I am ENFP according to personality tests, ADHD according to psychotherapy, and 26 according to the calendar. I have been doing account management type work for the past couple of years, which admittedly was a terrible idea as details, timelines, and keeping track of projects are all things I, as an ENFP, am inherently terrible at and also make me feel like my soul is being sucked away. I also have had a number of issues with several bosses because I don’t fall in line with their demands just because “the boss said so” or because “this is the way we do things around here,” which has resulted in some, ahem, parting of ways (i.e. kicks to the curb).

I think eventually I’ll need to work for myself, but creating some kind of freelance career right now while working from home sounds so boring and lonely, not to mention less financially solvent. Brooklyn is expensive! I want to start solidifying my career because I know I want kids (at least five years down the road) and I want to have the flexibility to be with them, but I feel like I’m not gaining any traction in my career because so far, my job description has been at odds with who I am.

Here are my current thoughts and I’m interested to here which, if any, you think would be my best bet.

1. Find a new job that is more people-oriented and focused on big ideas rather than details (and where I work for a boss that I can respect)  – I’m considering Sales because it’s with people or content writing because I can write

2. Go back to school to get my MSW and become a therapist – it’s people-oriented, flexible, and I think it’s meaningful work with a purpose

3. Go on ADHD medication so I can fit into the box at work and theoretically be more successful

Thanks!

7 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Just because you can write doesn’t mean you should be a writer. And just because you want to work from home doesn’t mean you should be working from home now. Finally, getting a degree– in anything — doesn’t work unless you are 100% sure what you want to do with that degree and you have time to get on track with that plan before you have kids, which you do not, because it takes 3 years after graduating to get to a place where you are fully leveraging the degree.

    So, what *should* you be doing now?

    An ENFP will always need to be around people — the thing that is most fulfilling to you is inspiring people to see something big. And that’s really what account managers do, so it’s a good job for you in that respect.

    Most jobs, even sales jobs, are difficult with ADHD because you have to stick with something longer than feels comfortable. The job of parenting is also difficult with ADHD because even a parent with out ADHD feels like they have it when their thought process is interrupted constantly by a child’s needs.

    So I think your best course of action is go try medication. The medication for ADHD doesn’t change who you are. Done right, the medication will help you be more of who you are, without the ADHD sidetracking you all the time.

    As an ENFP you will always be a little bit off-beat. That’s just who you are. And as a person with ADHD you will always make connections in the world that other people don’t see — it’s part of how your brain is wired. The medication will hopefully help you to stay focused enough to make an impact on peoples’ lives, which is something that’s very important to an ENFP.

    As for working from home, your best bet is probably to make good, solid connections in the world you’re in now, and then, once you have a child, hope that one of those connections comes through so you can work at home.

    A world of caution to everyone planning for kids and wanting to work from home: that career situation takes a long time to figure out, and as kids grow and needs change your work-from-home situation constantly evolves. Which is to say that it doesn’t make sense to put off having children until you have everything worked out. You will never get everything worked out – it’s too hard. Just have kids.

    Penelope

  2. jessica
    jessica says:

    My relative is an ENFP that works from home as a Advertising Recruiter. She sends her kids to school and works while they are away. Lots of socializing and sales involved. When they were younger she stayed home with them and loved it.

    Regardless of ADHD, It’s hard to focus on things you’re not even enjoying. Since you are aware of what you want I feel like once you have kids you’ll want/need to focus on them and your ENFP self will help them achieve a lot.

    Keep the job and find the husband.

    Side note: I have friends that want kids and are in their 30s in Brooklyn and cannot because both partners earn less than 100k (little time off for baby, high childcare costs). I hate to be that person but (as someone that is here in NYC and friends with a lot of varied families) try to match with someone that can financially and career wise handle being in NY so you can be with the kids. At 26 this should be what you’re focusing on.

  3. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Another ENFP here! I have been a proposal manager for 10 years. It really works for me because –

    1. Deadlines are 100% real and external and unmovable. With account management, deadlines get fuzzy and no one really NEEDS anything by a certain time. I am the same way – I cannot meet a deadline to save my life. So having deadlines that I know I cannot miss is really important to me. Otherwise nothing would ever get finished and I would spend all my time feeling bad about myself and how I can never make a deadline.

