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INFJs are known to be idealistic.

We dream big. Sometimes, so big that others think we are naive or unrealistic.

But what’s unknown to most people or even to ourselves is we INFJs are secretly drawn to materialism too. We kind of have a love-hate relationship with it.

Due to our inferior function, extraverted sensing (Se), we do enjoy some kind of material comfort, money, a decent standard of living, a job that pays well, etc. However, we will feel rather unfulfilled quickly if that’s the only pursuit of our lives. That’s why INFJs are always looking for careers that are meaningful.

We INFJs are constantly torn between pursuing our dreams

and having a job that pays well.

After writing INFJ blog posts for years and communicating with my fellow INFJs, I notice most of us have a career indecision problem. We want to pursue our dreams but we are afraid we can’t make a living out of them. We want a stable income but we get tired of our jobs or feel uninspired when they become too routine and stagnant.

Apart from helping people, INFJs love to learn too. It’s common for us to change careers multiple times, especially once we have learned what we wanted from our jobs. As for myself, I had different careers in my life. I switched from the finance industry to the arts and entertainment industry before I became a tutor and a writer.

We are always looking for the perfect job that satisfies both our idealism and financial needs. But we are often stuck in indecision because we procrastinate and are afraid of making a mistake. We know how costly and time-consuming it can be to change careers and get the necessary qualification for the new job. If we go through all this and realize in the end that the job isn’t what we want, it can be very disheartening.

So in this blog post, I’ll be sharing how we can handle this inner conflict of idealism and realism, and how we can feel more at ease when it comes to changing careers and making a career decision.

What Is INFJ Idealism Like?

Unlike other idealist personality types such as INFP and ENFP, INFJs don’t find satisfaction merely from brainstorming ideas and coming out with new possibilities. Our dominant function, introverted intuition (Ni), is rather different from the extraverted intuition (Ne) function. We want a complete vision of what we want before we pursue it. We also want our dreams to be executed according to what we have planned.

Even though INFJs enjoy daydreaming and imagining about the future, we often feel unfulfilled if our dreams remain as dreams. And once we establish a vision or a conclusion for something, sometimes we don’t change our minds. We can get so carried away and stubborn, it’s difficult to talk us out of it.

However, here’s the problem.

We take a long time to come out with that perfect vision.

Instead of creating the perfect vision, we often end up getting into analysis paralysis or a Ni-Ti loop trying to figure out what we want. When finding a job or our life purpose, we keep reading and gathering information, but this only makes us feel more frustrated,  trapped, or indecisive. Sometimes, it’s just impossible to tell if something is right for us until we put ourselves in the role. The information we gathered online is vastly different from the information we experienced firsthand for ourselves.

For example, when I was an animation student, I enjoy learning about how animation works. But when I came out to work as an animator, I realized the constant deadlines and the amount of details I have to focus on to get my task done is too stressful for an INFJ like me. Without having that experience for myself, I won’t know for sure that animation isn’t something I want to do.  Also, because INFJs can be so stubborn once we believe something is right, I had to fall flat on my face to learn that reality is not always the same as what I imagined it to be.

So does it mean we INFJs have to give up on our ideals and be more practical and realistic? No, we just need a good balance between the two. Here’s how we can do so.

INFJ Career Change: How to Balance Idealism and Realism

1. Embrace materialism and realism.

To resolve this inner conflict that we INFJs have, the first thing we have to do is to embrace materialism and realism. What I notice is when people have this righteous attitude against money or rich people, they usually struggle financially. If you have a bad relationship with money, it just doesn’t come to you.

This doesn’t mean we should be materialistic and just focus on our physical comfort or acquiring possessions. It just means we don’t judge people who do or see materialism as a bad thing. Every personality type has his or her own preferences.

As INFJs, we have to learn to appreciate our financial needs and desires,

and not see them as liabilities or obstacles to our vision. 

We have to craft out some time to learn how to manage our money better and review it regularly. But we don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. Lately, I started being more serious in learning about investing after I made a big mistake. I’m not trying to be an expert in it, but I want to make use of the extra savings I have to generate another source of income. So I just pick up the information that is useful to me and ignore the rest. I learn enough for my needs and put in the amount of time I wanted to.

When you take good care of your financial needs, they won’t be an area of concern lurking in the background and causing you to worry. In fact, financial gains can help you to execute your vision. So see it as something positive instead of a liability.

2. Never give up on your dreams, but leave room for changes.

I don’t believe in giving up dreams and being less idealistic. But I do feel we INFJs can be less fixated on having a complete or rigid vision.

My dream has always been to do something I love for a living. A few years ago, I thought that being an animator will fulfill this dream. But later I realize, writing is more suitable for me. The essence of my dream didn’t change at all. The thing that changes is the medium I use to fulfill my dream.

