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Don't Fit In! - Career Choices for the INFP Personality Type

Updated on April 23, 2012
Finding Your Path
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Case Study of an INFP - Using the MBTI to help design your life

This is a follow on from the prior hub on understanding the basic theory of the MBTI.

Now we understand where the code comes from and what it means we can now apply it to design our lives in accordance with who we are. In essence the quote 'horses for courses' where you choose the right racing horse to match the condition of the course to be run on springs to mind. People often times find themselves unhappy when what they do is not aligned to who they are and what they are suited to. Equally the same applies in reverse when the horse matches the course that individual feels more fulfilled and happier in their place in the world.

I will demonstrate this with a simple hypothetical case study. We will use a fictitious woman called Angela. Angela has been working in a financial services institution for the last few years but finds herself unhappy and unfulfilled in her job. Her discontent leads her to seek out a life coach who suggests the MBTI as a tool to better understand her strengths and weaknesses.

Angela does the test and finds she is an INFP - using the our prior knowledge from the previous hub we can see that this means that she is an introverted (I) individual who in theory prefers working on her own without external distractions, prefers to gather and work with information which is more abstract or conceptual in nature (N), to make judgements and decisions on this information using her feelings, emotions and values (F) and lastly prefers unstructured, creative environments where deadlines and structures are not so important (P).

If we now compare her MBTI preferences to her actual job the roots of her unhappiness become apparent.

Her daily job involves talking and interacting with many people either face to face or on the phone without much alone or 'downtime' (E), often she works with bank accounts and factual concrete details linked to finances (S), the job she does entails putting aside her compassion and empathy for those she deals with to make clear cut rational, logical decisions based upon the facts (T) and lastly her job requires the production of reports and assignments to strict deadlines and her day to day routine is tightly structured and regimented (J).

As you can see, she as INFP is in completely the wrong environment to thrive, which is more suited to an ESTJ - the exact opposite of who she is!! These frustrations she has been experiencing with her work have also been borne out in the interactions she has had with the people around her in her work environment and with the institution as a whole. Angela often finds she is able to develop rapport and help her workmates out with emotional issues (not in the remit of her job) but she finds she has nothing in common when talking about work related stuff with her coworkers.

Increasingly her managers have noticed her discontent and also have found themselves annoyed by Angela's need to work in different ways than what they are used to and expect from past and present employees. This has led to her bosses showing their discontent to Angela even though her work has been satisfactory. All in all relationships, both from her and towards her have been strained by the incongruence of fit between the job and her personality type.

If she were to change her work to be more aligned to who she is the coach believes she would find greater satisfaction and happiness on a daily basis. From the vast reading Angela has done online it seems she is better suited to a self-employed career as a creative writer, or investigative journalist, designer or spiritual healer which are more aligned to her own preferences and ways of working and which bring with the ability for her to work on her own terms, pace and loose schedule.

Angela realises that her career is only one area of her life impacted by her MBTI personality type and she goes about redesigning other areas of her life such as relationships, hobbies, travel and life goals based upon who she really is as opposed to who society thinks she should be. She finds it difficult to not conform but ultimately finds the greater reward in being herself.

This last point is very important - as stated prior there are no right or wrong answers and similarly right or wrong people - ultimately designing your life boils down to - Horses for Courses!


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      Northern Lights 123 3 years ago

      I'm an INFP who's also struggling to find a suitable career. At the moment I'm unemployed and have been so since March I live in North Europe where there's more space for the introverted folk to live their dreams. Although I haven't found my "thing" yet I'm happy that I've found something - politics. It's a great NF outlet to socialize with like-minded individuals from all walks of life and gives me a feeling of importance. I've also learned to become more stronger, flexible, assertive and "extroverted" in the process after being on radio, stage, TV and doing public speeches for big audiences. It gets easier time after time. What I've also noticed is that people can't even believe these days that I was once a shy, coy and silent child. I had to survive 10 years of bullying as a child, my father's unemployment and drinking problem and my own anxiety and depression since my teenage years. I'm a 28-year-old woman now who is more in tune with herself that she was before. I actually even look better than five or ten years ago due to that =)

      The funny thing is, I have a friend who I suspect to be also an INFP. She's been working in insurance sales for ten years and is surprisingly one of the top salesmen in her branch. We IN's may be relatively rare but I've noticed that I know many INTJ's and INFJ's plus some INTP's.

