Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Routines vs. Spontaneity (a.k.a. randomness): An INFP's Dilemma

Yes, I am an INFP according to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (personality test).  In otherwords, I am introverted, intuitive, and make decisions based on feelings and perceptions.  And I have a love-hate relationship with routines.

All of the Organized People in my life always preach to me upon the virtues of routines: they make your life easier, you'll be more efficient, you won't realize in June that you should have renewed your vehicle registration in January... blah, blah, blah.

It's not that I don't know they're right.  No, it's all true.  Routines do make my life easier.  I am more efficient when I use routines.  And I do remember to do important things more consistently when I am badgered by an organized to-do list.  (They also tend to keep my INFP self from Multiple-Project-Syndrome, in which I wander around the house distractedly starting, but never finishing, a variety of long and involved tasks until I get overwhelmed with the huge list of things I haven't finished, and sit down to read a book until it's time to go to bed.)

So, you may well ask, if routines are so great, why the dilemma?  Because they're, well... boring.

As an INFP, I am attracted to routines because I don't like to make decisions on the fly (I need to think them through for a good, long time first), and routines save me from having to do that.  What do I do next?  Why, wash the bathroom floor because that's the routine. 

However, also as an INFP, I eschew sameness, repetetiveness, etc. because I love living in the moment, doing something just because that's what I feel like doing right then.  Go to the store and buy an ice cream maker and ice cream ingredients, so we can make our own delicious homemade ice cream RIGHT NOW?  Why not?  It sounds like fun!

So I go back and forth -- establishing routines to make my life more organized and less stressful, and ignoring those routines because I'm tired of doing the same thing over and over again.

I suppose, like any other dilemma, the answer lies in balance.  Some routines, like planning dinner menus and making shopping lists, can bring solidity to my life without making me feel like I'm driving up and down the same street over and over again, looking for a way out.  Other things, I will probably never make a routine of, like laying my clothes out the night before for the following day.  I retain the right to make a last-minute decision change in what I want to wear!

I suppose I will continue to fall off the fence on one side or the other.  You might see me shaking my fist at routines as I spin off into spontaneity.  Or you might see my clinging to routines as to a life raft when the spontaneity makes me dizzy and sick.  Maybe someday, though, you might see me, arms outstretched, one foot in front of the other, a little shaky maybe, but slowly, carefully, finding my balance.