I’ve taken a lot of personality tests in my day. From DISC, to the Big 5, to the Birkman Method, to a wide array of much more obscure testing methods, both for work and personal curiosity, I’ve tried to deep dive into what traits, tendencies, skills, weaknesses and emotional needs comprise the building blocks of the person I am.
The more I’ve taken, the more I’ve become intrigued by the prospect of gaining a stronger understanding of self. And not just the happy, pleasant, flattering, aspects of my personality, but also the less palatable ones as well.
I strongly believe that the beginnings of any sound life plan, and the accompanying financial plan that supports those overall life goals, arises from first acquiring a deeper understanding of ourselves, what drives and motivates us, as well as what pitfalls accompany our individual tendencies.
When we have sufficient insight, we have a strong foundation from which we can then formulate a financial plan that capitalizes on our strengths, talents and advantages, while mitigating the potential impact of our individual shortcomings.
So after taking the Self-Authoring program created by Dr. Jordan Peterson and his team, it was a no brainer to go ahead ahead and purchase the accompanying Personality Test as well. For a paltry cost of $9.95 USD (with plenty of coupon codes out there to bring it down to $7.95), and a mere 15 minutes or so to complete the 100 questions, it’s a relatively small investment of both money and time.
In hindsight, I would recommend doing them in the reverse order, but I didn’t realize the personality test was available until I was already well into the Self-Authoring program.
My intention in taking the test was to evaluate whether or not this paid version was any more insightful than the myriad free tests that are available online, and if it was something that would provide me with new or additional insights to further my exploration and goal setting in this Finding Freedom series.
As I discussed last week, Jordan Peterson has garnered a reputation as one of the more controversial thinkers of our time.
This particular product, like the Self-Authoring Suite, was created by Dr. Peterson, along with his partners, Dr. Daniel Higgins and Dr. Chris Pihl.
The test is comprised of 100 self-describing phrases, to which you provide a response indicating your level of agreement/disagreement in relation to your own perceived similarity.
The results are compared to a pool of 10000 other individuals answers, resulting in a unique and individualized report with respect to the Big 5 (Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience).
The Big 5 are further broken down into two sub-groups per category, resulting in a score and personality description for a total of 5 Primary Categories, and an additional 10 sub-categories.
What I Liked
I particularly liked that this test does not separate the comparison of your results by gender or by age range. Many tests do make this distinction, particularly those that measure the Big 5. And although that age/gender comparison is useful for providing a snap shot of your results when compared directly to a similar segment of society, it also really skews the larger picture comparison because the averages for men versus women in certain categories is substantially different, as is the average when age becomes a comparative factor.
I quite like the idea of being able to see where my personality traits rank in comparison to society as a whole, rather than segmenting into specific categories. I think from a goal setting perspective, it is a much more useful tool to see where your personality falls in the greater spectrum of society, rather than just your particular age and gender grouping.
I also liked how detailed and blunt the report is. I find personality tests are often tailored to focus much greater attention to what are considered societally accepted positive traits, minimizing and softening the language around those that may be perceived as less desirable.
I understand that this is because clearly identifying potential shortcomings and negative results are not always well received, but solely focussing on the positive and minimizing the “negative” provides a very skewed snapshot of our real selves. One that greatly limits are ability to proactively acknowledge ALL of our individual traits, and develop strategies that optimize those traits.
Realistically, any trait, if taken too far can become a negative, and conversely oft frowned upon traits like introversion or neuroticism, can be extremely advantageous when we aware of our own inclinations. This report does an excellent job of highlighting the pro’s and con’s of each trait, without bias towards some of the more socially acceptable attributes.
What I Didn’t Like
There was very little I didn’t like about this test. The process was quick, simple, accompanied by clear instructions on when (and when not) to take the test (which very much matters), and the resulting interpretations were very accurate.
I do think that the bluntness of some of the more negative personality associations could pose a stumbling block for people who aren’t familiar with personality tests in general.
Some of these descriptions can at first glance seem inaccurate and over exaggerated, but must be taken in context with the results as a whole, taking into consideration the overlap of many aspects of our personality.
This means if you rank high in one category, and therefore are described as having an associated trait to that ranking, the degree that trait appears in your personality can still be substantially influenced by rankings in other categories.
So if your test results within agreeableness say that you struggle to stand up for yourself, this trait may be mitigated (or heightened) by your degree of assertiveness.
While this is clearly explained in the FAQ’s on the website, it can be easily missed if you head straight for the test.
How I Scored
So what did my test results say about me? Here’s a brief breakdown of where I ranked (comparative to 10000 other people, as expressed in percentiles):
Agreeableness Moderately Low – 26%: (Compassion 36% / Politeness 21%)
Well in terms of Agreeableness, the test suggests I am a skeptical, untrusting, competitive individual, with low tolerance for excuses, and respect “only for those who deserve it”. Yikes!
Initially, I was surprised by this result. I do tend to behave like a rather agreeable, congenial individual, but when examining my results with total honesty, I’m forced to admit that the “agreeableness” I convey is not always mirrored by the internal dialogue going on in my head.
I’ve just learned, that in the interest of social relationships and workplace success, it’s often more productive to be a closet “disagreeable-er”.
