The ENFP/ENTP Guide to Sticking With It (Whatever "It" May Be)

You know how it goes. The resolutions are good, the first preparations already taken. Then, after a few days, the motivation seeps away like water on hot sand, and a bunch of excuses creep in. Why finish this book you couldn't wait to read when there are dozens more on the shelf? Why edit this document when you've just had another genius idea that could be so much better than the first?

If you recognize this situation, then this article is exactly for you. ENPs of both the Thinking and Feeling variety are divergent thinkers and huge concept generators, throwing ideas out by the minute. The temptation to trash your current to-do list and catch up with the next great idea that is much, much better than the project you are sitting on is huge. Most ENPs struggle with these distractions, which explains why so many of them have a boatload of tasks, projects, ideas, plans and ambitions that have tailed off to stagnation, never to be picked up again.

When it comes to sticking with it, you need to start managing the personality traits that are stopping you completing what you've started in the first place. Here are some tips to help ENFPs and ENTPs develop perseverance, tenacity and motivation, and work permanently and sustainably towards their goals.

#1: Program your brain for success

It takes around 60 days for our habits to change, assuming we commit to forming new connections in our brain. The more often we practice something new, the more rapidly new neurological pathways are formed. The good news for impulsive ENPs is that it only takes 10 minutes a day to change your brain's architecture. If you can schedule 10 minutes a day, and dedicate that time exclusively towards your project, you'll soon learn the habit of sticking with your goal even if there are better things to do.

The key is consistency. Each deflection will slow down your habit formation so be sure to turn off devices and give the project your full attention. As soon as the 10 minutes are up, switch to something new. Alternating tasks will stop you belaboring your project to the point where it isn't stimulating anymore. Over time, you'll be amazed at how much you've accomplished.

#2: Keep your goal in front of you

Keeping a prompt or target visible is one of the best things you can do to maintain focus on your goal. When you get distracted by new ideas, it's a sign that your future vision has moved away from you, and you've lost sight of all the fantastic reasons why you started the project in the first place. So, bring the vision back. Surround yourself with images, quotes, visualization boards, mock-ups, and other prompts that will remind you of your long-term vision and get you motivated to pick up that original idea again.

#3: Don't overthink it

Lack of follow through can be a result of failure anxiety - the fear that you're all talk and no real talent, and that others will judge your efforts unfavorably. How many times have you claimed to be percolating ideas, when actually you're ruminating about potential failures? How often have you avoided completion of a project because you're worried about doing it right?

There's nothing wrong with perfectionism when it is focused on getting the best result. But if your passion for perfectionism is hurting your progress, then it becomes a negative. Finishing the project is the prize, so keep your eyes on it.

#4: Tune out your feelings

For ENFPs in particular, there are many times when it helps to integrate your feelings into the decision-making process. This is not one of those times. If you really want to stick to a project, the last thing you want to do is follow your gut. Nine times out of ten, the free-spirited, imaginative, exploratory ENP gut will tell you that the details are too boring to contemplate, so why not play with this new idea instead? If you wait until you're feeling ready to pick up your original project, you're going to be losing a bunch of useful time.

A better approach is to focus on the feeling you get when you reach a milestone, such as completing your 10 minutes a day. When you finish a milestone easily and quickly, your initial enthusiasm will bounce right back. The motivation this causes is so addictive, it can take you to a whole new level of follow through.

#5: Together, you are stronger

A simple remedy for lack of follow through is to seek an accountabuddy - someone who will hold you accountable for the achievement of personal goals, rather like your boss holds you accountable for achieving work targets. Being spurred on by a friend increases your motivation, partly because you get your energy from people and an accountabuddy is someone to bounce ideas off, but also because you do not want to let your accountabuddy down.

The best accountabuddies are those who have walked a similar path and can set external deadlines. It's probably best to avoid other Extraverted Perceivers, though, since they're likely to procrastinate by distracting themselves with other things just as much as you do. 

#6: Enjoy what you do

If you're having a good time working on a project or task, you're more likely to stick at it. One of the easiest and most effortless ways to sustain the fun element is by flexibly managing your project. No one ever said that you had to finish a project in the way that other people do: task one, followed by task two, followed by task three, and so on. If you want to do task six on a certain day, then do it! Or perhaps you want to start on the periphery of a project and work inwards, or at the end of the project and work backwards - the point is, when you work in a way that amuses you, the project becomes a great adventure. You're far more likely to stay on track when you do things your own way, instead of following other people's suffocating rules.

