How Knowing My Human Design Helps Me Get More Sh*t Done
The day I found out I was a Virgo rising, it felt like major news. I knew I had never fully jibed with my Gemini sun sign anyway, and now I could finally put a word to my detail-oriented, shy side. The moment I calculated my Myers-Briggs type and found I'm an INFJ—the rarest personality type, thank you very much—was equally revelatory.
These descriptors feel like little badges of honor. They may not change the way I present myself in the world, but they provide a framework for analyzing some of my patterns and tendencies.
A few months ago, I started to hear rumblings about another kind of personality indicator, called human design, that promised to yield new insights. Wary of taking yet another test (after a while, I think it becomes tedious to place yourself into all these different frameworks), I put off getting a reading until last December, when I found Erin Claire. Claire specializes in using human design to help people be more effective in the workplace. Intrigued, I signed up for a consult.
What is human design?
First established in 1989 by a mystic named Ra Uru Hu, the system operates off the idea that we are all born with a specific design, and it's our life's mission to cater to it. "When we're operating according to our design, there's a lot more flow and success," Claire explained. "When we're out of line, there's more resistance and frustration."
To calculate your human design (you can find out yours using an online calculator, like this one), you'll need your birth date, time, and location. The resulting chart is a slightly intimidating map of numbers and symbols arranged on a human figure. It's split into two sides: personality, the behaviors you probably identify with, and design, your subconscious tendencies.
In the two months since my reading, I’ve definitely found myself knocking off my to-do list faster, and being more intentional about what makes it on there in the first place.
Though I noticed some similarities between my human design and my natal chart, on the surface human design tends to have more specific, granular take-aways than astrology. During my reading, Claire gave actionable advice on everything from how I could be a more effective leader, communicate my ideas, make better decisions, and hack my work environment to be more productive.
It's no surprise that human design is starting to appeal to the corporate sector. It doesn't feel as esoteric as other readings, and it lends itself to personalized productivity tips. "What I've found working with companies is people are beyond ready for this," says Claire, who counts the CEOs of Monday and HER USA as her clients.
In the two months since my reading, I've definitely found myself knocking off my to-do list faster and being more intentional about what makes it on there in the first place.
What do you learn in a human design reading?
At the highest level, there are four main personality types in human design: About 70 percent of the population is made up of builders (people who are best at executing a vision and bringing ideas to life); 20 percent of us are advisers (people who guide others and choreograph the process); 9 percent are innovators/manifesters (people who get the ball rolling); and 1 percent are reflectors/evaluators (they basically serve as mirrors for those around them).
In my reading, I learned that I'm a manifesting generator, a type of builder who has a knack for bringing things into being quickly and efficiently.
"You wake up each morning with a motor, and your job is to use that energy in super-satisfying ways so you can go to bed and wake up recharged," Claire told me.
As we dove deeper in my design, I listened to her rattle off fact after fact about me: “Sometimes there can be a tendency for you to race to the finish line, but you can miss some steps along the way." Yep. "You are always riding an emotional wave." Yes. "You have a flexible identity and can feel different around different people. Your sense of self can be very fluid." "You have a flexible mind and look at things from different angles." "You can get lost in your to-do list and lose sight of what's actually important." Yes, yes, yes.
While this information wasn't necessarily earth-shattering, hearing it said aloud reinforced what I instinctively knew to be true but wasn't acting on: I need to slow down, not say yes to things so easily, and conserve my energy for projects I'm really excited about. In the workplace, I need to multitask less and allow myself to explore different viewpoints more.
The session ended with some questions to ask myself from time to time, which I've found helpful in staying on track: How does it feel to let go of my need to respond right away? Where do you notice yourself feeling frustrated throughout the day?
"You are meant to be lit up by what you're working on—that's how you can inspire others," Claire said to end the reading. It may not be the most original advice ever, but it's certainly something to work toward.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.