that can affect how well you keep going. Judging personality types get a big shot of internal satisfaction from crossing the finish line – sometimes almost arbitrarily so. For them, it just feels good to get something done, and the expectation of that satisfaction often pulls them to complete tasks, even if they don’t particularly enjoy them.

Prospecting types tend to get that hit of energy up front, when they initially engage in tasks, because they’re curious about how things will go. It helps if it’s something interesting or new, but even making a fresh start on something familiar can invigorate them. But they may falter midcourse when that early stimulation has faded – and they may crave to recapture it, tempting them to switch to something else. It’s harder to maintain their momentum on a given task when much of the mental reward is behind them rather than luring them forward.

But that said, Prospecting personalities persevere despite facing those challenges. One positive potential is that because these types respond so much to immediate rewards, they are well suited for enjoying the doing of a thing while it’s occurring. Comparatively, Judging personalities may have to slog through it before they perceive their end rewards. Finishing work tasks is good, yet motivation can be found in enjoying the process.

Stress: The Turbulent and Assertive Traits

At work, whether you finish tasks has consequences, and in turn, how you feel about the consequences affects how you pursue those objectives. People with a Turbulent Identity are more likely to worry about failing, and stress about their ability to complete a task can lead them to avoid it. Yet that insecurity may also push them to prove themselves by finishing something with aplomb. That may sound contradictory, but it’s more of an oscillating dichotomy, hence “Turbulence.”

Assertive personalities tend to have higher levels of self-confidence, which can lead them to have a more stable attitude, and accordingly, a steadier approach to completing tasks and goals. That supports progress when they’re motivated, but oddly enough, it can also reinforce inertia when they’re not. Confidence can reduce their sense of urgency, which can reduce their energy investment toward goals – and interfere with completing them. Too much stability equals being stationary.

Basically, when it comes to finishing what you start, the Turbulent and Assertive personality traits can both be double-edged swords (so no need to feel bad, no matter which type you are). The interplay of Identity with other traits can make a big difference in how easy and likely it is for someone to complete work tasks and goals, but a lot depends on those other traits.


How good you are at finishing work-related tasks isn’t just about one thing, and you’re not incompetent, irresponsible, or lazy merely because you struggle to complete goals. Different personality types achieve motivation and a sense of reward in their own ways and can still get the results they need to succeed. It may simply be a matter of understanding yourself and seeking a unique approach that works for you – hopefully with the supportive involvement of your managers.

Check out our career-related tools and articles to help you craft a plan to succeed. Or explore the Premium Profile for your personality type, which has a robust section on professional development as well as other key areas of life like romance, personal growth, and much more.

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