Our dreams become clearer as we progress. INFJs have to leave room for changes, surprises, and new information, and not get too tunnel-vision on the details or how the dream has to be manifested. It’s good to have a rough plan or idea of where we are heading. But we don’t need to figure everything out or have a complete picture before we start.

For example, when I started writing, I didn’t know how I could earn a living from it. I just write because I love to and then the money starts coming in after a few years of doing what I love.

The vision has to be general enough to allow for changes,

and not be so specific that it keeps us stuck.

When you have a vision, what you want to be stubborn about is the essence of your dreams, not the details. The details of our dreams usually don’t follow exactly what we have planned anyway. If you want both financial wealth and a job that is meaningful to you, sometimes it might mean you have to earn income from various sources, not from a single job. If you want to help people, it doesn’t mean you have to do it directly through your job. There are many ways you can help others outside of your job.

But if you want a dream job that satisfies everything, you might be disappointed when your ideals fall short of your expectations. So keep dreaming but let your dreams go. Don’t get too invested in the outcome. It’s better to keep an open mind and allow things to unfold on their own as we pursue our vision.

3. Trust that your dreams will come true.

This inner conflict that we INFJs have between idealism and realism is due to the lack of trust. Deep down inside, we are doubtful and afraid of making a mistake because we don’t believe our dreams will become a reality. We don’t dare to pursue a job that is meaningful to us because we don’t trust we can earn a decent income from it.

You see when someone says you are too idealistic and asks you to be more realistic and practical, what they are actually saying to you is they don’t see how your dreams can be reality. As established previously, you don’t need to know exactly how to achieve your dreams to get started. Ideas will start flowing to you once you take some action.

Also, just because most people don’t know how something can be manifested, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The so-called “reality” that we are told to live, is the reality of others. It’s based on what they can visualize or see right now. It’s their paradigm, not ours.

Dream and reality can co-exist.

You create your own reality based on what you believe in.

Before airplanes are invented, the reality is humans cannot fly in the sky. Someone had a vision and brought their dreams into reality. It came from someone’s imagination! They never give up on their dreams because they trusted their vision can be reality. If you don’t believe in your dreams, you won’t start and you won’t take action, or you will give up easily whenever you face a challenge. 

Dreaming is not the opposite of being realistic, especially when you manifest your vision into reality. It’s only unrealistic when you don’t trust your vision, don’t take any action, and let your dreams stay as daydreams forever.

4. Dream big, but take small actions and learn to be satisfied with what you have now.

We INFJs can be overwhelmed by our own vision because sometimes our dreams are too grand for us to execute. For example, most INFJs have this desire to help humanity. But if we try to save the world and carry all the responsibility on our shoulders, we end up hurting ourselves and feeling depressed.

Our dominant cognitive function is introverted intuition (Ni) and our inferior cognitive function is extraverted sensing (Se). This means we love to imagine and daydream, rather than to take action. But it also means our vision tends to be way bigger than how much effort we would like to put in.

Being aware of the dynamic between these two functions, I learn to be patient and focus on the tasks at hand. Instead of feeling frustrated about not reaching my goals fast enough, I take it slow. My vision doesn’t have to be completed quickly. In fact, vision is never meant to be completed. When we realize a dream, a new desire is born. There’s always more to come. So I take as much action as I can each day and be happy with it.

Learn to be satisfied with your current situation.

Don’t wait till your dreams get manifested before you be happy.

We INFJs have this gift of seeing how things can be improved and be better. But unfortunately, for some of us, this also means we constantly live in dissatisfaction. After finding a job that is meaningful to us, we start to see how it could be better. If we aren’t able to make it better, we soon feel unhappy with our jobs and want to seek something else.

The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s not about finding the perfect job; it’s about appreciating your current job. One can jump from career and career and still feel unfulfilled. That’s because they are bringing their negative energy to their next job. The problem doesn’t lie with the job, it lies with them.

Before I change careers, I always write down what I like and dislike about my current job. Even though I felt depressed when I was an auditor, I still had a list of positive things I’m grateful for. Regardless of how much you dislike your job, you can still feel grateful for the salary and experience you receive. Also, every job gives you more information about yourself, and what you like and dislike. It helps you clarify your vision and pick a better job next time.

Lastly, there is no such thing as a perfect job! Most work requires you to use more than your top two cognitive functions. Even for writing, I have to use a lot of my third function, Ti (introverted thinking), to organize my writing and insights from my Ni (introverted intuition) function in a logical manner. To be a healthy INFJ or any personality type for that matter, you want a balance. It’s not about annihilating your weaker functions.

So find a job that utilizes more of your top two functions, and not a job that only uses what you preferred.

If you want to find out more about how to love yourself as an INFJ, be sure to download my free eBook called Self-Acceptance for INFJs.

Featured Photo Credit: Julia Avamotive