work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself toit.
* * *
refrain among INFJs -- of EVERY age -- is "I don't know what I want
to be when I grow up." Another variation is, "I don't know what to do with my life."
many of them look like they DO know -- they are often successful and look quite
"together" and on purpose. Especially the ones with M.B.A.'s or
lawyer credentials. But sometimes that appearance is
deceiving. Real deceiving, because I get more hits and feedback on this
page than any other page on my entire site. So it's a bleeding wound for
INFJs in some way.
be funny things. Research has shown that most people just fumble around and
finally end up somewhere in their thirties. That's when they start
wondering in a more proactive way what they should be doing with themselves.
(Oftentimes our tertiary or even inferior function has the most influence over what career
direction we ultimately choose, and then we feel somewhat unfulfilled by our
One of the
most profound changes of the last decade is that each person today is now the
architect of his or her own career. You can no longer rely on a
corporation to take care of you and accept responsibility for your long-term
success in your work life. Recent studies show that the typical adult now changes careers
between 5 and 7 times during their lifetime -- a dramatic shift away from the sort
of career path we were encouraged to follow as recently as 20 years ago.
As a result, you must think and act for yourself, and act as if you are
president of your own personal services corporation. Self-help experts
insist that you are always self-employed, no matter who signs your
paycheck -- and the biggest mistake anyone can make is to suppose that they work
for anyone but themselves.
To make it
worse, there are three kinds of work to be had. There are jobs, there are
careers, and there are callings. (What INFJ would not like to find their
break this work question down into some component parts.
ask what they're good at -- what they're naturally suited for.
And the answer is that every type can and does succeed in any career if they set
their mind to it. There is NO best-fit between a type and a career per se.
So if you
want to know what career to pursue, it's a good idea to be selfish (gasp!) and get in
touch with your interests, your values, your needs.
Don't think about an occupation -- think about an occu-passion! And ironically, this can be one of the most difficult things for an INFJ to do,
given that our introverted Feeling (the function that knows what we the
individual want) shows up in 6th position in our function hierarchy. That
configuration creates a handicap which must be consciously overcome in
order to obtain optimum work satisfaction. If INFJs don't overcome it,
it's all too easy for them to become "people-pleasers" and attempt to
have the career their mother wants for them, or a favorite teacher, or their
girlfriend. They might even take a "job" to get by in order to
support somebody else's aspirations. It's vital for INFJs to act just a
little bit "selfish" about pursuing work that is personally
fulfilling, and not try to make somebody else happy. That may satisfy you
for a while, but it will eventually grow stale, and then disappointment will
come hard on its heels -- disappointment that you didn't fulfill your purpose on
Real success is finding your life work in the work that you love.
often satisfied with too little -- as long as they are being catalysts, they may
feel that is enough. As a result, they sometimes get drafted into others'
agendas and supporting others toward success. (I found I had to work with
a coach to keep me true to myself and not automatically sell out to outer
demands on me. It is soo seductive to fall into a supportive role.)
greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what
you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world.
of the career challenge is usually, "What do other INFJs do for a
living?" Again, all types can and do succeed in all careers.
And Catalysts in particular are notorious for showing up in all the oddest
places. David Keirsey once remarked that the other Temperaments tend to
congregate in certain "pools" of likeminded professionals, such as the
way Theorists have collected in Silicon Valley, for instance. But he
commented that Catalysts can be found anywhere... doing anything... with
anybody... There's just no clear, identifiable pattern germane to
Nevertheless, here's a typical way that Catalysts would like to
experience work: click
relevant question in looking at a job is not What will I do? But Who will I
to Charles, "INFJs are often attracted to careers in religious professions,
teaching, fine arts, writing, counseling/psychotherapy, psychology, medicine,
architecture, marketing, social sciences, research, and educational
consulting. But you may find enjoyment and excellence doing something
entirely different. Remember to ask, "What do I want?" Type is about
your approach to getting what you want. Regardless of career, INFJs are
attracted to environments or roles where they can approach problems creatively,
understand and express complex ideas, show concern for and inspire others, and
have some privacy in their work." Charles suggests INFJs should
"draw on your thoughtful, creative, and organized style as you manage your
most likely to find interesting and satisfying those careers that make use of
their depth of concentration, grasp of abilities, warmth and empathy, and
ability to organize. INFJs are often found in careers where creativity and
facilitating human development are primary activities. Their orientation to
people, confidence in their insights into the nature of things and people, and
fertile imagination often attract them to careers where they can draw out the
possibilities in others. These same qualities can also lead to exceptional
of careers often chosen by INFJs are the ministry, education (including
religion, foreign languages, and the arts), architecture, medicine,
psychology, media and marketing work, counseling, and fine arts.
