What is the meaning of life?
Why are we here for?
What is the purpose of our existence?
We INFJs seek meaning in everything we do. As an INFJ, you probably have thought about your life purpose or the above questions at least once in your lifetime. If not, many, many times.
Feeling lost without a purpose in life is quite common for INFJs.
About four months ago, I received a message from a fellow INFJ’s parent. Her 16-year-old daughter was feeling depressed and saw no purpose in life. She couldn’t see the point of being alive and wondered why are we here on Earth if we are going to die anyway.
I understand where she’s coming from. It’s frustrating for an INFJ to live in a world that is built for sensory extroverts. INFJs are idealists. We want to create a positive impact in the world. We want to help others based on what we feel is good and ideal for humanity. Furthermore, we want to have the freedom to do what we love and execute our vision.
However, the society we live in is more concerned about being successful, making more money, having more possessions, and indulging in sensory experiences. Nothing wrong with that except that this isn’t fulfilling to an INFJ in the long run. Most of us stayed in our jobs not because we find our jobs meaningful. It’s because we have to make a living and pay the bills.
But doing too much of this kills our soul and makes us wonder:
Is this all there is to life?
Work hard, retired, and then die?
INFJs and Existential Crisis Depression
Before we discuss how to find our life purpose, I would like to address the existential crisis depression first.
An existential crisis is a moment when one feels that his or her life has no meaning. It’s so meaningless to the extent that one questions what’s the point of living anymore.
INFJs are at risk of having an existential crisis and the depression that might come along with it because we tend to think deeply about everything. When we overthink about our life purpose and become so fixated in finding a meaningful career, we can get completely lost in our mind and not able to climb out of the dark hole that we have created.
There is nothing wrong with seeking a meaningful career but let’s not to get too attached to what we do and derive our identity from it.
Without your career, who are you?
I had a taste of the loss of identity when I had depression. My whole life up to that point was mainly about what I do for my career. It was about my career change from being an accountant to an animator. Once I recognized that animator is not right for me and I have no idea what my career path is, I just went downward spiral. Suddenly, I didn’t have any identity or meaning in my life anymore.
From my experience, I realize that I focused too much on my career. Life is not about finding a perfect career that is well-paying yet meaningful. A life that is worth living to an INFJ is about the meaning we create.
Finding Meaningful Work Vs. Creating Meaning in Your Work
Often times, we INFJs try to find the perfect career for ourselves only to end up feeling disappointed, depressed or lost.
If you think about it, the world is built for the sensory extroverts because it is built by the sensory extroverts. There are many more of them compared to us and they build the society according to what they desire. Of course, we are not going to find the perfect career path in their world.
But it is what it is. There is nothing fair or unfair about it. Acceptance is key.
Instead of racking our brains trying to find meaning in their world, we have to create a life that is worth living to us, not just take what is given to us at face value. This doesn’t that we should all quit our jobs and just do what we love and not care about our financial stability or society. Rather than seeking a job that gives us meaning, we can create or give meaning to the existing work we do, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.
Meanings have to be created, not found.
For three years, I saw my tuition job as something I do to make a living. At best, I could help students get good grades. But is this something I care about? Not really. I don’t find getting good grades nor formal education benefit the students much.
However, now I see things a little differently. As I tutor, I realize that during lessons, I can also share my insights and help my students learn how to be more self-compassionate, how to cope with stress, and how to relate to their friends and family better, and etc. It’s not the main thing I do, but these are the things that I care about and I can influence my students and change their perspectives. I can infuse meaning into what I do and make my job as a tutor more satisfying and appealing.
You can look for a better career. But at the same time, examine your existing job and see where you can add more meaning to your current work. This gives you some fulfillment while you hunt for your next job.
INFJ Meaning of Life: How to Know Your Life Purpose?
1. Listen to your intuition (Ni) first and foremost.
Everyone has intuition. But not everyone uses their intuitive power as frequently or can access it as naturally as INFJs. Introverted intuition (Ni) is our dominant function and it’s our gift. We intuitively know what our life purpose is and what we desire. You don’t even need to ask me what career to choose or read this article because you probably already know what’s best for you.
