I haven’t skipped the personality test. In fact, I went to the website that outlines the Birkman Method and learned that is not actually a personality test. It is an assessment that provides a report on your behaviour and strengths (which is the part most personality tests delve into) as well as your motivational tendencies and stress behaviours. All things I’m interested in having a deeper understanding of.

As part of taking concrete action for this step, I contacted the consultant who offered the test and arranged to take the online quiz. Because the test was online, I was able to frequent my favourite Starbucks, grab my Decafe Americano, and settle in.

The test consisted of a series of multiple choice questions and was estimated to take approximately 40 minutes to complete. A pretty accurate estimate, it ended up taking me about 35 minutes. I tried to answer quickly and not overthink each question, which had been recommended to me by the consultant. The questions were divided into two parts, the first half centered on my perception of what traits or behaviours characterize “most other people”, while the second half was about traits or behaviours that I felt most often described myself.

There was a pretty good chunk of questions where I didn’t feel a huge affinity for any of the answers offered. For those questions I reverted to my gut instinct and went with whatever was closest to reflecting my true feelings. Overall it was a pretty painless 35 minutes, and my Americano was super yummy which made the process that much more enjoyable. Now I just have to wait for my upcoming coaching session to obtain the results. The session is scheduled for the end of the month so I will come back to this topic to discuss my results in a later post.

So, moving on to identifying five things I enjoy doing. I struggled with this all week, I even spent a couple hours doing Google queries for lists of things that other people enjoy that I could try to steal from. That didn’t really leave me feeling like I was accomplishing the intention of this action. I gave myself a stern reminder that the action was meant to identify what I truly enjoyed, not what other people did that I could see myself doing.

So I stopped my Google searches, put my head down, and thought about how I could decide if I truly enjoyed doing something just for myself. Not because of how doing it looked to others, or how the idea of doing it seemed nice, but because it brought me happiness. My first hurdle was how to define “enjoy”? Was it just a feeling, a sense of happiness while doing something? Did I need to love it, or just like it enough to keep doing it? I grabbed my handy Websters Dictionary and looked up the word “enjoyment”, it was defined in several ways.

en•ŸjoyŸ•ment

  1. The act or condition of receiving pleasure from something;
  1. Use or possession of something beneficial or pleasurable; and
  1. Something that gives pleasure.

After analyzing the definitions and thinking through what would constitute a good measure of enjoyment, I landed on three components that I felt were crucial to determining if I truly enjoyed something:

  1. Something where the passage of time feels as though it speeds up. Where you can’t believe an hour, two hours, whatever amount of time you have spent doing the activity has passed, because you were so immersed in what you were doing.
  1. Something that produces a level of engagement where you are able to be present in the moment.
  1. Something that produces a sense of accomplishment and/or satisfaction from having completed or participated in it.

That last component was a crucial point. I have a lot of friends (and a husband) who would say that playing App’s like Candy Crush easily tick off the first two points. They lose track of time and they are definitely engaged in what they are doing (often to the detriment of those around them) But! And this is the important part, after they finish playing they definitely DO NOT have a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction. In fact, most of them report feelings of guilt for having spent their time playing in the first place. Similar to the feeling we get when we cave to an addiction.

I definitely wanted to identify sources of healthy enjoyment, not ways to generate guilty feelings. Everything on my list would need to hit the mark on all three components. With my simple three-step checklist as a guide, I started to evaluate the things I did in my day to day life, and slowly I was able to pick out my five things.

Here’s the end result:

Enjoyment #1: Reading & Writing

I’ve put these two together because both the activities and the enjoyment I receive from them are so similar. I LOVE to read, it’s one of my favourite things to do in my spare time. Pair a good book with my favourite Starbucks coffee, and VOILA!, huge source of enjoyment for me!

Writing is similar. I love to get my ideas out on paper. Even if my writing goes nowhere, it helps me sort out my thoughts and clear my mind. Take this blog for example. This has already been a huge source of enjoyment for me, it helps me organize me thoughts, make concrete plans, and even if I’m the only person who ever reads it, it gives me a feeling of accountability and accomplishment. Again, hand me my favourite coffee and my enjoyment factor when I’m writing goes up two-fold!

(It is possible the my love of coffee qualifies more as an addiction, but I like to think of it as a treat that I can pair with other activities for increased enjoyment. Other than yoga I could pretty much add a Starbucks coffee to everything on this list, and my enjoyment factor would instantly go up!).

Enjoyment #2: Yoga

I don’t go to yoga nearly enough anymore, but I used to be an avid (almost daily) attendee. I really should get back to it. Whenever I settle onto my yoga mat and focus inward I feel an intense feeling of indulgent enjoyment. I revel in the expectation that I turn my phones and my mind off for the 60 or 90 minutes class and just focus on the moment. Essentially it takes the decision of checking out of our crazy world off my shoulders and turns it into an expectation for which I simply must comply! Once I’m done, I’m always left with a huge high of accomplishment and a blissful state of calm.

Enjoyment #3: Playing Games With My Family/Friends

I actually do this quite a bit. It’s the perfect combination of quality family time AND learning. Whether it’s working on my son’s reading, spelling, trivia, strategy or math abilities, every board/card game has some bonus learning component disguised as total fun. Fortunately for me, my son and husband love them equally as much. In an amazing turn of events they are both more competitive than I am, something my parents and siblings probably didn’t think was possible. I also love playing games with friends. I must be an old soul, but dinner and a board game with friend’s sounds like a great night to me (especially when I can still be in bed by 9:45)!

Enjoyment #4: Cooking

This needs a qualifier. I am not talking about the cooking I do everyday just to get meals on the table. What I am talking about is the planning, prep work, and cooking I do when I’m trying something new or cooking for company. I enjoy the whole process (as long as I’ve given myself the time to do it slowly that is!) If I’m rushing around like a crazy person trying to get it all done in not enough time, the enjoyment factor pretty much plummets to zero. So perhaps cooking when I have planned for a proper amount of time to spend cooking is a better way to say it. It’s something I particularly enjoy doing with my husband (and I think he enjoys it too!), and something I should start doing more of with my son. Maybe time to introduce a special weekly meal that we cook as a family? Hey, we could even follow-up it up with a board game (with a Starbucks coffee!) Wow – I’m on fire here!

Enjoyment #5: DIY Salvaging/Restoring

I love when I can salvage an old piece of furniture (especially when I get it for free!) and turn it into something useful and beautiful. I love it so much that two years ago I turned it into a side business. And I loved it……..for about six months. With my demanding full time job I had bitten off more than I could chew. My life felt like I was constantly working, and suddenly my hobby turned into just one more thing I had to get done. I had a garage full of old furniture and a to do list that looked like it was never going to end. I ultimately finished and sold all the pieces in the garage, but I haven’t done anything else since. In hindsight it is still something I get huge satisfaction from, the thrill of finding the piece, the relaxation of being outside refinishing it. I just need to do it in moderation so my source of enjoyment doesn’t become a burden.

Overall I was pretty happy with my list of five. If I focused on adding in more of these five things alone I think would feel a significant boost in my level of contentment.

I also think it gave me some interesting insight into my personality. Of the five, four were pretty solitary, introverted activities. Clearly I liked my alone time, but maybe that was another indicator that I need to expand my relationships with others. Maybe I could just try and do the things I loved in more social settings. Book club anybody?

What are your five? Write me a message! I would love to hear about what makes the cut for other people’s lists!

~PMZ~