What Type of Career Changer Are You?

Enneagram_which_type_of_career_changer_are_you_resized

We’re all unique and infinitely complex.  And yet, at the same time, we also share certain patterns of behavior with some of our other unique and infinitely complex fellow human beings.

The Enneagram is my favorite tool for understanding these archetypical patterns.  It divides up all personalities into 9 types and offers a model for understanding the motivations, fears, desires, and patterns of behavior for each type.

It’s amazingly nuanced and powerful.  That’s why I love the Enneagram.  I don’t love the fact that it’s so hard to know how to pronounce (enn-ee-uh-gram), or how difficult it is to explain its cryptic symbol, but I do love the way it helps people find a way forward.

Why It Matters

We’re not as special as we think we are, at least not when it comes to our challenges.  Though it can often feel like we’re the only ones who struggle in the way we do, that’s hardly ever the case.

I find that people in career change tend to get tripped up around a common set of issues that can be understood and explained through the Enneagram.

Identifying these shared issues can be extremely helpful—in better understanding ourselves, in realizing that we’re not alone in our challenges, and in pointing to ways to overcome them.

So without further ado, here’s a quick description of each of the Enneagram types in relation to career change:

Type 1: The Reformer***

Overview:

Ones are conscientious, principled, and driven.  They’re often looking for work that makes the world a more ethical place and that challenges them to be the best people they can be.  They’re very concerned about doing the right thing, making constant improvements, and getting others to do the same.

Where They Get Stuck:

Ones want to get things right, so they often get stuck in career change because they’re not willing to risk making a mistake.  This often involves paralysis in decision-making, or bouncing back-and-forth between options without being able to decide.  It can also show up as resistance to taking any action towards making a change.

The Way Forward:

Ones do well when they learn to relax (massage is a wonderful thing for a One!).  They need to learn how to let themselves make mistakes and even fail, trusting that the world won’t fall apart if they do.  Finally, they benefit from learning how to get in touch with their feelings, which they often try to control or ignore, thus missing out on what their emotions have to say about their innate desires.

Type 2: The Helper

Overview:

Twos are empathetic, warm-hearted, and generous about doing things for others.  They’re all about love and connection and therefore often want find work that’s social and allows them to care for other people.

Where They Get Stuck:

Twos can get stuck when they become so focused on others’ needs and desires that they’re unaware of their own.  They might stay in a position longer than is healthy because they feel needed, or they might not allow themselves to go after what they really want because they see it as selfish.  Twos are also prone to burnout because they don’t prioritize their own self care.

The Way Forward:

It’s helpful for Twos to learn to pay attention to their own needs and desires and give themselves permission to fulfill them first, before taking care of others.  They benefit from realizing that it’s actually better for everyone involved when they put their own oxygen mask on first.  When they pay attention to what they want and do more of what nourishes them, Twos often discover great passion and clarity about what they want to do in the world.

Type 3: The Achiever

Overview:

Threes are self-assured, charming, and competent. They often seek work that allows them to shine.   Frequently ambitious, they like to win.

Where They Get Stuck:

Threes often spend more energy pursuing traditional measures of success than defining what is really meaningful to them.  Being multi-talented, they can get sidetracked by what they’re able to achieve and lose sight of what they want to accomplish.  In short, Threes can struggle to know what matters most to them.

The Way Forward:

It can be helpful for Threes to learn how to stop doing and start simply being so that they can get to know themselves more deeply.  They can do this by taking breaks, doing things that are fun rather than productive, and taking time for activities like meditation or journaling.  It can also be helpful for Threes to re-familiarize themselves with their feelings, which contain big clues to what really matters to them.

Type 4: The Individualist

Overview:

Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and highly creative.  They’re able to dig deep into their inner world, learn about the human experience, and share what they find with others.  Having meaningful work is important to them, and they tend to do well in jobs that allow for self expression.

Where They Get Stuck:

Fours sometimes struggle with feeling vulnerable and defective, so they can become reluctant to take risks, pursue their passion, or share their creativity with the world.  They tend to disengage with others and retreat inward.  They can get stuck in their own heads where they discount their own abilities and create fantasies that make everything in the real world pale by comparison.

The Way Forward:

Fours do best when they get out of their heads, into their bodies, and out into the world.  When they develop more discipline in their work habits, share their creativity with others, and let themselves produce work that’s less than brilliant now and then, they can answer a true calling and find joy in what they do.

Type 5: The Investigator

Description:

Fives are independent, insightful, and innovative. They’re curious and want to understand how things work.  They tend to seek work that allows them to investigate and develop novel ideas and capabilities.

