I know you have to keep trying different jobs out to know what you want to do, I think my problem is that there is some kind of block/resistance around anything, including the jobs I try out.

I’m an INFP.

I have interned as a Human resource intern for a non-profit and I think I liked the talent acquisition, recruiting and company wellness aspects of it, but not benefits/compensation etc.. But I still don’t know if I want to pursue this aspect of HR further. I always seem to feel like there’s something else.

I’ve interned as a marketing and communications intern in NYC for a start-up juice company. I didn’t like it that much, thinking I don’t care too much about marketing for this.

I then got a job as a marketing assistant where I assisted the director of business development with marketing, social media, helping out with proposals (it was a consulting company) and other little business development pieces.

I liked it because of the people I worked with and the office environment. But it was also something I saw as temporary.

My biggest resistance comes with pursuing Psychology. I definitely don’t want to get a PhD, but secretly, I think about counseling as a career but I have SO MUCH resistance around this. For example:

(1) I don’t know if I’m confusing my love for personal development and spirituality with choosing this as a career–cos I use it to help myself. I get really inspired by mental wellness and I spend a lot of time being inspired by individuals who are life coaches etc. online and I feel connected. But am I just having wishful thinking.

(2) I love being empathetic, I’m a great listener and I feel a desire to help and empower others. BUT there are times where I feel like I don’t want to be listening to people’s problems. It gets depressing and I feel stupid if I can’t help or give the right kind of advice. What if I suck? I also have enormous fears around not feeling smart enough for grad school. I got by fine in my undergrad career but didn’t do well in my research methods class for e.g.

(3) I don’t really want to do clinical psych because I would want to help with less serious concerns than actual mental disorders like schizophrenia for instance. There a lot of people in my country where there is not enough psychological help and no outlet for people to talk about mental wellness. I feel like there is some kind of potential here but I’m not exactly sure how I would want to play a part.

I’m 25 years old and I can continue to experiment with jobs but I’m afraid that I might just be hopping from one thing to another with no direction. I know this feeling very well. There are instances in my life where I’d feel this way and actually sabotage myself because I’m not seeing things properly. I’ve read Dr. Meg Jay’s book, Defining Decade and how the decisions you make in your 20’s are important.

I’m scared that I’m just aimless. I can’t even decide what skills to get good at. I don’t want to waste my time on something when I could be gaining experience somewhere else. In my country, opportunities are different than in USA. It’s more common in the U.S. and maybe elsewhere to experiment with jobs but here, it’s different. I just interviewed for  HR executive position and the interviewer asked why HR after interning and working in marketing/business development.

I would appreciate any insight you have?!

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27 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I’m going to tell you something that’s hard to hear: Not everyone should be working to earn money.

    The same is true with taking care of children: Not everyone could be happy taking care of a family. We are completely accepting of Fortune 500 executives who say they could never stay home and take care of children. We accept this because not all aspects of life are right for all types of people.

    So we need to accept that not all people should be in the business sector.

    You will be most happy if you get married to someone who is good at making money and you take care of the family. One reason this will make you happy is that you need a lot of alone time, and you can control that if you are in charge of your own time. The other reason this path will make you happy is that relationships matter to you very much, but making money does not matter to you very much.

    It’s exhausting to you to be around people and to be told what to think about — which is what working is about. If you use all your energy for work then there will be nothing left for the people at home who you care about most.

    Being married is about being a team. And you are a great teammate because you can be the family part of the team. You are missing the money part of the team. That person, who is great at making money is terrible at taking care of a family. So you will each give what the other one needs.

    This is all to say that it doesn’t matter what job you get now because none will make you happy. So you can get any job, as long as it pays the bills, and tell yourself it’s temporary. Then devote all the rest of your energy to finding a life mate. That will be the most fulfilling part of your life so it should get the most attention.

