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Current Residence: Montana
Favorite genre of music: A little of almost everything
Operating System: Windows 7
Wallpaper of choice: Homemade
Favorite cartoon character: It varies
Personal Quote: Be careful what you pray for; you'll probably get it
Every MBTI type has needs that pertain to the individual’s function stack. For an INFP like myself, those needs include a dream and someone to help me fulfill that dream. If I don’t have something about which I am allowed to be passionate almost to the point of irrationality, I grow listless.
The ISTJ also has specific needs, and it is on these needs that this analysis will focus. I was raised by an ISTJ and share my functions with this type. And I am presently reading a biography on the ISTJ Myers and Briggs most likely looked to when comprising their analysis and summary on the type: George Washington. Between the father of our country and my own father, I hope to be able to accurately assess what the ISTJ requires most.
The ISTJ is known by such nicknames as the Administrator, Protector and Dutiful. This type tends to be quite traditional and obedient, but with an underlying rebellious streak. Like all types, the ISTJ is complex and paradoxical. His dominant function being Si, he craves the familiar. He is often hesitant to proceed without a clear model to follow. He tends to dislike spontaneity and distractibility. He needs a routine to follow, lest he feel like he’s losing control. And yet at the same time, he manages to surprise himself with how free and happy he feels when, on those rare, special occasions, he throws out the schedule and decides to wing it. Te being the ISTJ’s auxiliary function, he is a natural born leader with a slew of ambitions. He wants to make something of himself. He feels he has something to prove to the world, and he is always keenly aware of how future generations will perceive him. He wants to set a positive example in order to guide future leaders. His tertiary function is Fi, and this gives him a sense of compassion, justice and sympathy. He keeps a tight rein on Fi, the most emotional of functions, but he may have a difficult time keeping Fi from manifesting rage when he perceives an injustice against himself or those in his charge. His inferior function being Ne, the ISTJ can often be frustratingly indecisive, especially as he approaches middle age. And no one is more frustrated with this weakness than the ISTJ himself. Ne can cause a mid-life crisis as the ISTJ reflects over missed opportunities that he had previously dismissed as trivial. On the positive side, Ne also provides the spontaneity that brings a much needed release of life’s cares at the times the ISTJ most needs a break.
Unlike the INTJ, who will drive himself into the ground to achieve any number of goals, the ISTJ tends to oscillate between contentedness and ambition. There are many points in an ISTJ’s life when he feels like he has arrived, and can settle into a familiar, comfortable pattern of a life fulfilled. But this never lasts long, and soon the ISTJ is up and running again, pursuing one more goal he had forgotten about. This, along with a sense of obligation caused by Te’s protective nature, is why ISTJs may have a hard time retiring, especially from public service. The ISTJ sees work as a lifelong obligation. It is not enough to have a career for 45 years, cash in on the 401k, then retreat to the Bahamas to live out one’s days in leisure. The ISTJ needs something to keep busy. Not something that demands his undivided attention, from which he cannot take an occasional break. But certainly something that will allow him to continue to feel useful and needed. In short, the ISTJ needs a project.
For George Washington, that project was Mount Vernon. While he helped build America, he was more than happy to turn that project over to younger, equally capable hands. But Mount Vernon had been his pet project from the time his older brother Lawrence died, before he had even gained full control of the estate. He was constantly finding ways to expand and improve his property, even designing a specialized grain threshing barn that proved far more efficient than traditional threshing methods. It was important to him that Mount Vernon stand out as a well managed, wealthy and beautiful estate, admired by neighbors and considered a paradise to his family. Washington had no end goal for Mount Vernon. He didn’t need one. Finding ways to continuously improve his property gave him joy enough. Indeed, no ISTJ really requires an end goal. He wants the security to be content where he’s at, but also the freedom to advance as he wishes.
For my own father, his project seems to be finding an unspecified dream career. Job hunting is more a hobby for him, as are bushcrafting and camping. He loves the idea of living well below his means, while at the same time being secure in a large home he wishes to one day build with his own hands. If one day he is able to achieve his dream home, he will almost certainly never stop finding ways to improve it. He never wants to feel like his work is completely done. To him, there is always something else to achieve, and he enjoys that pursuit of endless dreams. He believes strongly that one of man’s primary purposes in life is to work. But he also understands the importance of rest and reflection.
The ISTJ is a fairly common type. Odds are, you have an ISTJ in your life. It is important that you give your ISTJ what he needs to be happy and healthy. Encourage your ISTJ in his pursuits and projects, and be sure he takes adequate breaks. Never take his projects for granted or call them unimportant or trivial. Do these things, and you will have an ISTJ who is content whether he is at rest or at work.