Compassionate Visionary, I prefer a work environment that is
with chances to learn and develop
serving a higher purpose
source of opportunities to work with and implement ideas
on growth and development of people
source of opportunity to organize projects and follow through
She goes on
Compassionate Visionary, I value the following skills and activities
that INFJs balance visioning with compassion, and says what they do
naturally is connect ideas to people and values. She says they
prefer to live their values, and they want to actualize their visions.
you're not looking for a new job or career, Dunning's book provides powerful
insights about how INFJs operate. I can't recommend this book highly
enough to fellow INFJ's. (Donna's a really nice person, too!) She
names possible careers for INFJs, but her emphasis is less on a laundry list
of careers than in showing how and where INFJs best "fit." It
really felt like she was speaking my language when I read her description of my
to update this book on a regular basis, so if you are seeking laundry
lists of possible careers, I suggest you drop by the local bookstore or library and thumb through a current copy (although I would never rely on such a
list to select my profession).
Back to Charles
Martin. He describes the INFJ approach to career mastery, and then offers
quietly consider a number of ideal long-term career options before taking
action, and will seek environments that meet your needs to be imaginative,
focused, and to help others. You will connect with a focal group of
contacts but may miss opportunities that come from larger-scale efforts to
connect with others who might have helpful information or valuable
contacts. Your interpersonal skills, insight, and ability to be a quick
learner are pluses. When connecting with others, be sure to sell yourself,
your task orientation, and your ability to have practical impact, in addition to
your people skills. Feelings that the job search is grueling or that you
cannot find your ideal position may get in the way of taking action. You
will naturally gather information through reading and get excited about a new
career idea but may not register key facts and details about a career
option. You will weigh the impact of decisions on yourself and
significant others but may not look in a tough-minded way at the pros, and
especially the cons, of any given option. You may weigh what others want
too heavily. You are good at setting goals but may need to narrow the
focus on exciting possibilities to an explorable short list so practical action
can be taken.
yourself. Reach out to others, sell yourself, tentatively narrow your
options so you can really move into action, and gather facts/data about your
often see work as a mission or service and want work to make a difference for
others. They want to grow through their vocations. INFJs have an
idealistic belief in people and in what they can accomplish, and they act to
promote the alignment of values and actions, calling upon organizations to
"walk their talk." They also like variety and opportunities to
be creative and dream up new approaches.
what leading Type authors have to say. Now I'll give you my answer to "What do other INFJs do?"
Realize, of course, that I'm only talking about INFJs I know personally!
If I lived in a small town and attended church regularly [say], I'm sure my examples
would be different!
describe myself first: I've held down all manner of jobs (my resumes are
online if you want to read them). I used to be a tour guide on the Queen
Mary, many years ago. I worked in retail clothing as a saleswoman (boy did
I suck!) and store manager. I tried to become a dance instructor at Arthur
Murray, but that fizzled. I was a keypunch operator for years, which is how I
about computers. My degree is in theatre, so I call myself an
actress and still perform occasionally. I co-wrote a number of scripts --
some of them quite famous that I never got credit for (another common problem
with INFJs). I've temped for all kinds of companies (my worst gig entailed
identifying lawn mower parts). I was a night-shift word processor for a time, and I
typed scripts for "The Cosby Show," "Footloose,"
"Flamingo Kid," and even the "Jerry Lewis Labor Day
others. I became a freelance computer consultant in 1985, and
later enjoyed developing databases. Nowadays I write, I'm
teaching myself to develop websites and blogsites, and I've begun presenting publicly about
Type (and designing my own sessions, which are getting fabulous feedback). I'm also doing Life
Coaching and have been credentialed as a CPCC -- Certified Professional
Co-Active Coach. (We'll see how that goes, since only a small percentage of
coaches earn enough to make a bona fide living doing it.) I'm loving it so
much that I went through Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC),
and even pursued certification to administer and coach around a Team
Assessment instrument. I am enjoying working with teams (systems)
immensely! As a type expert friend of mine jokes, every INFJ is a social
engineer at heart.
I've achieved the status of PCC with the International Coach Federation now --
Professional Certified Coach, which means I've logged over 750 professional
coaching hours. I've completed a ten-month leadership development program
that included 2 high ropes courses and 4 retreats "off the grid" in
the redwoods. And I've just been accepted into Pacifica Graduate
Institutes MA/PhD program for remote student, specializing in Jungian and
Archetypal Studies, which means I'll be Dr. Vicky in three years if I zip
through the program.)
Have I ever had a
career per se? Well, freelance computer consulting
came closest thus far -- but it felt more like a survival strategy than a chosen
profession, and it was never as rewarding as I imagine a career should be.
