People who score high on self-direction want to chart their own course through life. They value independent thought and action. They think critically about tradition and norms. They are motivated by choice, creation (not just artistically), and exploration. They are often drawn to the ideals of rugged individualism and liberty.
People who value self-direction have an underlying motivation towards competence, mastery, and personal meaning. It is thus important to them that their work provides them the necessary pathways to develop and master a skill that also serves as a piece of their identity. These people cannot separate personal meaning from their work and so cannot do a meaningless job that helps them live for the weekend.
Self-directed people might struggle with taking direction and will often question authority. While this can be adaptive in contexts where authority is misguided or unwillingly imposed, it can also make it difficult for self-directed people to find harmony with people and systems that require a certain level of conformity. It’s important for these people to pick their battles wisely. Not every institution or norm requires the energy of dissent, and they might find themselves socially isolated or emotionally exhausted if they challenge too many systems in their life.
If self-directed people find themselves in environments that require constant compliance, they will feel aggravation, dissatisfaction, and lethargy. These people will be aided in learning to live with some level of required conformity and balancing that out with finding hobbies and work that allow them to exercise creative control in their life with minimal supervision. In a world where compliance often is required for institutional success (e.g., working your way up the corporate ladder), these people might need to take the road less travelled to find their happiness.