Using the OCEAN Big 5 to get more out of life

Find out where you are on the scale of OCEAN (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness) and neuroticism to help guide your life.

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Self-examination and living a good life go hand-in-hand.

Aristotle said knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Understanding your internal world before projecting yourself externally is key.

It starts with your personality and how you react to certain life situations and experiences.

Where you thrive and where you come up short are both personality driven.

But your personality is not one homogeneous lump. Instead, it’s made up of a collection of traits that make you uniquely you.

Knowing these traits are key to understanding your personality type.

And the best way of understanding your personality type is by doing the OCEAN Big 5 test.

Forget the Myers-Briggs personality test. Use it for fun if you like but don’t depend on it for accuracy.

OCEAN is the acronym for;

  1. Openness
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extraversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism

These are the five fundamental traits that make up a personality. All of which are stable, reliable and heritable.

In other words, they’re accurate and they don’t change much.

Knowing where you fit on each OCEAN scale gives you power. The power to understand yourself and, more importantly, what kind of situations you’re more suited to.

The individual OCEAN elements are.


How open are you to new experiences and ideas? Are you curious, intellectual and creative? Do you enjoy exploring concepts and perspectives?


Are you organized, punctual and enjoy being dependable? Are you achievement-orientated and industrious?


Are you positive, enthusiastic and enjoy people and social situations?


Do you get anxious, irritable and moody? Are you insecure and do you worry a lot?


Are you compassionate, polite and don’t feel the need to be competitive? Do you prefer cohesion over disagreement?

All of these traits work on a scale.

You are not 100 percent of any but instead, you’re a mix of all of them. Some traits you’re stronger in than others.

Other than Neuroticism, which is a negative trait, the rest are considered positive. But too much of one can lead to an imbalance elsewhere.

Being too high in Openness means you’re adaptable to change but you can never focus on one thing.

High in Conscientiousness means you’re dependable but you’re also too much of a perfectionist.

High in Extraversion means you’re great with people but hate spending time alone by yourself.

High in Agreeableness means you work well with others but you’re also a push-over.

This is my OCEAN personality test.

ocean personality test

When it comes to Agreeableness, most people who know me will say I’m not particularly agreeable but I can reframe this to mean I’m no push-over, either.

If you ever need someone in your corner who is competitive and has a dislike for authority then pick the person who’s low in Agreeableness.

Do I have to be conscious of it and work on it? Of course I do.

When I add the remaining OCE-N, my personality type is straight-forward:

I like exploring subjects, concepts and ideas, doing a good job and being around people. Just don’t tell me what to do.

Do the OCEAN Big 5 personality test to understand yourself

Are you good at being honest with yourself?

You need to be when you do the Big 5 OCEAN test.

Don’t fill it out based on the idealized version of yourself and instead be brutally honest. You are not perfect.

Learn where your strengths and weaknesses are and where you stand on the OCEAN scale.

From that, apply what you’ve learnt to your life and how you operate in the world.

You can do the test here.


Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are (Oxford Landmark Science)
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • Daniel Nettle
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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