I find it ironic that I pitched the idea for this article—an article on goal making—over a month ago and I’m only just writing it now. Clearly, I am in need of its contents as much as the next ENFP!
As Intuitive Perceivers, we are often chastised for chasing butterflies and shiny objects. This is not always far from the truth, but generally we have a good reason for it. Our primary cognitive function is Extraverted Intuition (Ne), giving us the ability to spin ideas and consider possibilities faster than you can write them down! All the other functions are subordinate to this one, which means we’re always going to seem like we have our head in the clouds.
For ENFPs, this idea generating quality can be exhilarating and liberating by creating a world of possibilities! However, one weakness—and I’m not too keen on admitting fault—would be our ability to follow-through in a timely manner.
Sure, I’ll take a ballroom dance class someday. And don’t you tell me I’ll never finish that degree, by Jove, I will! Just … not yet.
I’ve looked at the popular advice articles. I’ve tried them. And, whether by virtue of my personality or some other aspect of who I am, none of those tidbits of advice have ever stuck. So, employing the constantly whir of Extraverted Intuition, I found some goal-setting golden nuggets that have worked for me in various seasons of my life.
Flexibility isn’t Just for Yogis
As an Intuitive person, we ENFPs naturally see the big picture. It’s easy to take a step back and see the bottom line and not get lost in the minutiae of details. Run with that! When considering goals, choose an end result and filter down. What’s the bottom line or end result you want to achieve? What does that look like to you? What steps can you take to achieve this goal?
Pretty normal goal-setting jargon, right?
Here’s the kicker—my advice to an ENFP would be to NOT set an uber specific regimen. Don’t say you’ll work out three times a week until the day you die. After a couple of weeks, you end up feeling stifled and wanting to execute a new strategy you’ve dreamed up.
When this happens, I ask myself, “does this still get me to the end result I envisioned?” If the answer is yes, then go ahead! Chase that shiny idea! As long as you’re still headed in the right direction for your goal, switching tactics is a-okay and may even save the longevity of your focus. Allow yourself to be flexible when executing the details of a goal, so long as you don’t lose sight of the bottom line.
After having little boy number two, I set the expectation that I would spend more one-on-one time with my toddler. I don’t have a specific map or a timetable. Sometimes, quality time consists of taking him to the store when I would otherwise ask my husband to watch him. Other times, it’s shirking chores, bundling up, and following him outside to play. I don’t focus on the amount of time or the activity, just that we have some one-on-one connection. Allowing myself some flexibility in the execution of this goal means I can roll with the unexpected and create opportunities as I go.
A word of warning: it’s pretty easy to say “Nah, I’ll do it later” or “I’m too busy today”. In doses and for good reasons, this isn’t a bad thing. Both of my kids are sick today and my toddler is sleeping off his illness. I may not get one-on-one time with him today and that’s okay. If you find you’re continually giving yourself an out, take some introspective time to see why and what you need to tweak.
And Categories Aren’t Just for Jeopardy!
There have been several times in my life when setting one goal lead to the desire for another, and another, and another. Everything is interconnected. Compartmentalization is difficult for an ENFP.
Once again, my advice to you is to go with it! Set those big picture goals in categories. Write them down so you don’t lose track. Your priorities will rise to the surface as you consider each outcome. While other sources will encourage you to reign in your enthusiasm and channel it into one aspect of your life, nothing kills an ENFP’s drive faster than restraining that wonderful Extraverted Intuition.
When I go through these periods, I often use the categories of personal improvement, relationship goals, finances, work, and whatever hobby I’m currently interested in. I find setting goals in this way is helpful over a long period of time. For instance, I used this tactic at the New Year. I have bottom lines for each category, but allow myself flexibility in execution.
One of my goals for this year is to learn basic sewing. My mom, bless her soul, bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. Usually a go-getter type of woman, I find myself in uncharted territory feeling totally and completely intimidated by this machine! I’ll admit, I haven’t even busted it out of the box yet. No matter what, I’ve set things in motion. My sister-in-law lives close by and is coming next month to help me get things started. I have definite expectations for what I want to learn to sew (some diaper inserts and wipes) by the end of the year. We’ll see how things progress!
A word of warning: Having several categories of goals makes it easy to lose focus. Balance is the key for this style of goal-setting. I find having a variety of goals to rotate through helps me stay on track. When one goal seems stale, I can cycle my focus to another area and return to my original goal later with fresh eyes. Keep some kind of record if you choose to set goals this way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
Check-in So You Don’t Check Out
I believe that one reason New Year’s Resolutions don’t often stick is because we make them at one point in the year and never bother to check-in and account for the changes that normally happen in our lives. The same applies to any type of goal.
At the turn of one year, I set extremely specific goals. Learn three new piano pieces, become conversational in Turkish, and pay off the rest of my student debt were three of my goals. A few weeks into the year, I got a big, fat positive pregnancy test. This was not on my radar or in our plans for the year. However, I stubbornly stuck with the original goals I set. Can you imagine what happened throughout the course of the year? I barely learned half of a piano piece, saved enough to pay for the birth instead of paying off student debt, and don’t even talk to me in Turkish. I’ve lost it all.
I didn’t account for the major change having my first child would have on my life.
Now, thankfully, not every year is this life-changing. But we still experience subtle shifts in seasons and schedules. I would encourage you to take any long-term goals you have and set a reminder to check-in. Use summer time, beginning of the school year, your birthday—any checkpoints along the year will do.
Remember how I want to learn basic sewing? I want to be comfortable setting up my sewing machine and troubleshooting basic problems (and understand exactly what a bobbin is …) by summer. Beginning of summer, mid-summer, end of summer, it’s all good. As long as I hit that check-point, I’ll be on track to reach my goal by the end of the year.
A word of warning: This is so easy for forget! I can’t tell you how often I’ll open up a planner that I bought at the beginning of one year (convinced it would finally keep me on track) and see goals I had completely forgotten about! Whoops! Technology has helped me rectify this problem. Set a reminder for a future date and never miss a self check-in again.
Now, my dear ENFP, you are a trail-blazer. Have you found other methods of following through? Any goal-setting gold you want to share? Comment below and let us hear your wonderful ideas!