In Defense of the Impractical

Ray and I could be poster children for the impractical. Our whole married life has been a reflection of this approach to life, from buying and selling antiques early in our marriage – not the most “practical” profession – to moving to Los Angeles from our town of Sherman, Texas – not the most practical of moves.

Alas, we did try once to operate with practicality in mind – we moved back from LA to Sherman shortly after my brother died, the person who had encouraged us to move there in the first place.  The Texas return seemed to make the most sense. After all, we owned a house outright and I took a perfect job for me: the executive director of a drug and alcohol prevention program. We made it exactly eight months. Despite economic security, we simply were not as happy as we had been in LA and we made the very impractical decision to move back there even if it meant we might have to toss burgers to make ends meet.

We have never regretted that decision to move back to Los Angeles (and we never had to toss burgers) though we do love Texas and eventually bought another home there so we could visit. But, for us, the return to LA was the right choice even though it involved a fair amount of risk.

A few years ago, I discovered a personality test online called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and Ray and I both took it. We came out with the exact same profile except for the extrovert/introvert scale. The Keirsey is like the Myers-Briggs and Ray scored as an ENFP and I scored as an INFP. The E and I are extrovert and Introvert, the N is intuitive, F is feeling, and P is perceptive. The gist is that these types of personalities are Idealists and they operate directly from intuition, feelings and perception, not logic.  Based on our personality types, if things don’t feel right, then we are just not going to do them for long, no matter how practical they may seem.

So, tonight a friend of mine from LA was telling me that she didn’t know what her next career move should be. She said she would love to stay in LA, but it might be more practical to move somewhere cheaper since she’s not sure what job she’ll be getting. My response, “Call Ray or me if you want support to go with the impractical choice.”

Sometimes the most logical choice simply isn’t the right choice. Particularly if you have another option that you really would rather choose but are having troubling justifying. I know from our many years of trying to decide whether we should live in Texas or California. On a pros and cons list, Texas won hands-down. This was where we owned property outright, where our family was and where life was easier on a day-to-day basis. However, as Idealists, California holds an intangible allure for both of us. LA is the land of dreams and despite the fact that many people end up waiting tables rather than becoming movie stars, there is a “Go West, Young Man” spirit that permeates the city. Many people there have actively chosen not to operate out of practicality, but rather from their dreams. They may not “make it” in the way they expected, but they have the satisfaction of having tried.

Ray and I returned to LA with no idea how we were going to make money. The only thing we knew was that we wanted to live in LA. The money has come – even if the recession nearly killed us – and we have made friends with lots of people who are as crazy as we are in terms of jumping off the cliff and seeing where we’ll land.

If the practical feels right, by all means make that choice; but if it doesn’t, then trust your intuition and go where your heart leads you.  Sometimes a little risk can make all the difference.  Sometimes, it can change the course of your entire life.

Here is the Keirsey link, if you’re interested.  You can take the temperment sorter test for free. http://www.keirsey.com/

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