What’s the Formula for a Satisfying INFJ Career?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on November 19, 2017
Category: INFJ

Most INFJs long for a career that lines up with their personal vision and profound sense of mission. They want to employ their insight into the human mind as well as their abundant creativity to make the world a better place.

For eight years, I've taught elementary school. It's been a good fit for me in many ways, but it’s also been challenging. I work with people all day long, teach the same content every year, and have to manage 25 students from 9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. By the end of each day, I’m physically exhausted.

Like many INFJs, I wrestle with that nagging question, “Am I doing what I am meant to do?” So over the past few years, I’ve spent numerous hours researching careers for INFJs. Apparently, I’m not alone. INFJs Google “INFJ career” more than any other INFJ phrase except for “INFJ personality.”

Does this mean that you and I are doomed to work dissatisfying careers all our lives? I don’t think so. I believe you can find a career that makes your INFJ heart happy, but you have to know what you need and want in your work to pull it off.

To that end, take a look at the following five things I've learned most INFJs desire in their work. May they lead you to a career that makes you want to spring out of bed each morning.

1. Freedom to learn and grow

INFJs are super intuitives, to borrow a Tieger, Barron, and Tieger term. Our primary mindset - or cognitive function - is something called introverted intuition (Ni). Ni strives to understand the world and the reasons why it works the way it does. It’s an information gathering mindset that craves knowledge.

For this reason, we need regular opportunities to learn and develop new skills. When I sit down at my computer to research personality, a new technology, or something else that interests me, I often lose track of time. Hours go by without me noticing, and I miss breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love learning.

Our Ni is also futuristic. Combined with our preference for feeling, it enables us to see possibilities for people and motivates us to pursue personal growth. If your work doesn't encourage you to grow and pursue your potential, you'll never feel satisfied and always wonder if you could be doing more. You need work that encourages you to step outside your comfort zone and grow by leaps and bounds.

2. Opportunities to create

Another aspect of Ni is that it’s a highly creative mindset. It thrives on new, exciting ideas and connections, and it generates both regularly. Because we have highly creative minds, we come alive when we create. I detest rules and procedures that tell me exactly what to do, step-by-step. In contrast, I need the freedom to come up with original solutions that help people grow. When I write new blog posts, create videos, and record podcasts, I know I’m doing the kind of creative work I was born to do.

Creative work for INFJs takes many forms. Some paint and draw or play music and sing. I spent a good year and a half trying to become a professional songwriter. Other INFJs write, take pictures, design, plan, or do something else that grants their right brain carte blanche.

No matter what we do, you and I need a creative outlet.

3. Opportunities to help people

While creativity is a big part of the equation, it's not the whole enchilada. We need regular opportunities to help people too. More specifically, when we get to use our creativity in the service of others, we're happiest.

We can do this two ways: directly and indirectly. Direct help may take the form of in-person meetings, video conferences, emails, and phone calls. Picture a counselor or psychologist with one or two other people. Indirect help, conversely, means that what we make helps other people. For instance, you could write a book that teaches someone to think positively or relate to their loved ones more effectively.

I got a lot of joy out of writing The INFJ Personality Guide that helps other INFJs understand themselves, reach their potential, and live a life of purpose. I love the fact that it’s helping people “get” themselves and how their minds work, even while I sleep. (You can grab a free copy of the guide here.)

4. The right balance of alone time and social interaction

While INFJs long to help people and desire to see them grow, we also need extended periods of alone time. Unfortunately, many INFJs end up doing work that satisfies one part of their personality but leaves another empty and longing for more.

This has been my experience teaching in a public school. I enjoy working with students, but by the time afternoon classes role around each day, I’m spent. I need far more downtime than most of the people I teach with.

While you’ll probably never be content working with people all day, neither will you be happy with eight hours of isolation. You need at least a bit of social interaction with people you trust and enjoy being around who can help you process your thoughts and feelings and vet your ideas.

In an ideal world, according to Elaine Schallock of PersonalityJunkie.com, you’d start with two to three - maybe even four - uninterrupted hours of alone time devoted to researching and creating. Then, about halfway through the day, you’d connect with people in one-on-one or small group settings.

5. Control over the process and the product

Finally, you and I are most satisfied in our work when we can control “the process and the product,” say Tieger, Barron, and Tieger the authors of Do What You Are. We can picture the results of a long-term goal before we even begin working, and we enjoy brainstorming ways to achieve it. We also love creating a product that measures up to our high personal standards, regardless of whether it’s a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind chair or a Myers-Briggs personality course.

When we work for someone else, we often end up serving the bottom line and company deadlines. Consequently, our goal is always “good enough” and organizational procedures spell out the how of our work. But when we work for ourselves, we can focus on serving others and developing a product we’re proud of.

While I know that I want to keep teaching, I also know that I need more control over the how and what of my work. For that reason, I’m starting to make online courses. Thanks to the internet and ever-improving technology, I’m taking advantage of opportunities previous generations of INFJs never knew. And you can too!

What’s the most important component of a satisfying career for you?

Grab a free copy of my INFJ Personality Guide, and learn more about what makes you tick!

Bo Miller

Bo Miller is an INFJ blogger, podcaster, and teacher. He’s also a certified Myers-Briggs practitioner. You can check out his work at iSpeakPeople.com.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


pianoJane (not verified) says...

For me, this article is spot on. I teach piano one-to-one in primary schools and this enables me to create my own curriculum, respond to the learning styles of individual students and foster both their creativity and my own. Working one-to-one is less stressful and overwhelming and gives me the chance to respond differently to each student and constantly strive to improve and refine my teaching.

TMills (not verified) says...

I agree with and love this article. I graduated college about a year ago and have been misreable working in a corporate office. I need to pursue some of these goals, but I don't know how or where to start. Any advice? 

Zintos says...

This is good stuff. Thank you???


INFJ1961 says...

Very insightful and useful.  I'm curious, though.  You mentioned you spent a year and a half trying to become a professional songwriter.  How did you go about that?  Was songwriting the end goal, or did you actually want to also be part of the final outcome - a recording?  I'm just curious because musical creativity interests me.

dctones (not verified) says...

Hi there. This is so validating for me. As an INFJ-A 4w5 I have found it so challenging to find a role with fulfillment in both my creative outlet as well as my desire to help others.

I graduated college last year with a "great job" and a way higher pay-grade than I ever thought I would earn at the start of my career. I ended up leaving the role in under a year because of how awful it was to be in such a corporate environment - and around other miserable people who were obviously there for the money. I felt like a robot, and soon enough I began to feel physically sick just going to work.

I have since found other work that is closer to my desire for creativity, but it just doesn't fill the missing gap of fulfillment. I'm getting ready to move on from this job too. After lots of research I've decided to try and pursue the role of a Park Ranger, as I'm also an avid photographer, an animal and environment advocate. I really think all of these roles might form a symbiotic relationship together for something meaningful. While not socially exhausting, I can still make a difference to do some good on our planet.

Thank you for this article.

ABHISHEK NARULA (not verified) says...

Thank you soo much for sharing this knowledge.... i felt like i was alone in this path and feeling others pain everyday. Now i know how to approach in my career without asking myself.

Carolyn Schmidt (not verified) says...

I have found that finding a balance between solitude and people work difficult.  Eventually, I worked as a piano teacher, a copyeditor, and a medical transcriptionist.  Those were most satisfying.  Less satisfying were secretary and substitute teacher.  

Bilal Naeem (not verified) says...

INFJ here. Such a great article and rings so true. Career hopping (not job switching) seems to be my destiny but I am accepting it for what it is. 

p.s. I am really enjoying your INFJ guide too! 

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