When you think about the word “extrovert,” what comes to mind?

If you are like most people, you probably think that an extrovert is someone who is loud and gregarious – the kind of person who is comfortable in any social situation. The truth is somewhat more complicated.

For most of our lives, we are forced to adapt. When we are climbing the corporate ladder, we don’t have a choice whether to interact with other people. We are expected to be friendly and charming and, for the most part, we succeed. But, just because you are “good with people” doesn’t mean that you are an extrovert.

In fact, a few weeks ago, I spoke with a psychologist friend of mine who helped to clear up the whole introvert/extrovert distinction. He explained to me that an extrovert is actually someone who is energized by groups of people and an introvert is someone who is drained by others. In other words, it’s not about social ability. It’s about what gives us energy.

Why do I mention this here? Because, in my opinion, self-awareness is a key to happiness after 60. Many of us are still following the habits that we established during our working years.

Now that we are approaching retirement age, we have the opportunity to choose a path that makes us truly happy.

Think about yourself for a second. Do you feel energized when you are around other people? Or, do you recharge when you are by yourself? Maybe it’s time to recalibrate your daily activities to match your true personality. Instead of thinking that being an extrovert is “good” because it makes you more social, examine what makes you truly happy. If you really are an extrovert, great! But, I suspect that there are plenty of introverted women out there that could benefit from some serious “me time.”

What do you think about this? Please take a look at the questions below and join the conversation.

Do you think that it is possible to be an introvert in some situations and an extrovert in others? Or, do you believe in the “energy” explanation of introversion/extroversion? Do you think that knowing whether we are an introvert or an extrovert helps us to understand ourselves better? Why or why not?

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