INFPs Are Searching for Meaning, Not Just Status or Money

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People with INFP personalities have ways of seeing and relating to the world that may make them seem like they lack direction or drive. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have passion and goals.

The thing is, we’re dreamers. We’re not interested in “ambition” in the usual sense. Ambition is a desirable trait for many people. But for many INFPs, ambition may actually have a negative connotation. We may feel as though ambition conflicts with the values that are inherently important to INFPs.

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INFPs Are Driving By Meaning

We have visions and goals. But we tend to take our time with the journey before hurrying to a destination, particularly because our visions evolve as we travel down life’s path.

INFPs have an array of creative skills and talents. We may even be leaders. Yet, we’re often more interested in “leading from behind” by empowering others rather than achieving power. Living in a culture that equates success to fame, money, or power can feel alienating to INFPs.

When we’re not aware of the unique ways ambition shows up for INFPs, we can easily assume that there’s something wrong with us. But there’s nothing wrong with us. Rather, we’re determined to focus our energy on that which nourishes our rich, inner lives and makes a positive impact on the world.

Here are some ways ambition might show up for INFPs, as well as some of the challenges that trip us up. By spotting these challenges, we can make our strengths shine.

1. We aspire to make a difference. As INFPs, we’re idealists who seek to spend our time in meaningful ways. Financial gain is rarely a motivator. We’re deeply emotional people who have a natural sense of empathy. INFPs want to know that the work we devote our energy to has a positive impact on the world. INFPs can be extraordinarily passionate in creative and helping professions, and are often crusaders for social causes.

Challenge: INFPs may get excited about a new project but lose motivation if we feel we’re not putting our energy in the most effective place. This is something that I’ve routinely experienced on my vocational path, and it used to make me feel anxious. Now when it happens, I take a moment to acknowledge the pattern. I commit to putting my energy fully into the project for a period of time despite an urge to throw it away. And I recognize that my path will inevitably evolve because it’s my nature — and that’s okay.

2. We’re intent on creating. INFPs thrive on using their creativity in every area of life, not just in a career capacity. INFPs feel stifled by convention. We’re energized when we apply our innovative minds to nontraditional ways of living that align with our values. Our ambition may show up as we explore alternative lifestyles such as tiny home living or cashless economies. We may turn to writing, art, or music to express our vast inner landscapes when we feel our words do not.

Challenge: INFPs often waver between conventional and unconventional living as we reconcile opposing influences within us. In these times, as INFPs, we must turn to our inner compass to allow our imaginative capacity to flourish.

3. We’re dedicated to personal growth. INFPs spend a lot of time self-reflecting. We want to discover our purpose and place in the world. We want to understand ourselves so we can live as our kindest, most compassionate selves. We see personal growth as one of the most worthy goals in life.

Challenge: As highly introspective creatures who often strive toward perfection, INFPs can easily get bogged down in self-criticism. Our inner critic can be ruthless. One way to manage this critic is to write down the negative thoughts and beliefs that arise, ask yourself if they’re actually true, then journal about your strengths and what is true (for example, when you’ve had a success, when you’ve made a strong decision, etc.).

4. We’re impassioned by experiencing the world. We have a restless, curious nature to our personalities. Traveling to new places is sometimes seen as a worthy goal in life for many INFPs. When we connect with a kindred spirit, immerse ourselves in another culture, and witness awe-inspiring nature, INFPs feel in touch with their purpose in life. As an INFP, I lead global retreats for introverts that integrate these meaningful experiences.

Challenge: While INFPs might dig adventure travel, we also find ourselves irritable when we don’t get enough alone time or are faced with too much stimulation. We can be magically happy with few belongings, but may crave a space to root down and recharge for a period of time. Setting up your travel in such a way that allows for time and space for grounding is important for INFPs.

5. We strive for meaningful connection. Emotional connection is vital to an INFP’s mental health. While we isolate ourselves at times, we value human connection, especially with other sensitive souls like us. Shallow, inauthentic relationships won’t cut it for INFPs. Lack of true connection wears us out. But our hearts warm with deep, genuine relationships.

Challenge: Despite appreciating connection, we become overwhelmed when too many social engagements come our way. Or we may wish that our loved ones would connect “the INFP way” only to realize that connection comes in other forms for many personality types. Acceptance and healthy boundaries are vital when it comes to human connection for INFPs.

Interested in traveling with me? I’ve got my annual introvert retreat to Peru coming up in March. You’ll get plenty of alone time and experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World — Machu Picchu! Learn more here

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Read this: 12 Things INFPs Absolutely Need to Be Happy

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