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"Just do it?" Maybe not if you're an introvert


Many people—usually extroverts—believe the introvert’s love of thinking means we’re not doers. So we try to counter that false perception by acting before we’re ready. The result? Instead of letting our ideas develop, we become obsessed with how they’ll fit into a spreadsheet.

We end up stuck, lacking inspiration, and being overwhelmed—all red flags that we're not honoring our need to think before we act.

Read on for a few ways in-our-heads introverts can balance the being with the doing.

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  • Todd Tyrtle

    I'm definitely an introvert. On Myers-Briggs tests I tend to come out as strong an introvert as one can possibly be. And I have to say that for most of my life the *thinking* part has been my biggest enemy. I'd have an idea, think it through a bunch of times and come up with so many imaginary ways for it to fail or be useless, I wouldn't do it.

    It took me YEARS to get it that that was happening. I was stuck because I was either finding a way my idea sucked, or had already concluded it. I had no inspiration because I shut down inspiring ideas before they were even born. If I did get a little further down in the process of developing my idea, I'd think it through so much that I'd be overwhelmed at all that I had to do to be sure it worked perfectly.

    A few things changed. A personal crisis, some improv classes, and eventually some successful implementation of ideas and I work with my ideas completely differently. I still am an introvert. You wont see me at a party, and if I've been out in a loud social situation, you'll probably find me in a comfy chair with a good book later, recharging. But when it comes to ideas I just go for it. The idea comes, and I run with it. I still let myself think, but the thinking comes *while* I'm making the idea happen. Do some ideas never fully come to fruition because I didn't think something through? Absolutely. Or they change, or they happen later. But for me the important thing is to NOT succumb to the urge to think things through. Do I think that a month-long bike trip with my teenage son on a tandem bicycle would be a good idea? Sure. Oh wait, we need a bike. And to train. And gear. And how do you even GET from Toronto to New York City? Ten years ago I would've sat quietly at my desk trying to answer all of these questions, decided that "HOLY COW! What happens if the bike BREAKS in the middle of rural Ontario?" and cancel the entire thing. In the end, I decided to do that trip as soon as the idea came to me. The details came to me later, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Why would I want to think my way out of another experience like that?

    So, at least for this introvert, thinking before I act is the enemy of doing interesting things.

    • April Greene

      So glad you wrote, Todd! I'm a strong extrovert myself, but have many introvert friends. Reading articulate descriptions—like yours here—of how our thought processes can differ really helps me understand them better and gets me to appreciate our different approaches. Thanks again for sharing (and glad to hear you've found a route to taking action that works for you)!