How often in your life has your personality changed? Benjamin Hardy makes the case that it certainly doesn’t have to stay the same in his book, “Personality Isn’t Permanent.” A bookish weapon for sure. I mean aren’t they all?
You tell yourself that you are who you are and there is nothing you can do about it. You tell others you are “authentic.” You took a personality test and that’s that. Well, this book will make you stop and rethink everything.
The Case Against Personality Tests
The first part of the book is a well thought out case as to why personality is not permanent. He presents you with stories of individuals that totally changed themselves. He debunks the intricacies of personality tests as myths. Myth number one is that they are personality “Types.” He says these are “social or mental constructions, not realities.” Did you know that personality testing is a $2 billion industry?
Personality tests label you and labels are not good. They create tunnel vision. He quotes a Harvard psychologist, Dr. Ellen Langer: “ If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration.”
He also quotes Dr, Katherine Rogers, a personality psychologist that said, “We know that personality doesn’t work in types….I wouldn’t trust Myers and Briggs to tell me any more about my personality than I would trust my horoscope.”
Personality Is Not Fixed
I found this section to be powerful. He once again quotes a Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert who says, “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished.”
Hardy says, “Your personality changes. It has changed and it will continue to change in the future. Consequently, it’s time to start thinking about who your future self is going it be. You don’t want to be surprised, or frustrated by where you’re at and who you become. You don’t want to leave your future self hanging due to neglect, bad planning, or poor decisions on the part of your present self.” He goes on to say that to say, It’s best to make decisions based on what your future, not your present, self wants.” Read that again. Then read it once more!
What to do?
Hardy says that you need to “…distinguish your present self from your future self. They aren’t the same person.” He continues, “The analogy of the future selfs another person may seem like a strange one, but it is rather powerful when it comes to understanding long term decision making.”
“Who you want to be in the future is more important than who you are now. Your intended future self should direct your current identity and personality far more than your former self does.”
Hardy thinks everyone should have a massive purpose. “Spending your days on activities leading you to something incredibly important, something you truly value, is how you live without regret.”
He advises to select one major goal and use it as a filter for everything else. “One goal creates focus. Focus creates momentum.”
The author advises us to use a journal. I like that as it is one of my four strategies in “Attacking Adversity.” While journaling he says to ask these questions: 1. Where am I now? 2. What were the wins from the past 90 days? 3. What are the ins I want from the next 90 days? 4. Where do I want to be in three years? 5. Where do I want to be in one year?
There is so much more to this book and that is why you should read it. Hardy discusses trauma and how it affects people. Also, the need for a professional counselor when you have no one else to “witness” your feelings. He discusses how to shift your life story so that when you tell people about you it is your future self that shines.