I love taking people through a structured Type Insights process and helping
them discover who they are, coaching them beyond that, and also delivering type
workshops via webinar and in person. I can't think of anything more
She became a
because it was her calling. -Anonymous
some stuff about other real-life INFJs I know:
My INFJ girlfriend is an administrative assistant for a chemistry professor at her day
job, but her real love is reading and writing. She holds a master's degree
from USC in "Professional Writing" -- so while she's somebody else's slave by day, at night she goes to
the cinema and writes online movie reviews. She's also written a number of
scripts, including one that became an episode of "Star Trek."
Likewise, I know another INFJ whose college degree is in filmmaking. She's
an administrative assistant at a film studio by day, and she writes scripts at
night. She recently produced a full-length play, and that's being
developed into a low budget film (so they say).
I know a
couple of INFJs who are lawyers, but in my opinion they aren't very happy people
-- maybe even a little bitter and mean-spirited. (They display a bit of
"Tin Man" syndrome.)
quite a number of INFJs who are editors and/or writers, and there are more INFJ
bloggers online than you can imagine! (Although I take it with a grain of
salt when someone claims INFJ preferences -- many, many people are mis-typed as
INFJs.) I know two INFJs who
work happily in Human Resources. I know anothern who works as a recruiter.
I know two INFJ coaches--one of them works as a professional office organizer when
she's not coaching, and then there's Career Coach Helen
I knew an
elderly (70's) INFJ who worked as an on-site property manager until she
turned the apartment complex into a lovely retreat, despite being situated in a poor,
rundown neighborhood in seedy Hollywood. Like me, her
so-called career path was pretty "checkered." She was an
interesting character, having relocated here from her home in England many years
ago. She had a hard life and was dreadfully enmeshed with her adult
children, who took deplorable advantage of her. (She was a great example
in many ways of how to fail as an INFJ.)
two INFJs in Colorado who are stay-at-home moms. There's another
INFJ I know who's homeschooling her six kids, but I don't think she's very happy
because she too seems kind of bitter and mean sometimes. I don't know
whether that's a "career" problem or something to do with relationship
I know two
wonderful INFJ ministers.
INFJ I know located in Boston is a "philanthropy
consultant," and it looks like he does interesting work. He used
to be co-president of Boston's APT chapter. Another INFJ is the president
of the San Francisco Jung Society. Another INFJ works as a director in
Career Services at an East Coast college. One is a music professor.
I know an
INFJ English teacher in Louisiana, and I know an INFJ college professor in Santa
Barbara (but I don't know what
he teaches exactly).
INFJ who got an M.B.A. (and always tests INTJ!), but she works as a trainer in the field of adult
education, which seems rewarding for her. She's expert at designing adult
coursework, which seems like a good use of her natural INFJ skills.
another Type author/expert who started out by getting her M.B.A. before she
started working with ministry and writing about Type. (I wonder just how many M.B.A. INFJ's are out there...?)
my realtor and my financial planner both happen to have INFJ prefs (and I've
been getting the sense there are a lot of INFJ financial planners running around
several INFJ counselors, and at least three INFJ Jungians at the Jung Institute. I know an
INFJ licensed psychologist who came to her career fairly late in life. I'm not sure
what she did before that... I just met another INFJ psychologist from
Tennessee who also works as an OD Consultant. Plus I've met two INFJ
head-hunters, one INFJ who does team coaching, and one who does instructional
INFJ I know who wanted to be a priest but dropped out. Now he's an actor and
screenwriter who works as a substitute teacher part-time... and I think he's
trying to be a "house husband" to his high-profile movie director/producer
(ESTP) wife, although he just became a semi-finalist in a playwriting
competition. Another INFJ has a degree in Graphics Design and is an
aspiring writer who is developing his own animated film projects (he works at a
church to pay the bills for his wife and triplets, although I think he's become
a house husband recently and the wife is going back to the workforce).
just met three more INFJ life coaches! They showed up at a meeting I attended last night! One of them is focused on
abundance/scarcity issues, working with money as an "archetypal"
energy, while another styles herself as a "grief coach." Both
have designed their own training curriculums. (I don't know what the other
one specializes in.) An INFJ went through my Leadership training with me
-- she's a yoga teacher and considers herself a "spiritual guide" in
her coaching work.
three more to the list: one is a business coach, one is an internist, and
another is an ethno-biologist. Fascinating!
several INFJs who were electrical engineers, computer programmers,
scientists -- but on further study they always turned out to be _NFPs who had
mistakenly tested as INFJ. If that's your situation, you may want to heed
this as a clue for clarifying your own type
more fully. According to Do What You Are, INFJs are usually involved in
technical fields as a "liaison" between the technical people and the
end user (which accurately portrays my own recent work in the computer field). The so-called technical careers listed
for INFJs include:
Advocate (technical consultant)
As you can
see, none of these positions emphasizes the technical component over a
communications/relational aspect. (When someone demonstrates a lot of
competence with extraverted Thinking, my antennae go up quickly that this person
may be mistyped.)
