How to Stop Being Aimless and Find Purposeful Direction as an INFP

Category: INFP

Nothing gives a person more energy than finding the direction they want to go in life. For some people, this is an easy thing to do. They just wake up one day and instinctively know their career path, or what their passion is, or what they're meant to be doing in the next phase of their life.

INFPs are not those people.

Decisions are a thorn in the INFP side. Something makes sense for you only when you recognize a connection with it; when you stumble across something (like a career choice) that makes your heart happy. But what if you never stumble across the one true passion that matches your high ideals?

Or what if you do recognize the meaning of your life, but it's borderless and colorless? You become so easily distracted, INFP, it can be difficult to sculpt a living reality out of a vague inspiration and take steps to actually achieve it.

So let's break it down. Here's how INFPs can stop being aimless and find their direction - with a little help from your characteristic creativity and idealism.

#1: A hero knows his mission

If you run after two hares, you will catch neither. And, really, this is the whole trick to finding your direction in life. If you want something, you need to focus your thinking on just this one thing. You cannot launch a startup, publish a novel, travel the globe and train five times a week while raising your kids. Well you can – just not all at the same time. As an INFP, you may have all of those aspirations. But it's the right focus that makes the difference.

How do you know that it's the right hare you're chasing?

Step one is to get very, very clear about the kind of life you'd like to have. There are various techniques for achieving this but it basically boils down to figuring out what your passion is – the fire that drives you and something you're willing to pay the price to achieve. It's really easy for INFPs to get sidetracked by someone else's goal or what they think they should do. But this will only lead to one false start after another and a series of major dead ends.

INFPs are strongly heart-controlled and tend to be much happier outside of the mainstream, when they feel like they are working for a cause or doing something that makes a difference. To find that cause, ask yourself:

  • What's important to you?
  • What do you want to achieve in this world?
  • What do you want to give or create?
  • What do you want to leave behind (your legacy)?
  • How should your life affect others?

You may be able to answer some of these questions off the cuff; others may give you more time to think. You might have 100 different answers and that's okay. Keep honing and digging until you find a clear set of patterns and a common thread. Pay attention to your feelings, past experiences and the compliments you've received. For INFPs, this exercise is less about searching and more about finding – stay open to coincidences and give your vocation a chance to reveal itself.

When you're done, see if you can turn your answers into a simple sentence. This sentence is your mission statement, for example "I want to give unbiased advice to people, make them feel comfortable and build up their self-esteem." You'll recognize when you've found the right mission, whether that's "become a novelist and illustrator," "create a better community," "visit every place on earth" or "create something of my own I can be proud of," because you'll feel emotional and incredibly relieved. It means that you are clear about your priorities, and can start living with authenticity and depth.

#2. Let go of the pass/fail mentality

In creating a mission, you've also created a danger zone. This is the space when you get so excited about pursuing your life's purpose, you try to get there all at once. INFPs who try to change everything in one go get so exhausted, they give up. You're not an SJ-type who likes to work out goals down to the last detail. You can't live your life with a constant plan looming over you. Too much focus may cause you to lose faith in the mission you've created and once again get sidetracked by false objectives that won't make you happy.

The next step then, is to make the smallest change towards your goal. Research college courses. Pick up a leaflet for a gym. Write 300 words a day. While counterintuitive, the best way for INFPs to move forward with their entire life is by not moving forward with your entire life. The idea is to complete or assimilate just one adjustment before starting on the next. You don't want to close in on a whole structured plan and miss out on lots of amazing, spontaneous things along the way. Part of this process is enjoying the journey. You'll make much faster progress that way.

When it comes to goal achievement, consistency is key. The only true failure is the failure to take action, so be sure to let go of the pass/fail mentality to success. It just doesn't work for INFPs. The problem with pass/fail is it makes you feel bad if you try something and fail. You end up believing that "doing nothing" is more appealing than "doing something" and taking the risk that it won't work out. So, you end up procrastinating (again) because you didn't get the exact results you were hoping for.

With a few months of consistent action, you'll be in a different place. You will have different experiences, know different people and maybe have a different perspective on where you're headed. INFPs perceive things the majority of people do not and you must remain open to these experiences in order to learn from them. You only realize just how priceless they are when you stay flexible, then stop and reflect along the way.

#3: Kill those pesky fears

As for potential derailers, the worst and most detrimental is your tendency towards self-doubt. Too many INFPs know exactly what they feel called to and what would make their lives meaningful. But self doubt, your inner saboteur, keeps you on the sofa instead of making the positive transformation you're dreaming about.