So while I don’t generally see myself as a person of limited tolerance and patience, when I really step back and assess it, the test is quire accurate. I have extremely low levels of tolerance for a lack of competence, inefficiencies, or overall time wasters.
(Which, as it turns out, ties in strongly to my results in the next category.)
Politeness was a total shock to me. I mean really – I’m a Canadian….?!?
But in this realm, politeness is referring more to our likelihood to be deferential or obedient in response to authority. Or phrased another way, our comfort level and willingness to push back in the face of confrontation. This result made sense to me, while I will rarely seek out conflict, my natural instinct is definitely to rise to the occasion when/if the circumstances truly call for it.
Conscientiousness Very High – 91%: (Industriousness 88% / Orderliness 88%)
When it comes to conscientiousness, I fall at the far end of the spectrum, where it’s all about efficiency, attention to detail, planning and execution. While that’s all fine and dandy, and looks great on a resume, those exact same tendencies can also make one prone to being judgemental, over concerned with achievement, and react poorly to failure.
Of particular note to me was this little phrase that popped up in my results:
“They suffer very high levels of shame and guilt when unemployed or otherwise unoccupied…..”
Now isn’t that interesting? Maybe a worthy consideration for someone in my particular situation. I feel like I should maybe go re-read my Brene Brown books now……….
Extraversion Average – 47%: (Enthusiasm 21% / Assertiveness 73%)
When it comes to Extraversion I was pretty much smack dab in the middle. But interestingly, this average was only achieved through a super low ranking in enthusiasm, and a much higher ranking in assertiveness.
So while I am not at all inclined to be excitable, gregarious or seek out the spotlight (a nice way to say that I am most definitely not the life of the party), I am much more likely to be action oriented, perhaps with an obnoxious take-charge tendency (So if you have a to do list that needs to get done in order to HAVE the party….then I’m your girl).
Yup – so far, it all sounds about right.
Neuroticism Moderately High – 61%: (Withdrawal 53% / Volatility 63%)
Neuroticism is an interesting one. I land above average overall, but if the test were to factor in gender I would end up about smack dab in the middle for most women.
While I often put on a carefree veneer, much like my “social mask” of agreeableness, my internal dialogue suggests that I do tend to be a bit of a worry wart. Props to the test for picking this up.
Openness to Experience Moderately Low – 30%: (Intellect 60% / Openness 13%)
My rankings peg me as a person who is risk-averse, fears loss, and frequently has concerns about the bad things that may happen. Yes – I am a mom, so that’s a pre-requisite right?
It’s also not far off. I think when you look at our path to Financial Freedom, it tells the story loud and clear. It’s chalk full of risk mitigation and back-up planning. And even now we are financially free, and arguable have a substantial safety net, Mike and I are still incredibly cautious about our next financial moves. I’d say we would definitely fall into the hope for the best, plan for the worst category.
The whole report is summed up with a dismally low ranking in openness to experience, where I am clearly not a day dreamer (we knew that already), but am attracted to problem solving activities and non-fiction books (yah, we knew that already too).
What I Got Out Of This
Here’s the reality – by social standards, this test does not paint me as much of a “people person”.
The results suggest that I am neither a social butterfly, or a hardcore adventurer, but rather a pragmatic, perhaps a tad jaded person, who would prefer to spend their time knocking off a substantial to do list than taking time to expand my circle of friends.
But if I’m being completely honest with myself, I think it is all quite accurate. The test results resonate with my true self. I am not a people person. I can put on a good front, and have developed a strong “social mask”, but even when I’m trying to help those I care most about, I often express that care by doing something for them, rather than offering a compassionate listening ear. I absolutely prefer to keep my social circle small, and if given the choice between a cocktail party or curling up at home with a book – the book wins….every – single – time.
I also found the comments about my need for productivity and achievement particularly insightful. While my attention has been drawn to strong feelings of dissonance since retiring, this particular test has highlighted just how important that little piece is within my overall personality. It’s definitely going to be an area where, moving forward, I need to invest some serious time and focus into identifying how I can replace that piece without my traditional career.
But while I may not be suited for a wide range of people oriented jobs, my particular personality profile, both the good and the bad, undeniably strengthened and benefited my pursuit of Financial Freedom.
Conversely, it also becomes quite clear that where my tendencies are most likely to pose a stumbling block is in my post-FF reality, rather than the process of achieving it. I suspect there are many in the FIRE community with similar personality profiles, who will experience dissonance as they transition to Early Retirement.
The Bottom Line
Overall, taking this test was super helpful in highlighting key areas of my life (and personality) that I need to consider now that Mike and I have left our traditional jobs.
I know that Mike’s personality is very similar to mine, particularly in the category of conscientiousness, so this is an area we both need to be very alive to as we move forward.
After taking this test, I’ll certainly be much more mindful to provide careful consideration to those key personality traits as we mull over some upcoming financial ventures.
All in, this test was definitely worth the $7.95 purchase cost.
Have you considered taking a personality test to better prepare for your post-FF/FI life? Or have you already taken this test, or something similar? If so, let us know how the results have impacted your preparations, timeline, or goals for Financial Freedom.