note here that INFJs (and Catalysts in general, for that matter) don't always seem
particularly career-driven. With their uncommon gifts, they don't always
find that society asks for or appreciates the sort of talents they naturally
offer. But overall, I
have personally witnessed INFJs attracted to (and happiest in) these
areas (in no particular order):
(English or Adult learning)
Coaching & Mentoring
Therapy & Counseling
list matches Charles Martin's list pretty closely!
modest self-promotion: I became a certified JCDC
(Job and Career Development Coach) several years ago, and there are now a few career assessments I can offer. They are very simple and yet powerful --
and here's a 3-minute video that describes them.
me if you'd like to learn more about or purchase them. (They're inexpensive.) It's a
helpful way to gain some internal guidance about what
career path is best for you! They
helped me clarify my own interests and articulate what I wanted to explore
work-wise, and I notice I am moving more and more in the direction of what I
identified during that experience (almost subliminally so!). I now offer them to you.
words on this topic I want to share are these two quotes:
joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing
is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with
distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of
the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread
with indifference, you bake a bitter loaf that feeds but half a man's
* * *
you are absolutely 100% confident your preferences are for INFJ, would you
participate in my poll?
It's only one question: how
fulfilled are you with your work/career? And then, after you vote, if you
are feeling generous you can share what your greatest challenge is to being
fulfilled. (I love reading what other INFJs are up against -- thank you!)
Again, only vote if you are absolutely confident your preferences are
Don't worry, you can still view the current poll results & the challenges
that have been shared by clicking on the
"view results" link at the bottom of the poll box. (Be sure to
click "View All Comments" to see all the marvelous things people have
written -- though I harbor doubts about some respondents' type patterns given the occasionally
dicey replies. So don't assume everyone truly has INFJ preferences..)
If you're an INFJ looking for a new career, you might consider career
counseling. No kidding! I've already met a number of INFJs in this
field, AND there is an *incredible* amount of interest from this group about
this topic. (I can't believe how many hits I get on this page, and
how many people are anxious to comment.) If that seems counter-intuitive
because, after all, how can you help somebody else figure out their career when
you can't sort out your own -- on the other hand, notice the energy you have
around this topic. You're thinking about it anyway! Imagine being trained and paid to figure out this topic
and get on the other side of it for yourself and for other
people. From that vantage point, it might be a highly worthwhile
venture! (I'm entirely serious. Why not get paid to figure out
something you're already enthusiastic about figuring out anyway? Why not?)
"It is your work in life that is the ultimate
Two additional items I want to add. In the poll comments,
somebody wrote something about studying adult instructional design, and it
really hit me how that sounded like something INFJs would enjoy doing.
Major wow even. The second thing is, I keyed in "life purpose"
as a subject search with the L.A. public library database system, and I was
astonished by how many hits came back with titles about "finding God's
purpose for your life." And it suddenly showed up for me that INFJs
need to express their spirituality (meaning their spirit) in the work they
do. If that isn't present, then what's the point? So I make up that
it's necessary for INFJs to align their spirit and their life purpose to their
career or they feel dead about their work. The third thing (yes, that's
one more than I promised) is that as part of my coaching skills I facilitate guided visualizations.
It's a fabulous way to access your
own iNtuition, which can unlock all sorts of doors for you!
"Your profession is not what brings home your
paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do, with
such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in
-Vincent van Gogh
I don't even want to bring this up, but it seems I must.
I've gotten soo much email on this topic. One person wrote me to learn
which careers would make him successful and rich! (As if I was
keeping those a secret from him...) I got the impression this person
wanted the job that would instantly make him a cross between, I dunno, the Pope
and Donald Trump or something. He wanted the magic combination of power
and money -- huzzah! Oh my goodness. Just give me a minute while I
stop laughing. I'll quote Martha Beck here. Take this in and hold it
close: "No soul's mission in life is to make money. Fulfill
your mission, and you'll find a way to earn money as a
Amen, Martha! As proof, I had the good fortune of meeting
a woman two weeks ago who left her corporate job and was now working with
orphans. She wasn't earning as much money, but she actually loved to go to
work in the morning -- that was more important to her. (She'd learned the
hard way, after years of selling her soul to the corporation.) Now she was
watching her daughter struggle to find the occupation that would pay the bills
and also be rewarding.
I'm not saying it's easy to do. But our culture has us
brainwashed that it's all about money, cash, greenbacks. And if you buy
into that belief, You Are Destined To Be Miserable. There are amazing
stories of people who followed their heart, their dream, pursued what they
loved, what made them happy -- and they became successful. But you never
read about the person who chased the money and suffered for the sake of a
paycheck suddenly realizing their dreams. It doesn't happen. They
have to forego that before they get on the path that's right for them. So
you have to get your values, your priorities straight coming out of the
gate. Do the thing that makes you happy, and your life will somehow
work. It really will! (It always does. That's the reward for