This summer I went to family camp with my daughters for our tenth year in a row. I love family camp, but I don’t do it like most people. Whereas my daughters (and many grownups) love to do all kinds of activities all day and night, I like to take the week to really unplug and relax. I purposely pick the last cabin in the row so I can safely sit out front by the lake and read without a million people walking by wanting to chat. And although I enjoy the group meals and love swimming and having campfires with the awesome people there, I really cherish the alone time to recharge my batteries.
Not Your Typical Beach Read
While I was at camp, I read The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Buelow. Not your typical beach read, I know, but I actually read self help books for fun! Although I have chosen a profession that is all about talking to people and working with others, I am an introvert who enjoys plenty of downtime, so a lot of things in this book resonated with me.
I have a hard time with constant meetings, and the need to be super accessible and responsive at all times. And although I really love being around people, and getting the chance to talk about deep issues, I also need the time and space to be alone.
Ask For What You Need
One of the challenges I find in my own life (and with many of my clients) is to recognize my needs, and build my work life accordingly. In a way, I am lucky to be an entrepreneur, as it allows me to work alone at home often, set my own hours, and dictate my schedule.
For those of you who are introverts in an office setting, it can be more challenging to protect your peace (it was for me anyway). However, feel free to block off work time so your days aren’t filled with back-to-back meetings. Or make a friendly but firm Do Not Disturb sign for your door when you need quiet. If you’re really lucky, maybe you can even convince your boss to let you work from home every once in a while!
And if you’re not an introvert? Well, then you need to set up a work life where there is the opportunity to process with others, connect with colleagues, and get energy from being surrounded by people.
Don’t Sweat the Label
The Introvert Entrepreneur reminds us that introversion has nothing to do with friendliness or social skills. In fact, people are generally shocked to hear that I’m an introvert. Being an introvert is no better or worse than being an extrovert, it’s just different. But understanding those differences – and working with them instead of against them – can help you stay happier at work.
As important as it is to build self awareness and understand your own needs, it is equally important to be aware of other people’s styles, and learn how to give them what they need as well. Join me next week when we’ll explore that!
Until then, I’ll be here at the end of the row enjoying the peace and quiet.