If you ask some of the most successful bloggers and also cut out the fraction of those who are not in debt, you will find that a substantial fraction of them (more than 30% when I asked) have the INTJ personality type. Although this sample is to an extent self-selected, it is still an order of magnitude higher than the frequency of INTJs in the general population, which is closer to 1-2%, one the rarest types of the 16 types.

I am an INTj, that is, I am strongly introverted; I am “intuitive”, that is, I think in abstract rather than concrete terms, thinking about the links and connections between the things rather than the things themselves; and I am logical/not emotional, but I only have a weak need to have things settled (the small j). In Big5 terms, I am very conscientious (more than 95% of the population) but score very low on the neurotic scale (less than 5% of the population).

In more vernacular terms, here’s what I think helped me to achieve and “survive” my current stay-at-home semi-retired lifestyle.

  • I have no problem being alone for long periods of time. In fact, I always wondered why prison isolation cells are thought to be such a harsh punishment; I would think having to endure the cafeteria at breakfast for extended periods of time would be the worst. Or perhaps a surprise birthday party; do they do those in prison?
  • I am very pragmatic, very flexible, and not easily frustrated. If a problem is unsolvable, I simply change the problem and solve another one. I have noticed the reverse in a lot of people; “a lot” comes from the observation that I’m already out in the “left field”, therefore most people are to my “right”, relatively speaking. For instance, if they have a square peg for a round hole, they will get endless frustrated and hammer at it all day instead of just tossing the square peg and start looking for a round one: I can’t live without my car. I need, no neeeeeeeed, airconditioning, otherwise I can’t wear this suit which was developed for a much colder climate and doesn’t really fit here, but that doesn’t matter because I’m stuck in my ways. Changing my mind is such a sacrifice. Think of the children! Oh, the humanity!
  • I am very flexible about life in general (more flexible than the impression I give on this blog, I think 😉 ). I have never had a specific goal other than “doing interesting things followed by dying within a century or so”.  Thus most of my choices revolve around creating more choices (choices = freedom) rather than painting myself into a corner. I have lived in three countries (so far). I have lived in a dorm  room with 18 other people on the floor. I have lived in a big ~1500+ sqft house. I now live in a 289 sqft RV. Interestingly enough, I know from experience that extra space does not result in additional happiness, just additional cost. I think I adapt pretty well to things; and did I mention a high frustration tolerance (except when it comes to small talk) 😉
  • I have no problems entertaining myself for extended periods of time. Think back on your summer holidays—probably the last time most people had “nothing” to do for more than a few weeks—did you long to go back to school or camp or could you go on entertaining yourself and making projects forever? Do you do things on the weekends or do you just watch TV or shop? Even after quitting my job, I still fill like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

While these personality traits are not required for early retirement, they are sufficient. It would be interesting to see another take on this. I know that although many early retires are similar, it does not hold for all. What do you think?