Do you ever wonder how some people seem to love the most mundane job, while others absolutely loathe a job that you would kill to have? When it comes to different personality types, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our career preferences.
As an ENFP who worked from home, I lost count of the number of times someone told me how lucky I was. My standard response was a mediocre, “Oh sure.” Why was it that a seemingly dream job -- one where I could set my own hours and work from home in my pajamas -- felt a bit humdrum? ENFPs are supposed to love writing and creativity. My work utilized both. What was the problem?
It took a little time and self discovery to figure it out, but in the end I realized that I wasn’t happy for two reasons. First, I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing. And second, I was lonely. If anything can squash the ENFP personality, it’s loneliness.
To be happy and to thrive as an ENFP, you must build a career you are passionate about! Your life has to feel like it has a purpose, and you have to know exactly what that purpose is.
An ENFP can’t take a job just because it’s easy
So your friend’s company has an opening for a filing clerk. The hours are pretty good, insurance is great, and it’s a low stress job. But does it excite you? When you think of going to work to push paper for eight hours a day, are you champing at the bit to get started?
While some personality types enjoy the quiet and predictable tasks that this type of job provides, the ENFP usually does not.
Sadly, fresh out of college or in urgent need of financial security, many ENFPs will commit to their first job offer because it’s the safe thing to do. The problem is that ENFPs are hardly ever fulfilled merely by living a ‘safe’ life.
Sure, the job may be fine at first. You’ll learn the ropes and meet new people which is always fun. But after some time, you’ll most likely begin wondering if there’s more that you should be doing.
If you’re an ENFP, you need to work with people
When I left my full-time job to go freelance, it seemed like a dream. I was able to be a full-time mother to my children while keeping my career alive. The problems began after all of my children reached school age, and I was left to work alone for 7 hours a day, everyday.
To the alone-time loving INFP, this job may sound like a dream. But for an ENFP like me who thrives on being around people, it was a disaster! It didn’t matter how much coffee I drank, how many breaks I took to walk to the mailbox, the walls closed in on me and the joy I once found in writing turned to sorrow. I found myself envious of my children’s teachers, surrounded constantly by people, and would feel gloomy as I left my volunteer position at the school to return home.
The feelings I experienced made sense because if you look at the type of jobs that suit ENFPs, well, you’ll find careers in:
- Business and sales
- Media and Communication (in the office - not at home!)
All of these careers have two things in common -- people (lots and lots of people!) and the ability to make a difference or impact in the community. AKA passion for what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for.
To be happy, an ENFP must build a job around a passion
Writing has always been my passion and it still is. But for me, my writing has to mean something. It can’t be technical or mundane. It has to impact people in some way.
When I wrote regularly for a Health IT company, the money flowed and my work was secure. It was a safe and easy job, but it was boring. While some personalities thrive on the technical, my creative side was crying out for release.
Whether your passion is helping people, acting, writing or selling a product that you believe in, identify it and go for it. As an ENFP, you cannot walk through this life half-heartedly and feel content. Even if it’s risky or a little bit out of your comfort zone, finding work that you’re passionate about will reap huge benefits in the long run.
For me, my career change meant doing two things:
Cutting ties with companies that required technical writing.
Making sure my relationships with new clients involved at least 50% in-person interaction.
These two adjustments have allowed me to continue writing, but in a way that I felt fulfilled. I now write on topics that I’m passionate about and no longer spend 100% of my working hours alone.
So how do I know if it’s time to make a switch?
If you’re in the midst of a career that you’re not sure is fulfilling you, there will be signs everywhere. You may experience unexplained mood swings and fatigue. For the first time in your life, you may experience lethargy or find yourself shutting people out.
For me, the big wake-up call came in the form of intense anxiety that I couldn’t find a reason for. A normally outgoing, cheerful Extravert, I became stressed and unhappy. I lost interest in my hobbies and stopped working out for the first time since college.
It was so severe that people noticed the change and asked me to seek help. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened to spark all these mood changes except for one thing -- I had begun freelancing from home one year earlier.
Over the course of 12 months, the ‘solitary confinement’ of home-based working had beaten up my psyche, and I desperately needed to make a switch. After consulting my husband, friends and people that were genuinely interested in helping, I took the plunge and began a new career path.
Sure, it wasn’t an extreme change, but it was enough to turn my life back into one that felt like it had a purpose.
Sometimes, you really do have to follow your heart
One of the worst things my parents did, I believe, was drill into me the message that I should make a career out of something practical. They asked me to fit my life into a well-defined box.
The problem with this advice is that ENFPs will never fit into a box. We are creative and passionate; understanding and persuasive. We have too much to give to the world to stay hidden in a right-angled square.
As ENFP personalities we must follow our hearts. Our career is such a huge part of our lives, so let’s make it a happy, powerful and passionate one!