Resist the urge to idealize what you had before, or what others have now. Stop questioning whether you have what it takes to do well in the mission you've chosen. Stop wondering if, in the grand scheme, your actions are making any difference at all. The answer is "yes," they are making a difference – but constantly questioning it can be quite paralyzing at times.

For INFPs more than any other type,  it helps to have someone who can remind you why you're doing what you're doing. You cannot do this alone. You need people who will support your efforts, call you out on your sabotaging excuses and keep you pushing forward when you'd rather give up. You only live once, so don't think twice. Relationships with people are what make your life meaningful. So, build yourself a support system, and actually have the guts to share your dreams and ambitions with the people you love and trust. These allies can ground you and help you be the kind of person who follows through on their ambitions.

And if you can do that, INFP, you can do anything!

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writer and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. She lives with her ENTX husband and children in Yorkshire, UK, where she drinks a lot of tea and loves winding people up. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

Comments

Cassandre Jean-Denis (not verified) says...

This was so spot on! For me atleast. 

Joanna49 (not verified) says...

Taking little steps every day makes total sense.  Speaking to one person or researching one piece of information allows for contemplation of the next step.  That would allow for confidence and enthusiasm to build while giving space for my goals to fine tune themselves.  Thanks for validating the slow, methodical approach INFPs need for success

Jara (not verified) says...

Where are the INFP writers on Truity? There seems to be an NT preference here. I would prefer to receive wise counsel about how to be a "better INFP" from our own tribe. Thanks.

George Kinfp (not verified) says...

I'm surprised that the writer is not INFP, but she is spot on.  

Jara (not verified) says...

Please consider incorporating more personality diversity in the writer staff for the blog. Because a TJ's counsel for the FP person's "improvement" always boils down to "be more like TJ" (*buzzer*), I would even prefer an ENFP's perspective on how INFP's can "improve". Thanks. 

Yuliya (not verified) says...

Jayne may not be an INFP, but I think her understanding of our tribe is spot-on; even eerily accurate! I wish I had read this article years ago.

Jahiedy (not verified) says...

I completely agree!! She got it spot on!

CLaridge (not verified) says...

Makes sense to me, and very accurate to what I have experienced. When Ifinally take one little step in the direction I choose to go suddenly I am in the slipstream and I am off. Just be good if I could do that with a career works wonders with all my hobbies.

Steven Hermans (not verified) says...

I had to figure this out by myself. Now, older and wiser, I can say, this is very good advice. Even though I have my own business now, very meaningful to me, I still struggle with the self-doubt. But like in a meditation, I try to observe it, not react to it, in the knowledge that it is just a phase, it will disappear. And I just carry on. 

 

I try to use my doubts as a recalibration mechanism. I know what I am doing is meaningful, but could it be more meaningful? When I cannot get out of my head, I get out of my house. Travel works wonders for realigning myself.

Anthony says...

As an INFP I can completely understand this. Totally stuck right now but this article has lifted me and given me a few ideas. Thanks! 

Ramona (not verified) says...

Thank you thank you thank you! This is EXACTLY what I needed to read, and I am encouraged and strengthened!

I'm FiNe (not verified) says...

I get stuck in step 1 with this bit of advice:

"...something you're willing to pay the price to achieve."

I have always hit a point where I find the costs higher than what I am willing to pay.  I don't do well with setbacks.  When I meet an obstacle I am more inclined to stop after one or two (unsuccessful) attempts to handle it.  I avoid conflict, hardship, and pain.

Afsal Salam (not verified) says...

I am thanking for the admin for this informative article.My staffs in HR Software Dubai and me also is really inetrest in this website.There is so much of information are provided for free.Thank you.

Ell (not verified) says...

Just stumbled across this article, thank you Jayne this is exactly what I needed to read! I'm currently studying a fascinating language degree, hoping it will help me discover what career path I want to persue. Reading this article has taken a bit of pressure off deciding everything at once - it is OK to take time to carry on learning, to find a purpose, and to focus on taking small steps to achieve your goals :-) 

Hala (not verified) says...

So  

i need to have a constant renewal of my goal to update my motivation.

walk towards that goal one step at a time with observation and support not to be overwhelmed by the whole pic of the dream.

and not to doubt myself and to force myself I have what it takes 

 

 

damm that was nice tbh but I have no support system nor ppl to actually depend that deeply on or trust enough to be that vulnerable around.... I need to find this within me? But I can’t validate myself tbh 

i don’t know ....

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