      There' a local political community that had some time ago a poll of member's MBTI types. The most common type was actually INTJ following INTP's, ENTP's, ENFP's and INFP's, believe it or not! I had to leave the community some time ago after getting into petty fights with the INTJ's...they can be pain in the ass for a sensitive INFP (logic doesn't always respond well to a feeling, especially in the The fields of politics).

      Participation in politics has done great job in my The development. I had no idea of that before getting to know MBTI over a year ago. The first test result concerning the theory was INFP but it just seemed so otherworldly and depressing that I couldn't believe it at first hence I had developed this sort of ENTP look-a-like personality with strong Se and The functions (I've played soccer for three years, I've practiced running/jogging for 14 years and done other not-so-INFP-practices to please others). So I was confused with my type for over a year until I saw a pattern in making friends with Ne users like ENFP's and INTP's.

      My current boyfiend is most likely an ESTP. He may be harsh at times from my point of view and I occasionally seem unrealistic to him but I am really happy about our relationship. His Se and Ti balance my Fi and Ne perfectly plus he as a 31-year-old man is mature and more open to Fe wievs than his younger counterparts. We've been together for five months now and have spent almost every day together since we got together. I will (officially =D) move in with him next month. We've also discussed marriage and's unbelievable but I'm happy.

      Right now I'm just in an anxious and depressed state. I will get through this by being very honest with myself and spending some alone time. Life feels very hard at the moment but when I'll get through this I'll be stronger than ever, I know. He'll have the best girlfriend, wife and maybe a mother to his future child. I love him more than I've ever loved any man.

    • Valene profile image

      Valene 4 years ago from Missouri

      Any INFPs who have found meaningful work that fits their personality, please share here! "Nice work if you can get it, and if you get it, won't you show me how?!"

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      TheFrancis 4 years ago

      Valene and Claire, I also agree. Apparently the local forum expert does not have an answer for that!

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      Claire 4 years ago

      I agree with Valene, I've found out I'm an INFP but I don't have the confidence to go self employed in competitive, unstable fields like writing.

    • Valene profile image

      Valene 5 years ago from Missouri

      This is all true, but the reality is, especially in these times that one is more likely to find work in the world of ESTJ. I've known for years that I'm better suited to more abstract work, but you've got to be darn enterprising to make your entire living by being a creative writer or "spiritual healer." That takes a lot of belief in yourself, determination and even organization, things which aren't always easy for INFPs to muster. I find myself living "incognito" in my job as an administrative assistant which pays well and offers a lot of security but not much outlet for who I am, and certainly drains me of energy as I try to be organized, detail oriented and logical, all against my grain. The kinds of work best suited for INFPs are also some of the riskiest and most volatile markets in which to work.

      What would work best for me would be not needing a job! LOL!

    • Self Help Tips profile image

      Self Help Tips 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks :-)

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      SHT, I don't usually comment back but just wanted to respond to your response. That's so cool that your sister is INFP, too, and has the same concerns.

      I like what you are saying about structure. That is a very good point: it is finding the inner motivation within us that we need.

      Thanks for awesome advice and all the best with your coaching!

    • Self Help Tips profile image

      Self Help Tips 5 years ago from UK

      Hello PrairiePrincess

      Thank you for your comment and I glad you liked the post.

      It's always nice to meet a fellow NFP - I'm and ENFP. My sis is an INFP hence my understanding of the type - she's who Angela is modelled on :)

      She is thinking of going self-employed too and worries about structure also.

      What I tell her though is that if her values are sufficiently engaged - basically if she feels that whatever she is doing is 'worth it' (financially or more usually emotionally) - then she will find a way to introduce that structure into the task.

      Anyway I'm rambling - thanks again


    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      What a great hub on the INFP personality type. I am this type and all of this fits me very well. The only problem with being self-employed, for the INFP, is providing the structure within ourselves to really push through and get things done, to make things profitable!

      Great hub ... thanks for sharing! I am now following you!