    2. I get to write and be creative and problem solve. There is usually very little busy work.

    3. It is project-based. Once I finish and submit a proposal, I never have to think about it again. Each proposal is a different challenge to solve. My workday is always different.

    4. It’s SUPER collaborative. I have to interview people, manage meetings, present my solutions to executives, etc. I really enjoy getting feedback that people like working with me.

    5. It’s competitive and challenging and the goal is clear – win the proposal.

    6. I work from home right now, although I don’t really enjoy not being in an office, since people have always been one of the reasons I’ve loved my job. But the job description lends itself to a lot of flexibility with where you work.

    7. It pays really well plus there are usually commission plans (depending on the company and your seniority).

    If you are in account management/business development now, I’d really recommend looking into proposal coordinator roles and start working your way up. I think you would like it.

    But I would also agree with P to figure out your ADHD medication. Don’t mess around with your mental health!

  4. Tina
    Tina says:

    I know that working from home with kids sounds like a great deal (and don’t get me wrong there are tons of great things about it), but it is so hard to get things done.

    It’s super important to have a system for how you will get work done and be there for your kids. I’m an INFJ, so I’m pretty good at getting things done and I constantly feel like there is not enough time for my kids and work and myself. I can only imagine that would be magnified with ADHD and as a P.

    Why don’t you work on a plan for how to quit your job? Before kids everyone thinks they want to keep working after they have kids, but after you actually have kids everyone wants to quit.

    I think about quitting my job all the time. And it may happen at some point, but it may not. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have made very different choices in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to work.

  5. Original Poster
    Original Poster says:

    Hi everyone – thank you all so much for the great advice! :)

    So the ADHD is a relatively new diagnosis – and while it’s connected a lot of dots with my workplace difficulties, I’m a bit nervous about meds – but based on all the comments, I think they’re at least worth a try.

    @Elizabeth – those are EXACTLY my problems with account management! My favorite parts of my jobs have been pitching new business and putting together proposals also for EXACTLY the reasons you mentioned! Why didn’t I think of this?! I’m definitely going to look into shifting myself into that field – perfect! and thank you! @jessica is also right – the fact that I hate my current job probably is not helping… time for a career shift!

    My relationship is a long way from being ready for kids – I’m the oldest in a big family so I know how hard they are, but I also know I want to be a mom someday. I’m doing reasonably well financially (when I can keep a job!), and my partner wants to be a stay-at-home mom, so I’m trying to plan for a future in which I might be the primary breadwinner if we stay together. Even if that’s the case though, I’d still want to have the flexibility to be there for my kids when they need me. I don’t exactly know where I’m headed, so I guess I’m mainly trying to hedge my bets and plan as best I can! :)

    @Penelope – thanks again for talking me out of a knee-jerk grad school decision and for putting me in the mailbag!

    Thanks everyone!

  6. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    ENFP-with-ADHD I love your opening line. For what it’s worth I know someone who, diagnosed with ADHD, took medication several years back. They say the meds helped them focus for the first time ever, it was like a blind man seeing for the first time. Eventually once they understood what focus felt like they were able to do it themselves and didn’t need the meds anymore. By the time I met him he was one of the most effective people I knew.

    (Penelope, this line cracked me up: “…even a parent with out ADHD feels like they have it when their thought process is interrupted constantly by a child’s needs.” )

  7. Anne-Marie
    Anne-Marie says:

    This:

    “The medication for ADHD doesn’t change who you are. Done right, the medication will help you be more of who you are, without the ADHD sidetracking you all the time.”

    could not be more true. I received my ADHD dx (and began meds) at age 48. I have since earned a BS in Accounting in 4 years, while working FT in an extremely demanding job for the first two years and homeschooling my now-14 year old daughter the second two, and am studying for my CPA.

    The humming brain? Quiet. The inability to filter out every!last!stupid!thing!? Gone. The constant need to be in motion? Quelled. It’s been a Godsend.

    It may take time to get the meds right, but it is totally worth the effort and will improve your quality of life more than you can imagine.

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