Everyone has their own version of what it feels like to be at their very best. For some, it’s being completely engrossed in a creative project. For others, it’s giving their heart away without feeling like they’re losing their individuality in the process. Still, others, it’s working hard, not for the money, but for self-growth. If you’re not quite sure what does it for you, look no further than your Enneagram type.
The Enneagram personality test, which some call the new Myers-Briggs, defines nine distinct types, which are essentially unique strategies for relating to yourself, others, and the larger world. In simple terms, the system seeks to understand your motivations for doing the things you do, what your vices are when you’re under stress and what your innate strengths are. It’s a path to deeper understanding and self-awareness.
Below, I’ve outlined what each type looks like at its very best — when you’re truly growing and thriving. If you’re new to the Enneagram game, take a free test here before reading on. (And let me know how accurate you think yours is in the comments!)
Okay, here we go. You’re at best when…
Type 1: You’re wise
Do you know a know-it-all? They’re probably a One; if it’s you, you probably are a One. The Reformer has a tendency to be perfectionistic and uptight. (You like organizing your life as efficiently and correctly as possible, thankyouverymuch, and make no apologies.) But at your best, your ~ways~ seem to transcend the rules and boxes others think you live for. When pressed for answers, your advice always seems golden. You’re incredibly ethical, and you’re also highly accepting of truths that fall outside conventional wisdom. You’re the type of person who doles out nuggets of inspiration to randoms at happy hour; the person all your friends call when they want a dose of insight before making a big decision.
Type 2: You’re empathetic
Does a friend need a mechanic? A cheerleader? A mover? Doesn’t matter, a Two (perhaps you?) is 100% there. The Helper can be overly giving. At times, others may feel you blur the lines between being kind and being self-congratulatory. At your very best, you give because you feel lucky to know the people you love, and you just want to see them thrive in whatever way possible. What’s best about the healthiest version of your personality? You also give to yourself. Self-care helps you do more for humanity, which is when you’re happiest. A positive feedback loop!
Type 3: You’re self-directed
Friends of Threes likely joke they are always at the office, or taking a loss in pick-up basketball way too seriously. Yes, you like to win, and everything that comes with it. The Achiever is the type-A workhorse of the enneagram. Diligent and sometimes concerned with appearance, you want to be successful… but you want others to notice your talent, as well. At your best, though, you completely lose the external driving force for your accomplishments. You are motivated to do what you love, simply because you love it. And you do it well because it gives you a sense of satisfaction. End of story.
Type 4: You’re Connected
You know that one person who always has an opinion and refuses to go along with what everyone else is doing? The Individualist is a dreamer and non-conformist. You are creative with a vivid inner world, seeing yourself as deeply different from your peers. When you’re at your best, though, you’re connected to humanity through your talent of creativity, able to empathize with others and feel a profound sense of compassion… not just otherness. You’re also producing artistically — whether for personal enjoyment, or for the world — which is where you feel most whole and alive.
Type 5: You’re Innovative
The Five is the one you can never lock down for a plan, because they’re always studying, reading or watching Netflix — on their own. You love your solitude like peanut butter loves jelly. The Investigator also has a huge mind, most of which you keep locked up behind closed doors and buried in books. When you’re not at your best, you keep your ideas (and your physical self) under lock and key; when you are healthy and well-rounded, you share your innovative work and improve society — whether it’s working on a groundbreaking piece of new research in your field, leading a startup toward funding, or leading a movement that sheds new light on old issues.
Type 6: You’re Dedicated
Sixes get a bad rap as boring; in reality, you’re the glue that keeps the ship — like all relationships — afloat. The Loyalist really lives up to the name: entirely stable and dependable, a great friend and solid partner. However… sometimes you can gravitate toward so much stability that you favor familiarity over personal growth. While you don’t have to be a wild child, you can take risks in one direction. You’re at your best when you’re pushing yourself to be vulnerable in a new relationship that might turn into something real, going for the job promotion you’ve been eyeing forever, or honing your hobby. Stable can be plenty exciting (for you).
Type 7: You’re Satisfied
We all know a Seven; they bring the sunshine after the rain, and the rain after a drought. If you’re a Seven, your friends know you as the living embodiment of fun, energy and spontaneity. The Enthusiast tends to chase after experiences. Literally. Every. Experience. While this can be a whole lotta fun in the short-term, mindless consumption can develop into a sense of restlessness, and you end up so consumed with The Next Big Thing that you don’t savor the moment. At your best, you‘re grateful for everything you have, with a deep perspective on what’s worth holding onto, all the while never losing your characteristic enthusiasm and love of novelty. You’re more satisfied when you’re sure of how good you have it; it just takes the occasional pause to get there.
Type 8: You’re Humble
Eights have a reputation for ruthless honesty and not the best social tact; you sometimes feel you *cannot* hold your tongue, and you’ve never met a fight you wouldn’t pick. (I mean, if you felt it was warranted!) The Challenger is the lion-like leader of enneagram. You’re passionate, brash, strong and courageous — the absolutely queen of the jungle, whether that’s at work, at home or socially. At your best, you’re still brave and tenacious, you’re just humble, as well. You’re not reactive. You’re calm and collected when you need to be, which actually helps you soar ahead at work and within your personal life. Keeping your cool (on a rare occasion) can go a long way in finding balance.
Type 9: You’re Patient
If a fight breaks out amongst friends, Nines are the ones playing mediator or therapist until the rift is undeniably patched. You, Peacemaker, really just wants everyone to get along, so much so that you can sometimes forget the opinions you have and the strong values you hold. At your best, though, you’re not just accepting and accommodating. You help hold others accountable. You’re able to speak your mind in a clear and kind way, being fully comfortable with your deeply-held beliefs on any issue, while also affirming your friends, family and colleagues as human beings. You’re the ultimate shoulder to lean on, without forgetting to be your own person.
Graphic by Madeline Montoya.