When an INFJ’s hobbies or job consistently meet these five needs, they feel deeply satisfied with their work.
I recently came across a sentence that arrested my attention. Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron, in their book, Do What You Are, wrote that INFJs “prefer to focus in great depth on one thing at a time, which can result in periods of single-mindedness.”
(Are you an INFJ? Here are 16 signs that you’re the world’s rarest personality type.)
It stopped me in my tracks and made me, as an INFJ personality, deeply contemplate the kind of work I truly love. And by “work I love,” I’m referring to the activities that genuinely bring me to life, such as researching, synthesizing, and creating.
As the quote suggests, I love work that allows me to deeply focus on one thing at a time, often something that is project-based. If you’re an INFJ (or a similar personality type, like an INTJ), I’m guessing you also enjoy deep-dive projects for the focused engagement they provide.
So, what kind of work truly energizes an INFJ? Through my experience as a career coach working with INFJs, I have identified five key needs for this personality type. When an INFJ’s job consistently meets these needs — or when their hobbies or side projects fulfill them — they tend to feel deeply satisfied with their work, as it allows them to effectively utilize their natural talents.
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The Kind of Work That Excites an INFJ
1. Learning something new
At the core of our personality lies a cognitive function — or mindset — known as Introverted Intuition (Ni for short). Ni is an information-gathering mindset that seeks to unravel the mysteries of the universe (yes, really). It is driven by a desire to understand the “why” and to explore deeply.
This mindset often leads INFJs to engage in constant, thorough research, particularly in subjects that captivate them. (The same is true for INTJs.) For example, an INFJ might spend hours studying the psychological effects of childhood trauma or exploring the latest developments in cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques, as these relate to their career as a therapist.
Every INFJ understands that a good project begins with research; you can’t truly create until you’ve gathered sufficient ideas and information to do the work right. A great project is research-driven and well-thought-out. INFJs derive immense happiness from delving into new knowledge, especially in areas related to the arts and humanities.
Creative projects call for original, out-of-the-box thinking. To be successful, a creative project must be both novel and interesting. Generating fresh, unprecedented ideas is also a strength of INFJs. After all, INFJs possess some strange and peculiar traits, which you can read about here.
This ability stems from their proficiency in using Ni, which excels at making connections. Creativity, at its core, involves forming connections that no one else has made before — at least not in the same way. It’s about merging seemingly unrelated ideas.
When working on a project, INFJs leverage their Ni to transition smoothly from research to the synthesis of ideas. For example, an INFJ might mix ideas from psychology with art to come up with an innovative new type of art therapy. Or, they could blend ideas they’ve learned from different cultures to figure out a fresh way to help people get along better at work.
3. Entering a state of deep concentration and flow
What most people seek in their creative endeavors and work in general is a state of flow, where their minds are “firing on all cylinders.” They crave the right mix of challenge and interest that captures their attention so fully, they might lose track of time. Like everyone else, INFJs want to reach this state of flow, too.
Projects situated in a quiet environment, with ample time and space for thought, offer us the chance to envision, solve problems, and create. We need this sense of calm because, even though we love people, we’re introverts at heart. Loud, busy environments or rushed schedules can be draining and exhausting, leading us to shut down. (Here’s why the right environment is magic for introverts and sensitive people.)
However, just the right amount of stimulation can induce a state of flow, where we’re completely engrossed in what we’re doing and thoroughly enjoying it. The key, again, is to focus deeply on one task at a time.
4. Freedom and autonomy
When you’re working on a project, you can work with other people, or you can work by yourself. If what you’re working on is your own creative endeavor — and not one a supervisor has assigned you — you can work on it when you want, where you want, and how you want.
This is the ultimate trifecta. I didn’t realize how important these three things were to me — and a lot of INFJs — until recently.
When I work, I want the freedom to control “the process and the product,” as the authors of Do What You Are put it. I like to have complete creative control and to be able to make something that measures up to my INFJ standards. In too many other areas of life, external pressures force me to work in noisy environments with lots of people, making subpar products.
So, when I get to work in quiet, by myself, making something I’m proud of, it’s a very satisfying thing. Can you say the same for yourself?
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
5. A strong sense of accomplishment
Everyone enjoys a sense of accomplishment, but for INFJs, it’s absolutely crucial. Despite the fact that we INFJs are largely open-minded learners, we can’t overlook the “J” at the end of our four-letter personality type — we are, in the end, judgers who like to get stuff done, and we won’t be content sitting on creative ideas indefinitely.
Unlike endless recurring tasks and chores, projects end. And when they do, we can see and enjoy the final product. We also get to check the project off as “complete.”
When I started my blog about INFJs, wrote a book about INFJs, and launched a podcast with Introvert, Dear founder Jenn Granneman, those were big moments for me, ones I look back on with satisfaction and gratitude.
What about you? Have you created or finished something that you look back on with delight? Finished projects are not just milestones; they are confidence boosters and motivators for the future. I guarantee they’ll feed your INFJ heart.
You might like:
- 16 Signs You’re an INFJ, the World’s Rarest Personality Type
- The Truth About the INFJ Door Slam
- 27 ‘Strange’ Things You Do Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
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