Final thoughts

Ideas alone do not bring success or fulfillment; they only have value if you act on them. A so-so idea that you've put into practice is worth far more than a brilliant idea that never makes it off the page. Starting today, why not make the effort to see something all the way through to completion? You'll have the satisfaction of accomplishing more than you ever thought possible, and best of all, you'll do it with enthusiasm.

Molly Owens

Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. Since 2006, she has specialized in helping individuals and organizations utilize personality assessments to develop their potential.

In 2012, Molly founded Truity with a mission to make robust, scientifically validated personality assessments accessible to everyone who may benefit from them.

Molly is an ENTP and lives in San Francisco, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and racing toy cars with her son.

Comments

Maynard Kappel (not verified) says...

Molly, you are a refreshing ray of sunshine! I am a ENTP/INTP type person and you've nailed it on what's going on inside. So many options, opportunites to pursue, but when it comes to the grunt and groan details of getting certain projects off the ground, I tend to, like you mentioned, look elsewhere and need extra focus. The frame work detailed by the 6 points are what I need. I'm 58, Dad to 2 boys (3 & 7 we adopted), foster Dad to a beautiful little 1 year old girl that we may end up adopting and 3 1/2 grandkids (1/2 is due this fall) plus I'm going after my life coaching certification from ICF. Lot of energy in different forms but also potential distractions, right? So, love, love, love your article!

Molly Owens says...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the article! As a fellow ENTP I can say that I'm often more productive when I have a lot going on—even if I do bounce around a bit. So I'm sure you'll be successful with your endeavors!

Henry Beiro (not verified) says...

IN the early nineties I was introduced to Meyers Briggs testing. It changed my life, BY allowing me to understand how I process information. Why was studying in college so painful? Why do I have a hundred project around the house, in various states of completion? Why do I get so little enjoyment from finishing a project? Is it ok to say I love this article? When I haven't finished it yet?

Molly Owens says...

Ha! It's OK with me! So glad you enjoyed it.

Marta Tatarska (not verified) says...

Henry, I always thought I'm brokem, because succes never made me happy for long (or at all). Good to know, I'm not alone, struggling ENTP :)
I wonder if maybe we should learn to see the goal not in standard way - as the end of journey (who likes it, huh?) but maybe as the moment that opens space for tons of new ideas. Maybe some usefull excercies can help setting right mindset in moment of victory. If there are any, I'd love to know and try them.

Tom P (not verified) says...

Molly, great article and ease of use of Meyers-Briggs. I was introduced to MB in the 90s as was Henry B. I split on Extrovert/Introvert, but judging from those around me and what their feedback is, I definitely lean toward the Extrovert side.

I am also split on Thinking/Feeling. So, your "ENFP/ENTP Guide to Sticking With It" really hits home.

"A so-so idea that you've put into practice is worth far more than a brilliant idea that never makes it off the page."

Yikes! Completion vs. Giving into other good idea-distractions. Well put.

Thanks for your clarity.

Tom P

Writeroby (not verified) says...

Yes, Molly. Just, yes! I am an ENTP who has the hardest time completing ANYTHING! The more projects I leave open and incomplete, the more restless and frustrated I get. Thank you for your ideas. I can see myself using all of them, especially the 10-minute rule. The older I get (31 yo) the more I realize how incredibly important it is to make having fun a priority in all projects. It's becoming a must for me. Thank you!

Solya V (not verified) says...

Great article, I find points 2 and 4 especially useful. I've failed at point 1 quite a few times, though. True that I'm a high-score on both N and P, so maybe that's why.

What I find useful above Molly's 6 advice:

1. focus on finishing and closing: when I get impatient with how little I achieved in a (working) day, I start to look around in the open tasks and concentrate on what I can finish quickly, even if in a "so-so" way. It gives relief since I completed tasks, plus I find that most people are satisfied with what I consider hasty and patched-up. (cf. point 3)

2. have an assistant: if I can involve someone else in a project, it helps me in 2 ways: a. I can get someone else to do the boring staff, b. it keeps me on track since I have to keep in mind the whole process and what comes next. Also, even if it is OK to waste my own time, it's definitely not OK to waste someone else's, so I'm more disciplined.

Molly, it's a huge inspiration that you founded this website and accomplished this great project!

Molly Owens says...

Solya, those are great points! I have found having an assistant invaluable as well, especially when I have one who is the kind of person who has schedules and to-do lists for everything. Then they can help keep me on track!

So you can give my assistants all the credit for the website. :)

Joe Hansberry (not verified) says...

Great article. As someone who is actively trying to no longer have a million unfinished projects this has been a great find. I liked #6 the best as it's not a run of the mill solution and one that theoretically should be a great solution for an ENT/FP.

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