    Here’s a blog post I wrote that will help you think about work:

    Ten bad reasons to get a job

  2. Female_ISTJ
    Female_ISTJ says:

    I’m a female ISTJ. I wish I could find someone to make money so I could focus on doing my own thing (or working for the good of the team, anyway). While I appreciate the counter-cultural message you’ve been giving, finding a spouse who is attractive and has similar core values and goals isn’t always so easy.

  3. me
    me says:

    Not sure I agree with this advice (ISFP here: single/no kids).

    Finding a mate – at any age – is no guarantee of anything. Certainly not financial stability.

    I’ve not especially loved all of my jobs over the years, but I had to pay the bills and support myself. And the thought of waiting for/relying on someone else to do it seems unrealistic.

    In my humble opinion, anyway.

    • ellen
      ellen says:

      everyone should earn $ to live on their own – unless they are disabled. actually, especially if they are disabled – they should try to find a way to earn $ to provide for themselves. this is the first thing a person should do in adult life and they should continue to do it – regardless of being married or single. i could get a rich husband if i wanted, but then i would have a husband and that might make me unhappy. i used to make more $ (different job) than i make now, it didn’t make me happy but i was temporarily happy (high) from buying new clothes on a weekly basis. i digress.

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        What Penelope is pointing out is that certain types of work are so undervalued in our culture that we don’t consider it a job. However maintaining the emotional wellbeing of a family is extremely important work. That’s why we have so many cultural taboos around being married and raising children.

        So you can look at what she’s written here another way:
        Your natural skills and talents are extremely specialized and are best utilized within a very specific industry that has a unique compensation model.

        Although that’s not the sort of thing that an INFP would find inspiring, this reframing might help you think about why the OP is struggling with her job search.

  4. jessica
    jessica says:

    Did you like the start up because it was fast paced with quite a bit of responsibility? Start-ups attract a certain determined person and perhaps the challenge was refreshing compared to the laid back nature of the other pursuits you have dabbled in.
    Also, was the internship at the juice co paid? If it wasn’t paid, you probably didn’t have reason to like it more than the assistant position anyway.

    I say take business positions that are paid, along the marketing route. Focus on your wellness and relationships in your spare time.

  5. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Hi, fellow INFP! I had a feeling that Penelope will answer a question from an INFP next, and Penelope will tell him or her to get married and take care of children.

    If you want to work, what you need is alone time, hours of alone time. I get that from work, so I do not need to get married and take care of children, for now. I work as an associate in a law firm, but I used to work as a writer in marketing and a researcher in logistics. All my jobs have hours of alone time and a good internet connection so that I can read a lot. I hope you can find a job with much time for yourself.

    You can prepare for any interview by writing a story of how you came about the vacant position (HR) and how your previous experience (marketing/business) will help you do well in the position. For example, you can say that you learned how to close business deals or market products in your previous work, so you can use that experience to help create good benefits for employees and inspire them to be more productive. Penelope’s career blog has many tips on how to tell a good story.

    Don’t worry about being aimless. I’m eight years older than you, but I still feel aimless and unproductive. I don’t date because dating doesn’t interest me. Working, especially if it involves a lot of reading, seems more interesting to me than being married and taking care of a family. Good luck!

  6. Pippa
    Pippa says:

    I’m also an INFP, and I absolutely agree with Penelope on this. I spent all of my twenties trying to find fulfilling work. Like you, I considered going back to school to be a counselor and went through a long period of indecisiveness. Nothing ever seemed good enough. I found a job to pay the bills, but I never found the sort of satisfaction I was craving. Now that I am 30, I have realized that the problem is not my job; the problem is me. I have been focused on the wrong thing. I wish I had figured it out sooner. My advice would be to put as much thought into dating as you have been putting into your career options. As Penelope suggested, find a job that will pay the bills, but don’t expect to be fulfilled by it. Also, consider volunteering for a cause you care deeply about; it’s a good way to meet like-minded people.

  7. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    I want to comment on Penelope’s advice that you should focus on family and not work because you need alone time. Maybe that works well for some people, but my experience was quite the opposite. The hardest thing about parenting is it has robbed me of alone time. I get alone time at work, and that balances me out so I can focus on parenting at home.