The problem is we don’t always listen to our intuition. First, it doesn’t make logical sense, so we tend to doubt it. Second, there are many distractions out there that keep us from staying on track. Unfortunately, because Fe (extraverted feeling) is our second function, we might end up being too concerned with what other people think instead of doing what we intuitively know is true for us.
Once a business mentor told me, the word “insight” is made up of two words, “in” and “sight”. To “see” our valuable insights clearly, we have to turn inwards and block out our five senses (Se). He even showed us his favorite, mini Buddha statue that covers the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
When we please others, we lose our inner guidance.
There will always be people telling you what to do, giving you their advice, and dismissing your insights. Don’t get distracted. You will end following their life purpose instead of your own. It’s not that they don’t have good intention. They just don’t know 100% of what you know, especially when it’s something about you. What they suggest is based on their own experiences and perceptions.
For example, I told the same mentor that I wanted to recommend books on my website and earn affiliate commission. He said it won’t work because people can buy the books directly through Amazon. However, I did it my way anyway because I trusted my inner guidance. He didn’t know how much I love reading and how finding new books to read energize me. I didn’t mind setting up the pages even if they don’t work. And in the end, it gave me some additional income.
I’m not saying that other people’s suggestions aren’t valuable. But you have to know the subtle difference: Do their suggestions resonate with you or are you doing what they suggest just to please them and get their approval?
Trusting your intuition is not about being stubborn. You will still have to be open and adjust your actions accordingly to the feedback you receive along the way. But start with intuition first. Once you know your life purpose, you just know it. If you need someone to tell you what to do with your life, then you haven’t fully tapped into your intuitive gift as an INFJ yet.
2. Let joy guide the way, not fear.
Sometimes, we trust our intuition. But the problem is we find it difficult to tell apart the intuitive voice from other uninspiring thoughts. We might feel a creative impulse to do something but before we can act on it, our rational brain already kicks in and analyzes our inspiration to death. Suddenly, we become so afraid to act that we procrastinate and not do anything about it.
Fear has a purpose but its purpose is to protect your ego. It’s not to lead you to your life purpose. Your life purpose makes you feel good. You feel a gentle pull towards it. There is joy and you feel energized and inspired to act. Fear also induces action but the quality of the action is based on resistance and avoidance. You don’t feel good when you are acting out of fear.
The tricky part is our life purpose gets covered up very quickly by our fear. This makes us confuse whether our life purpose is the real deal or not. If you are not aware enough to capture the initial impulse, you will miss it.
Focus on how you feel, not what you think.
The more you think about the future, the more doubts and uncertainty your mind creates. If you will just pay attention to how you feel now and listen to what gives you joy, things will work out on its own.
Take me for an instance. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I can be a full-time writer. The US tax authority withholds 30% on my book royalties. I hardly make any profit. How is it possible to make a living out of it? Plus, it’s difficult to get noticed when there are so many books in the market. At that time, I was jobless. It didn’t make sense to publish more books because I have to fork out money in advance to have my books edited and etc. But I didn’t care, I enjoy writing and I feel compelled to write.
A month after I published my second book, The Emotional Gift, Amazon started this paid advertising service that allows authors to promote their books. I experimented with it and my books started gaining traction after a year. A literary agent contacted me. Publishers wanted to buy my international rights. Then, last year Amazon UK started the paid advertising service too and I saw my profits grew because the withholding tax between Singapore and UK is 0%! I still don’t earn enough to be a full-time writer yet, but at least it seems possible now.
What I’m trying to say here is the path doesn’t get revealed to you until you follow your impulse and take the first step toward something you feel joyful about. There will always be fear but let joy guide the way, not fear.
3. Be mission-driven instead of career-driven.
The reason why INFJs can’t find a meaningful career is that a career is about WHAT you do, but meaning is about WHY you do something. There is no meaning in a career, you have to give it meaning. If you just see your job as a means for you to make money and survive, then it will never be inspiring.
