How to Cultivate Meaning in Your Work and Life as an INFJ

a book and flowers representing an INFJ personality finding meaning in their work and life

Lately I’ve been in a season of trying to launch my career and find a job that is truly meaningful to me. If you’re an INFJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, and you’re not working your dream job, perhaps you can relate. INFJs value doing work that makes a difference. We want to help people. We want to use our gifts. We want to do work that not only interests us, but also impacts others in a positive way.

Of course, INFJs aren’t the only personality type to desire meaning and purpose. Nevertheless, whatever we INFJs choose to do with our lives, we have a strong need for it to be meaningful. Perhaps right now you look at your job and your life and feel that something is lacking. Perhaps you feel stuck and unsure of how to find purpose and fulfillment in your work. Here are five truths I’ve learned in my own journey to foster meaning in my work and my life as an INFJ.

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How to Cultivate Meaning in Your Life as an INFJ

1. Figure out what “meaningful” means to you.

What is meaningful to one person is not necessarily meaningful to someone else. We each have different interests and causes dear to our hearts. You can only discover what is meaningful to you by looking internally at your own values, passions, and gifts.

I recommend developing two lists: a “Job Wants list and a “Challenges” list. You can start by considering each job you’ve had and listing things that were life-giving as well as things that were draining. Next, take note of the patterns that emerge. You’ll likely encounter some things more than once. Some ideas might seem obvious. For example, as an introvert, I prefer one-on-one interaction to large groups, so I was not surprised to see that reflected on my list.

You might also find some unexpected ideas in your list. One that surprised me is “hearing people’s stories.” While not something I would have articulated as a job want, it’s something I’ve really enjoyed in my interactions with people in the workplace. As you analyze your lists, develop a summary list of job wants and challenges. Then you can begin to evaluate specific job opportunities to get a better idea of how they align with your expectations. You’ll also be able to see how your current job ranks.

I would urge you not to shy away from taking a job just because it has some of the items on your Challenges list, but rather to use that list to help you weigh the joys and downsides of each job. Perhaps you love teaching and interacting with students, but you find it draining to be with people all day. You may decide it’s worth it because teaching is meaningful. Being aware of your challenges in the workplace will help you find ways to overcome and cope with the difficulties. For example, as a teacher, you can set boundaries for yourself outside of work to ensure that you get enough alone time to recharge.

2. Recognize what’s already meaningful about your life.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to feel stuck in a job or a season of life that we don’t love. While there is nothing wrong with dreaming and planning for the future, we INFJs need to also make sure to be present in our everyday life and to recognize the blessings we already have. The reality of life is that we will always have wants, but let’s not forget to acknowledge the positives we didn’t have before.

I encourage you to cultivate gratitude in your life. As a single woman in my late 20s, it’s so easy for me to feel lack in my life when I look around at my peers who are married with children, but when I instead focus on the gifts I currently have, I don’t see lack; I see abundance; I see beauty.  I see so many positives in my current season (the solitude of living alone, the amazing people I work with every day, time to devote to my hobbies, etc.).

Daily cultivating gratitude allows me to notice the meaning that already exists in my life. There are many ways to practice thankfulness, but lately I write what I’m thankful for on a sticky note and post it on my mirror. As I get ready in the morning, I verbalize my gratitude. This allows me to walk into work each day remembering the abundance in my life rather than focusing on unfulfilled dreams.

3. Find ways to add meaning to your work.

Sometimes we want to change jobs but can’t because of financial or logistical reasons. Sometimes we want change, but we aren’t sure what we’re looking for. There’s no reason we can’t add meaning to our current work. I really value building rapport and encouraging others. At a time when that wasn’t part of my job description, I carved out time to daily chat with my coworkers. When things were slow, I would talk with them about their lives, and over time, I built rapport with them, which eventually gave me opportunities to share in their lives and encourage them.

Look back at your Job Wants list. Which of those things can you intentionally add to your work today?

4. Pursue meaningful opportunities outside of work.

While you probably hope to find meaning in the 40+ hours you may spend at your workplace, it’s important to remember that you are more than your day job. Consider other ways you might add meaning to your life outside of your work. For me, serving in the youth ministry at my church is meaningful as it allows me to invest in people in a different way than I do at my day job.

Consider other activities, hobbies, and organizations already present in your life or anything new you can start. Perhaps you love music — why not spend time pursuing that hobby? Maybe you have a heart to help refugees — why not become a volunteer at a refugee resettlement organization? Also consider the people already in your life — your family, friends, community. How can you make your time with them more meaningful? As we do this, let’s not forget that our jobs, whether we enjoy them or not, are in fact meaningful in that they give us the ability to take care of ourselves and enjoy the time we spend outside of work.

5. Realize that your worth, value, and identity are not determined by what you do.

Like many others, I think we INFJs often try to find our identity in the things we do — in our occupation and our various roles. But remember: What you do is just one part of who you are. It’s not the core of who you are, and it’s not where your worth and value come from. For me, my identity is firmly rooted in my Christian faith. But regardless of your spiritual convictions, I think we can all recognize that we love our people not for what they do, but for who they are. Do you love your best friend because she is a nurse, or do you love her because she is kind, tenacious, and loyal? In the same way, remember that your people love you for you, not just for your occupation.

Of course, we’d all like to land our dream job — and I hope someday soon that you do. But in the meantime, INFJ, you don’t have to earn anyone’s approval through the work you do. When you surrender to simply doing good work that helps others (because that’s what we INFJs love to do), life can be rich with meaning at any stage of your life.

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