  8. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    This may or may not surprise you to find out, but feeling aimless at 25 is totally normal! And not just for INFP’s. I am an INTJ and was very much a late bloomer, and like you, I also need significant amount of time alone every day.

    While having my family (spouse and 3 kids) is very fulfilling for me, it’s laughable to think that you should have a family because you like alone time. What alone time?! Eventually the babies stop sleeping all day and want to do things. Get YOUR life in order before having a family. Make yourself the most attractive mate you possibly can, and fine a job or career that interests you where you like the people you work with, and feel valued. The amount of $$ you earn probably shouldn’t be your priority, but finding the ideal company and workmates should be. Then use that same philosophy to find a good life partner.

  9. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    I wish I had something magical to tell you, but I don’t. I am an INFP and am similar, although twenty years further down the road.

    First off, you are doing pretty well right now. You are aware of where you are in life and you are reaching out. That is impressive. Just keep doing that over and over, and probably most things will work out.

    You will most likely never find a job you like. Not ever. If you find one that is sustainable, keep it for as long as you need the money, quit it as soon as you don’t. Don’t get attached to it’s prestige or intertwine your identity with the job, its a drain in the long run. This is difficult to do though, everyone in the world likes to attach people to jobs, even ones they don’t like. Then you are ‘that girl who has the job she doesn’t like.’

    Often you will be offered a binary decision, either you are a career person, or a mother. And people will try to put you into one of those boxes, always assuming you forsook one for the other. But you don’t have to pick really, and from what I have heard, being a mother has a long list of its own problems. You don’t have to pick, all you have to be is you. You have to figure out how to be you, even when multiple forces around you want you to give an answer, to questions you don’t even care about or want to answer.

    Yes you have to take care of yourself somehow, and yes maybe you will have kids some day. But through either of these, you still have to be you. Make it a strong, resolute, positive, make no excuses, you.

  10. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    Fellow INFP here, but 14 years older (and English is not my mother tongue). I agree with what some other INFPs have said here: we are not going to love any job, we are just too much open to wonder and explore new ideas, new possibilities, all the time, to be able to enjoy a long-term career in a given field. So I will suggest to find any job that pays well, it is not against your values, and gives you time for yourself (we need loads of that), read and think.

    I am a scientist, but I always daydream about becoming a kind of counselor, because people had always told me that I am a great listener, very empathetic, and I love to empower others, and I hate all the technical parts of my job. But I have the same resistance around this than you are encountering. Guess this is typical of INFPs :)

    Longtime ago, I chose to not have children, and I am very happy about it. A family of your own is the opposite of having time for yourself (I see this all the time around with my friends). In my current life, I have time for pursuing all the things I really want to do. Moreover, I think it is important, all your life, to be able to get some sort of income (even small) by yourself. Even if you find your ideal partner today, you never know if, 20 years down the path, you (or him) are going to change your/his mind (or leave/die/etc…).

    • Mary
      Mary says:

      “A family of your own is the opposite of having time for yourself.”

      The truest thing ever written.

      As an INFJ, I spent my 20s wanting to have kids. But… I need a lot of alone time, and now I never have any. I haven’t for years, and it’s porbably going to be a decade until I do again.

      OP said “there are times where I feel like I don’t want to be listening to people’s problems.” If you get married & have kids then get ready for that to be your every day, for decades.

      • Mary
        Mary says:

        Interesting…I had previously done the Meyers Briggs test and came up INFJ. Just did it again today out of curiosity and it came back INFP.

  11. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    I’m not sure this is an INFP thing – this business of never finding a job you love. I think it has more to do with the job market. Every year since 2000 – so, long enough to be more than a blip – there haven’t been enough new jobs added to the economy every year to mop up all the new people coming of age and trying to get into the workforce. For a long time now, the job market has been a game of musical chairs, and that is just going to suck for anyone who has to work. It’s so easy to over-think this, and blame yourself, and try to keep figuring out what you are doing wrong, but it’s a pretty simple equation: not enough jobs, too many people.

