Caitlin Gilbert explains the challenges of being a big-picture thinker.
In a society that highly encourages self-awareness, we are all too eager to label ourselves as a particular class of human.
A large number of us rely on psychological quizzes and analyses to do the assessing for us.
Through credible sources, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, we are told our strengths and weaknesses, with the intent to point out areas for improvement and often to offer guidance when selecting a career.
Although they’re helpful, we really don’t need them to tell us what kind of person we are, whether it be left-brained vs. right-brained, type A vs. type B or detail-oriented vs. big-picture thinkers.
To be classified as a “big picture” kind of person can mean a variety of things. From a professional perspective, we are said to typically be more creative and visionary.
These are qualities that some of those aforementioned credible sources claim make for a good CEO (I’ll take it).
From our friends’ perspectives, we are admired for our spontaneity and often are the first people who come to mind for a last-minute invite to a concert or road trip.
Looking at our kind in a more unfavorable light, big-picture people also tend to be messy, disorganized and absent-minded.
I won’t argue that some of those are pretty accurate, but there is a certain beauty to these little vices. So, I’ve laid out a few real-world struggles of being a big-picture thinker:
1. Our optimism can go beyond reason.
Big-picture people often assume everything will work out in our favor.
This positive energy can be both infectious and encouraging to those around us, but there is also a likelihood that we’ll throw caution to the wind without thinking things through fully.
Although a cheery outlook is an invaluable thing to have, it’s important that we lift those rose-colored lenses from time to time and make sure we are being rational.
2. We are either paralyzed by possibility or overly ambitious.
There is no in-between; big-picture people are idealists. We, by nature, are very intuitive and therefore, are constantly weighing out our options.
We feel a strong need to take a step back to reassess where we are and where we will go from there. On the flip side of this, big-picture thinkers are hardwired to be go-getters.
The world is our oyster, and there isn’t anything we can’t do so long as we have the vision to make it happen. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
More often than not, we spread ourselves thin due to the fact that we are constantly coming up with new projects without paying attention to the details, like how much time we really have to devote to all of our pursuits.
3. We tend to overbook our social calendars.
This kind of ties in with the previous point, but with our constant exploration of the possibilities, we will commit ourselves to multiple social engagements. Sometimes this occurs within the span of a single day.
A typical day for a big-picture person may look something like this: cycling class with one friend at 9 am, brunch plans across town at 11 am, vague plans to go shopping with another group of friends afterward and then a verbal commitment to meet up at a pre-game downtown in the evening.
Now, I’d like to clarify that we don’t necessarily double-book ourselves. That type of person does this typically to keep his or her options open so as to go with the more attractive one.
No, we simply like to think we can do everything with that same borderline naïve idealism.
Most of our friends are aware of this so they try to rein us in with that patient understanding. “Do you really think that we’ll have time for all of that?” they say.
Thank you, friends, for loving us all the same and finding this endearing rather than exhausting.
4. Traveling with us gives our detail-oriented friends anxiety.
This should come as no surprise. Whenever a big-picture thinker goes on a trip with someone who is detail-oriented, there is bound to be some difference in traveler style.
With our lack of concern for following an itinerary (or even putting one together in the first place), coupled with the lackadaisical way in which we make any sort of travel arrangements in terms of early flight check-in or adequate packing, it’s inevitable that we will drive our detail-oriented friends crazy.
On the other hand, there will be instances when we’ll be a little annoyed by their nagging. However, from my experience, we are the perfect travel companions for one another.
Our tendency to be more visual and strategic enables us to plan our adventures in a higher-level sense. We dream up the perfect trip from the choosing of the destination to the sequence of activities.
Once we’ve outlined the vision for the trip in true wanderlust fashion, they will take it from there to fill in the details.
With their excellent ability to interpret whether something is manageable, our friends who are “details people” take our abstract planning and refine those ideas until they are practical. They then monitor the execution of the travel plans to make sure all goes smoothly.
But most importantly, let’s not forget the fact that us big-picture folks, with our “glass half full” mentalities, make the trip all the more enjoyable.
We’ll propose those spontaneous outings in the midst of our travels, but if we drift too far off course or outside the realm of possibility, they are sure to call us out. So, hats off to you, our more neurotic friends, for without you, we would all probably be taken.
To wrap things up in a nice little bow, the main message I want to convey here is this: No way of thinking is the right way.
In reality, the combination of these styles is what makes for the most beautiful partnerships.
Or, to put it so eloquently, different strokes for different folks.
Originally published at Elite Daily. Reprinted with permission.
Caitlin Gilbert is just a southern girl without a drawl living and working in Dallas, TX. She majored in Marketing at the University of Arkansas and enjoys anything involving good music and even better company. Dislikes include slow-walkers and bad listeners.
Photo: Stefan Insam/Flickr