Why Do INFPs Jump From One Thing to Another?

An INFP man considers how he jumps from one thing to another.

My storage unit looks like a boneyard of dead hobbies. A mountain bike leans against a wall, but at one time, I couldn’t stay off the trails. A plastic tote full of snorkeling gear is sitting in the corner, from a time when I wanted to become a freediver. An old box of woodworking tools rests beside that tote, from when I was into making furniture. And I’d have to fight off the spiders to get to all my books about art, photography, and sailing.

As an INFP personality, I tend to jump from one thing to another.

If you’re an INFP, you know that this tendency can also bleed over into choosing a career. Just when you decide on a career path, something new inevitably catches your attention — like a child tugging on the back of your shirt saying, “Look at me! Look at me!”

Your interest breaks from your original idea and you start joyfully digging into a new one.

I can’t count how many times I’ve told someone that I have a new business idea — only to be cut off with a “for this week…” or a “when are you going to stick with something?”

It can be frustrating to wonder if you will ever stick with anything, as you hop from one idea to the next.

Let’s explore why INFPs tend to jump from one thing to another (hint: it was to do with our Extroverted Intuition). Plus, as a career coach, I’ll give you my advice for finding a career you can stick with.

What Is Extroverted Intuition?

You’re staring at the menu of your favorite restaurant. Your mouth starts to water thinking about the chicken quesadillas you love so much.

While everyone else figures out what they want, your eyes scan the menu. Suddenly, you notice the huevos rancheros.

I wonder if I would like it? you think. But you know that the chicken quesadilla is your favorite.

After a little back and forth, you make the decision to explore this new meal. What an adventure! Low and behold, it’s amazing.

You, my friend, have tapped into your Extroverted Intuition — otherwise known as Ne.

(Sorry for the food metaphor. I’m hungry.)

According to Carl Jung’s theory of cognitive functions, when an INFP makes a decision, Ne comes in second to another process known as Introverted Feeling (Fi). Fi does not use logic to make a decision. It uses how we feel about the decision according to our values. In other words, it asks, “Which choice feels right for me?”

Ne, on the other hand, craves new ideas and experiences to explore, which causes INFPs to always be on the lookout for something novel.

Unfortunately, INFPs can get stuck in a loop, going back and forth between their Ne and Fi. They search to understand their values by constantly trying new things. They ask themselves, “Does this feel right?” then throw it over their shoulder as they move on to something else.

Sound familiar?

The INFP Career Problem

Jumping from one thing to another can be fun when it comes to hobbies but torture when trying to nail down a career.

Eventually, as INFPs, we may begin to distrust our ability to stay satisfied. We fear that after struggling through all the ups and downs of a career change, we will lose interest when we get there.

But we can break this pattern by understanding our values and certain work traits that we enjoy.

Look for a Repeating Pattern

To better understand your values as an INFP, think about your hobbies. Hobbies all have an underlying value to them and are a great way to use your Ne. Think about the specific attributes you love most about your hobbies. Use those attributes to draw out values.

Take canoeing for example:

  • Love of nature (outdoors)
  • Trip planning (goal setting)
  • Alone in the outdoors (freedom, autonomy)

How about exercising:

  • Weights (working with your hands)
  • Making a program (goal setting)
  • Being fit (freedom to be mobile, wellness)

If you enjoy reading nonfiction:

  • Biographies (people’s life stories)
  • Self-help (personal growth, understanding)
  • How-to (learning, growth, independence)

And the same goes for painting, gardening, yoga, or any other kind of hobbies. Dig into those hobbies that you leave but keep coming back to.

In other words, there are underlying values that bring you joy, and it’s up to you to discover them. Look for a repeating pattern.

Let’s say you love being outdoors. Working with your hands has always been a joy, and having those hands in the soil puts you at peace. Looking through your hobbies, you also find that you value autonomy and beauty.

The first career that comes to mind using these values is landscaping. Owning a gardening store or nursery may be a good direction.

Or what about a degree in horticulture? You’ll get to spend plenty of time in the outdoors and have a measure of autonomy.

You Have Permission to Explore

If you don’t have any hobbies, go out and try something new. Even if you’ve been doing the same thing for many years, set out and explore. You can discover new values or reinforce the ones you have now.

Are you are thinking about art? Take a lesson and see if there are any mediums that excite your creativity. Or take an online course on graphic design, if you are leaning in that direction.

When I first attempted writing, I made a goal of writing the crappiest short story known to man. I was “successful” and discovered I like writing.

How about volunteering? This could be a great hobby to explore values and make contacts. There are plenty of places to volunteer.

Turn your Ne up to full blast and absorb new information so you can find out what you like and dislike. Be sure to take notes on your experiences. Make a list like the examples above so you can have your values in front of you. Compare the values of your future career choice to this list to see if they coincide.

INFP, you officially have permission to hop, explore, and discover via your hobbies. And by doing so, you’ll ultimately discover a career that you can stick with.

And if you’d like to further explore your core values, download my free Values Discovery Guide

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Written By

Jeremy is an INFP blogger and the creator of the Realist Idealist newsletter. This newsletter helps INFPs choose a fulfilling career and develop a path to get there. Click here to subscribe or contact him at realistidealistcareers@gmail.com.