Having a mission is more important than having a career. A mission is like a never-ending project that is based on your life purpose. Rather than thinking about what you should do for a living, think bigger and deeper. Understand why you want to do anything. This is where your purpose lies. Keep asking yourself why doing something is important to you until you go deep enough and have clarity.
Once you have a mission,
what you do as a career doesn’t matter that much.
I want to live in a peaceful and loving world. One of my missions is to help others be more self-compassionate and peaceful so that they could influence the people around them and create a ripple effect. It doesn’t matter if I’m an author, tutor, filmmaker, speaker, and etc. I can always find ways to accomplish my objective.
You don’t need a career to carry out your mission. Writing is not my life purpose. I’m passionate about writing. But it’s just a medium that I use to express my life purpose. Even outside of my job, I can also help my friends and family be at peace and self-compassionate. Your life purpose is not restricted to the 9-5. It starts from the time you wake up.
And you shouldn’t restrict yourself to one mission. You can have multiple missions that serve your life purpose and they can be linked together. For example, my other mission is to provide quality education. I feel that when people learn more about themselves and have self-awareness, they will cause less harm to themselves and others. Thus, creating a more peaceful world.
Finding work that is meaningful in all aspects is almost impossible. There will be a few tasks that are required in your job that you might not want to do or find it boring and meaningless. But if you are connected to a strong mission, you don’t have to motivate yourself to do these tasks, you will naturally feel inclined to do them.
4. Start with passion. Sustain with compassion.
Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Life is not all about you. It’s about the people you have touched along the way.” If your life purpose is all about you and what you get, then that’s not it. Your life purpose is usually tied to something larger than you. It’s about your contribution to the world and other people.
You don’t derive any meaning from buying a new car, a new house, or earning a lot of money, especially not for INFJs. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have money of or live comfortably. If you do it only for self-interest, then, of course, it will leave you feeling empty. But if you tie it to a higher purpose, you will feel grateful to receive these gifts. Like for me, whenever I receive royalties from my books, I feel very loved and supported by my readers and the Universe. I feel that someone is taking care of me while I’m carrying out my mission.
Turn your passion and problem into a mission to help others.
INFJs love helping others. It gives us a sense of purpose. So finding a life purpose that helps people shouldn’t be that difficult at all. But if you need some help, here’s a couple of ways. You can start with either your passion or problem.
First, see how the things you are passionate about can be turned into mini-projects to help.others. For example, to me, writing is for self-expression and self-reflection first and foremost. But sharing my writing also allow me to help others. I love reading books and I read for my own personal growth. But reading also allows me to share the knowledge I learn via my writing. Plus, each year, I choose to donate an amount that is tied to the number of books I read to an education-related charity because it’s part of my mission to provide quality education. No one asks me to this, I just feel like paying it forward and linking my daily hobby to something larger than me.
Second, see how you can help others overcome the problem that you once faced or is still facing now. Often times, our life purpose come from the problems we have. I write about self-compassion because I once had low self-esteem. So I know how misery one could get when they can’t see their own self-worth. When you have compassion, you don’t want others to have the same negative experiences as you and this can become one of your missions in life.
Conclusion: What’s the Point of Living?
When the 16-year-old asks me what’s the point of living if we are going to die anyway. My reply is, “Before we go, wouldn’t it be nice to leave the world a better place than we first found it?”
I added, “I live my life as though I would be dead tomorrow. That’s why I write blog posts and books. Even if I leave the world, the writing stays.” People can benefit from my books even when I’m gone like how the books from the deceased authors had helped me. These authors are not physically here with us but their essence remains.
So what’s the point of living? Well, to be honest: There is no point of living.
Life has no meaning other than the one you create for yourself.
Dear INFJs, you have the freedom to choose whatever life purpose you want for yourself. It’s really up to you to give life meaning.
Featured Photo Credit: Kalen Emsley