Where They Get Stuck:

Fives can get stuck in their heads.  Without access to their feelings and “gut”, they can struggle to know what option feels right to them.  In addition, they can put off taking action while they endlessly “prepare.” Anxiety takes hold as they get stuck trying to think through every possibility before doing anything.

The Way Forward:

Fives often benefit from reconnecting with their bodies through activities like jogging, dancing, or yoga.  In this way, they get out of their heads and in touch with their intuition. Connecting with others and hearing their point-of-view can also be very helpful.  With a wider perspective, Fives often find great clarity and confidence in their path forward, without having to overthink it.

Type 6: The Loyalist

Overview:

Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy.  They’re concerned about security and are often good at anticipating problems.  They work well on teams, want to make a positive contribution through their work, and enjoy supporting others.

Where They Get Stuck:

Sixes tend to forget that things might go well and exclusively focus on what might go wrong.  They get anxious, worried, and indecisive.  They don’t trust their guts.  They get stuck because they’re not sure what they should choose, they’re too overwhelmed to take action, or they worry that no option is going to turn out well.

The Way Forward:

It can be helpful for Sixes to find ways to quiet their minds, through meditation, exercise, or creative activity.  Sixes are also helped by paying attention to their successes and noticing where the universe is supporting them—realizing that it’s not all up to them to make things turn out okay.  Sixes have phenomenal inner guidance, when they are quiet enough to hear it and courageous enough to trust it.

Type 7: The Enthusiast

Overview:

Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, and versatile.  They constantly seek new and exciting experiences.  They tend to look for jobs that are dynamic, busy, and novel.

Where They Get Stuck:

Sevens sometimes have a hard time staying still because they don’t want to be trapped in a negative experience.  They can be impulsive and impatient, not giving themselves time to settle in or learn new skills.  They often have a hard time making career decisions because they second-guess their choices, wondering if something else wouldn’t be better, more exciting, or more enjoyable.

The Way Forward:

It can help Sevens to appreciate what they already have and learn that negative experiences and feelings are part of life, and that they don’t last forever.  By developing the ability to believe in their own ability to learn and handle challenges, they’re more able to stay with one thing and deepen their engagement with it.  And by learning how to reconnect with a deeper guidance than what they think will be exciting, Sevens get clarity about what they want and what path is right for them.

Type 8: The Challenger

Overview:

Eights are decisive, strong, and assertive. They like to be in control of their environment and even other people.  They’re willing to do just about anything to protect those they care about and often seek work that allows them to lead, advocate, or fight for justice.

Where They Get Stuck:

Eights have a hard time admitting that they don’t know the answer, so when faced with uncertainty about their next step, they have a hard time letting themselves explore.  They think they already have it figured out, and can be reluctant to take in new ideas.  They also have a hard time admitting that they may have made a wrong turn somewhere.

The Way Forward:

It can be good for Eights to wait before taking action so that they can consider different perspectives and allow new answers to emerge.  Similarly, it can be helpful when Eights allow themselves to admit that they don’t have the answer—at least not yet—and to sit in uncertainty until things become clearer.

Type 9: The Peacemaker

Overview:

Nines are accepting, optimistic, and supportive.  They often prefer social jobs and are good at working with other people.  They dislike conflict and frequently play the role of keeping the peace.

Where They Get Stuck:

Sometimes Nines put off making big changes in their careers because they don’t want to rock the boat.  They can struggle with procrastination and lack of follow through. Also, Nines are great at putting their talent and energy to work building somebody else’s dream, but they don’t often pay attention to developing their own vision.  As a result, when Nines want to make a career change, they often have no idea what would make them happy and put off taking action that would disrupt the status quo.

The Way Forward:

The opportunity for Nines is to turn their spotlight of attention inward, paying attention to themselves and their own needs, desires, and intentions.  (Exercise can be a great way for Nines to increase awareness of the feelings and body.)  Routines, structure, and support can also be key for Nines to step into action now that risks making waves in their lives or the lives of others.

Find Out What Type of Career Changer You Are

If you’re still not sure what type you are, go to www.enneagraminstitute.com and take one of their assessment tests.  I recommend the RHETI, either the free or the full-length version.

Find Your Own Way Forward

If you’re having a hard time finding work you love, it may be that your personality is getting in the way.  Not to worry—it’s not your fault you have this personality, but it is your choice of what you do about it. I offer individual and group coaching programs at various levels of investment that can help you learn how to work with your personality’s patterns to unlock you innate gifts and find your true calling.  Click here to request a free Clarity Call to talk about your needs, learn more about these programs, and find out how you can find the work you’re meant to do in the world.

***Some of the general information about each type is adapted from the Enneagram Institute website, which has a wealth of other information and resources.


If you liked this post, you can sign up for my newsletter in the box below and share it with others using the buttons that follow.  If you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change for free every other week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge