This amazing post was written by Aelthwyn on Personality Cafe. I asked her if I could post it because it truly speaks to exactly what I desire in a career and my very feelings were echoed around the board.
When you’re done here, look at the article by Helen Marriot that was inspired by this post: Look for Perfect and then Compromise.
The cunundrum I think a lot of us have is that it’s hard for us to do what we love for a living because it frequently requires us to go by other people’s guidelines and ideas and such, which makes it no longer our own creative expression and cheapens it for us. And if we do that all the time we want to do something else in our free time, so we don’t end up ever really getting into our flow and feeling really alive in the activities we love. However, we also have a hard time doing something that isn’t something we really love and believe in because then we are pouring our time and energy into something that doesn’t matter and that leaves us empty.
Likewise, we are neither interested in directing others nor following directions. The trouble for us with this is that most of the time being in charge of your own work/business requires practical knowlege, organization, and ability to get out there and convince others they need your goods/services – none of which are our strong point. We also tend to like security, which entreprenuership doesn’t often have. Not to sound too bleak, but it feels like a catch 22 as they say.
What we really need is someone interested in helping us in the practical matters of personal business, or as mentioned above being part of a small company where we can be seen as individuals, have a caring family feel, and have a chance to be recognized for our creativity and inginuity without having to be too bold or have authority over others. Other than that, what we need are Patrons, someone rich who wants to help support us so that we don’t have to worry about the mundane money-making aspect of life.
A lot of us Idealists probably find money a rather unworthy goal, and thus have a hard time with almost any job setting (even if it seems initially to be something we like) because a lot of time it starts to feel like it’s all coming down to money – how much work can they get out of us, how much money can we get out of them….and that just clashes with our value system. In a sense it starts to feel like baking brownies every day when you don’t like chocolate – why am I doing this again? I don’t even really care about this!
I think the common reccommendation that INFPs would like to work in people oriented service jobs is a bit off the mark. We do usually care about others and enjoy showing our care, but we are still introverts and we don’t generally like a lot of shallow interactions – which means that service jobs may be fullfilling and draining at the same time. I think we are much more likely to feel fullfilled serving a small number of people that we know well, such as family and friends. Honestly, I’ve always thought my ideal job would be either as a nanny or a stay-at-home mom. I love to invest in a few people who are close to me, and enjoy taking care of things for others – being the behind the scenes support system for those that do go out and do other things.
I definately don’t have any good answers to this Ultimate INFP dilemma, I’m going through this myself. A couple years ago I felt like I’d lost my soul working in a book store (hey it sounded great, I love books and I was back in the stockroom alone wih my own music, sounds good….but the burden of more and more procedures, and pressure to be more and more productive, and negative managers sucked me dry of life and creativity). I’m still attempting to get my own sewing/craft business going, and wanting to look into photography but feeling overwhelmed by that.
I think perhaps a lot of us could use a good career counselor who understands and respects our needs, but knows a lot of possibilities and can make the connections for us that are hard for us to make ourselves. sigh…..
Something I did at one point shortly after quitting my old job was to make a list of things that I really needed in a job – not interests, but practical aspects.
Some of the things I found important for me were (in no paticular order):
Working on Projects Alone – I don’t do well in groups, I either end up doing all of it, or get totally ignored.
Autonomy – I hate being constantly directed, I want to see what needs to be done and do it in my own way in my own order
Projects not Hours – I hate stopping when I’m in the flow, and I hate having to hang around when there’s nothing to do. I’ll put in a lot of extra work if you let me, but don’t make me waste my time pretending to look busy just because you want a body there during ‘work hours’.
Free Schedule – I need to be respected to have my own life and priorities. I will do the work – but does it really matter when? I hate having to eat when I’m not hungry, or not be able to take a break at an opportune stopping point.
Creativity & Intelligence – I need to be allowed to come up with creative solutions and ideas and have them listened to and appreciated. I hate being treated like an idiot just because I don’t have a big pay-check.
Personal – not Impersonal – I hate the impersonal ‘business’ attitude
My Own Space - I need to have a pleasing personal environment, some place I can feel comfortable in order to be able to feel positive and stay energized and focused. Working in drab, company standard environments, or having to listen to popular music all day makes me angry and depressed and distracted and….I just break down very fast.
Ideals & Values – I can’t invest in or promote things I don’t believe in, I can’t be asked to go against my values
Positive People – A Negative critical atmosphere really takes the life out of me, strained feelings in the air make me physically ill. I need to know that I am appreciated.
Security - stress over money is not something I do well with, being afriad of not being able to pay my bills tends to immobilize me and distract me from creative inspiration.
……who knows what job has all these things?
I’ve also considered what seems to be what I’m made to do, what do I do naturally that gives me fullillment in life?
1. Loving and encouraging others
2. Appreciating the beauty in the world and helping others to see it, also reminding people of the simple joys in life
3. Creating – coming up with stories, imagining, designing many kinds of things, arranging, making things beautiful
4. Thinking deeply and coming to an understanding of things
Surely these things are useful. Surely there must be a way to make a living through them???
Don’t forget to check out Helen’s post.