    If you can manage your expectations around this, it will be a huge relief. Only 13% of American workers are engaged in their work. Twice that many (26%) are hostile and actively disengaged. The rest – the majority – are simply tuned out and do not care. This is probably the smartest and most adaptive move, and I hope some of the actively disengaged people out there start learning now to not give a f***.

    I agree with another commenter about the false dichotomy between career and motherhood. Like there aren’t a million things to do out in the world, like have great friends you see every week, good books to read, bikes to ride, beautiful things to make out of needle and thread (or clay, or ceramic), things to paint, new recipes to try … No, no, those are just “playing.” You’re not a real woman unless you devote yourself to children or devote yourself to a company. Someone important is being left out of the equation here. What do you enjoy? What do you do that makes you forget to eat and ignore the passage of time? Find a job you can tolerate, don’t expect more than that out of it, and just work enough to pay for doing the things you love.

    Under no circumstances would I ever recommend that anyone become financially dependent upon another person. Whether you get married or not, have kids or not, or get excited about a career or not, you should have your own money.

  12. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I’m an INTJ with a 10 month old, I was expecting to feel the lack of alone time keenly, but I have to say that spending time with my baby has been more calming and recharging than I ever expected. Perhaps it will change (certainly it will change, what am I saying?) but for now it works.

  13. Malloreigh
    Malloreigh says:

    “No job will make you as happy as finding a soul mate”

    This would never be said to man, where does it say she’s piroritizing work over love? even if this advice is geared towards INFPs, she never claimed making money was her highest priority, she’s looking for full filling work, this “just get married and have a baby” is getting tedious.

    This women came to Penelope for career advice and she gives her relationship advice? because marriage is the magic bullet for happiness? divorce rates would say otherwise and quite presumptuous to assume if she gives birth she will love being a stay at mom and not want to work.

  14. Cheri
    Cheri says:

    INFJ here!

    I think there is real truth in what Penelope says here:
    “It’s exhausting to you to be around people and to be told what to think about — which is what working is about. If you use all your energy for work then there will be nothing left for the people at home who you care about most.”

    I wouldn’t focus my energy on finding a spouse, because I think that will happen or it won’t. But when you think about “work” it has to be something that is deeply connected to your values so that you don’t mind ‘being around people and being told what to think about.’ And I have to say that even when you are deeply connected to the values, you will be exhausted in the typical work environment, because – people can be exhausting.

    I am a mom and I work full-time, and work exhausts me more than having two young children…even when my kids were newborns. Because office politics, people, and the baggage that comes with a typical job is EXHAUSTING for an INFJ/P.

    In an ideal world you would have a career where you can work independently and remotely (as some folks mentioned above) this will help balance all the people time, and if you choose to have kids, allow you to have enough energy for your family.

    And while I agree that moms don’t have alone time, they do eventually once the kids are in school (assuming they are not working full-time). There is time to read, exercise, volunteer…that is what replaces going to an office every day.

    NOTE: This only applies to moms who really DO NOT HAVE TO WORK because they have a ton of resources. I do know moms who don’t work but fill their alone time with house-related chores and volunteering at the school, basically replacing a full-time office job with a full-time mom job. That’s also something to think about. Sometimes in order to stay home full-time, you have to pick up a lot of the home responsibilities which can become a full-time job. (Dry-cleaning, bills, doctor’s appointments, after-school activities :-o)

    So focus on independent and remote work that pays a respectable wage, and don’t put yourself in debt going to school. My two cents.

  15. LiberatedINFP
    LiberatedINFP says:

    You need to overcome your INFP type. Don’t fall into it- move away from it with great respect. Never deny what you are but also never try to be an INFP. You will end up always leading with feelings and that gets you nowhere. Learn to lead with objective cold, hard overviews of every aspect of life. Then factor in that you are a butt hurt, baby, and get the job done. INFP’s are the softest, most vulnerable, sniveling feelers on earth. And good writers ( as you can see here). Overcome that bullshit. Be your own best friend and don’t deny what you are. But don’t wear it like a badge. Overcome it. If you can get a house and rent rooms you will have income. That kind of job will be minimal crap work for you but provide income. You will never find a good career because INFP’s are beyond careers. You could do anything you choose but you don’t want to and that’s fine. Discipline will liberate you. INFP’s are best when they are beyond themselves. Get to work.

    • Ray
      Ray says:

      This response holds a lot of truth. It’s profound, really. For me, finding out I was INFP aged 29 was both absolutely terrifying and liberating. I was in total denial at first – this was not what I wanted to be. Through acceptance, though, the first part of my life up to that point started to make a lot more sense. I had near-burned out in a super-sales job that I had no capacity for, and had at least moved into the non-profit sector with some zeal and gusto. That gusto lasted about 3 years before I had a major life realization that I’d gone as far as I felt I could with the talents I had; but then other doors started opening up.

      Being an INFP generally means you care passionately about the wellbeing of others. Today’s world is a huge asshole – it tramples ALL over people with this kind of compassion. In my experience, go back to when you were a kid – right back. What did you excel at? Speak to your family, your parents, what did they say you were really good at in school? Chances are it was an introverted, expressive, spiritual or emotional type of activity. These are generally the arts, or helping professions. You need do need contact with others because you care very much, which is where Penelopes post makes sense; you can invest all your deep, intense love towards the children. You also deserve to shine your own light in your own way – strip back the layers and go back to when you were a kid and none of this ‘what should I do with my life’ bullshit existed for you. Maybe you were really talented and then school beat it out of you? Or someone else? Follow those talents…work hard, and invest in yourself. You may always be searching — learn to accept that — but try to avoid the addiction of the search. Nothing will ever be perfect…but, if you’re using the talents you were born with you’ll be a hell of a lot happier. Then, if you want to make money, yes, find someone whose more motivated and better at it than you. Who knows, though; you may just end up making a few bucks from your talent. Try it. Try it now before life passes you by

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      “You need to overcome your INFP type.” This is the best thing ever. I think I’ve been searching for this for a while… I keep retaking the MBTI test to see if I could get another personality type, because being an INFP, I always hate where I work. I can never be happy in a job. It’s depressing. Maybe if I had another personality type, ‘writer’ wouldn’t be at the top of my list of jobs that are suited for me. I’ve been writing for the last two years as a SAHM. I publish books on Kindle. You pretty much have to write to market to guarantee any sort of income. I am starting to HATE writing because of this. Also, I’ve made about 4,500 dollars in the last two years… AND I worked my ass off writing stories that mean nothing to me, on an emotional level. I’m not making enough. I need to overcome the flaws of my personality. I need a regular job. I need tools to be able to handle rude co-workers. I need tools to overcome the drama between co-workers. I need tools to calm myself down when I start to get anxious.

  16. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    I did medical massage when my kids were in high school. It’s a certificate training (varies by state, mine was 650 hours, which can be done full time in 9 months, or part-time over a year or more) and then you pay for a state license every year. It’s a low people stress job, if you don’t mind medical stuff, and it’s quiet work. Also, clients always said “thank you,” after their session. Made me happy. I worked in an expensive city, and the cash tips were nice. It’s becoming a bigger wellness thing these days. Pretty easy work, if you’re already into fitness. Just a thought.

  17. Conswela
    Conswela says:

    Being honest with yourself is going to help you decide what your most passionate about. Do some research on what jobs/careers go right with your interest and pursue the one you feel strongly about. Don’t think about money or how much the income is but your motivation to make an impact, every job has it difficulties don’t let that discourage you

  18. Nigel
    Nigel says:

    Hm, i have not seen anyone talking about this – what about an infp male? What’s the best job for an infp male?

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