Hunting and Pecking – the INFP Career Search

Chicken Pecking at ground

I took a typing class in high school.  No real burning desire to do it, but it looked interesting and I needed an elective junior year (this same thinking had me take a course in ancient Greek language in college).  We had those electronic typewriters where you could see a few words on a screen before they were typed onto the page.  For those of you a little lost by this concept, take a look at the screen on your printer – and make it much smaller.  Then plug a keyboard directly into your printer.  That’s pretty much it, save for the clack-clack of keys striking the page but you get the idea.

This is a Typewriter

Before I took the class, and since I was not a particularly attentive student for a while after, typing a paper would take hours.  Nosing around the keyboard to find the damn ‘q’, etc.  I am still scarred by capitalization and margin size.  At some point senior year, when the term paper requirements were ‘much longer’ I just could not handle it anymore.  I needed to deal with this.  I took out the old charts and notes from the typing class and sat at a typewriter in the basement for a couple of days and practiced.  And got frustrated.  And practiced some more.  And found any other possible diversion to avoid it.  And practiced some more.  And probably threw some paper around.  And practiced some more.  I still stink, but this article is typed and it did not take me an hour to type it, so I will view the whole affair as a success.

I have been a lawyer (yes, there are INFP lawyers – I think I saw the other one on the street yesterday) for about 15 years.  I started a career in the law out of fear since I didn’t know what else to do at the time, and since fear is an excellent motivator, I have managed to stay in it for a while.  Of course, I have not held the same job for more than 3-4 years max (sound familiar?).  Since my picture appears next to the Wikipedia entry on ‘procrastination’ it has taken me a little time to decide to figure out what I want.  Not figure it out mind you, just decide it’s time to put some real effort into the prospect.

Up until this point in my life, looking for an alternative career as a lawyer was just something interesting to do.  The Internet has saved mileage on my library card and I have about seven binders full of research and career ideas (btw, do you have any idea how complicated brewing beer can be – I actually have water charts on the pH levels in my area because it can affect the taste).  But there was no real need on my part.  Researching, printing and punching holes in paper made it feel like I was accomplishing something.  It took hours and hours.  There was passion for the process but no passion for completion.

Then I got married and had a child.  See, I am not happy as a lawyer and I refuse to be a husband and father who goes home each night after being unhappy for 10-12 hours a day.  I owe my daughter and my wife much more than that.  I am a parent by example and unhappy parents have unhappy children (kids are so damn intuitive).  I need to deal with this.  So, since one of the things I do everyday is write (we call it ‘drafting’) I have decided to pursue writing as an alternative career.  It seemed like the shortest jump I could find.  I am still not settled on the genre so I am trying a few.  But I am not scared – I am in action.  Writing this article is a step in that process.

But that’s not enough.  I still need to sit at that typewriter (that’s allegorical) and practice.  And get frustrated.  And practice some more.  That will be the work for me, sitting down and doing it, everyday for a few months.  Once I get to that point, habit should take over but I do not trust myself before that.

So, said succinctly, my path to moving past the hunting and pecking nature of my classical INFP career search was to remove myself from the equation – when it was not about me, I was not worried about choosing making the ‘wrong’ choice – or any choice at all.  If you are on your own, then pick a group, pick a person, pick someone (anyone) other than yourself and search for your happiness with them in mind.

Oh, and don’t forget to practice.

3 thoughts on “Hunting and Pecking – the INFP Career Search”

  1. Hi!
    Thank you for posting that. I finished law school for the same reason and get stuck in law-related job which is not my dream job, yet I can make a living from it.

    Instead of looking for another kind of work, I’ve started to do enjoyable things. Although I love painting and writing, I don’t have enough time for that. I found out I need to spend more time with people and joined public speaking club.

    I would never imagine to enjoy speaking in public, but it’s an incredible feeling, to tell wide audience about my thoughts and they actually enjoy listening.

    I’m also learning another languages. I don’t know if I ever use my new skills at work, but it improves my day-to-day life and makes me more happy. I try not to think how it can change me, because day-dreaming make me unhappy of who I am now.

    Now, instead of day-dreaming, I’m spending time on preparing my next speech or helping others to prepare theirs. I’m reading books and articles in foreign languages and try to understand another points of view.

    I think the clue is TO DO something, instead of only thinking.

  2. Hello Gimmicks view!

    Have been struggling with a mid-life (late 30’s) existential crisis and scouring google for answers…what ever happened to confession? Stumbling across your piece on INFP’s and totally related (being an INFP) and feel you have described the story of my life. Funnily enough I have found myself at exactly the same juncture, having begun a Social Work degree but finding myself sewing or dreaming of sewing in order to unwind and de-stress from the overwhelming sense of futility that studying social work, sociology and society brings out in me!!

    I have a brood of kids and social work is affecting my mental health and taking me away from them (mentally at the minute) and as I seem unable to make a decision for myself I have always used them as my guide post. Consequently, as I sew and draft, dream and create I find myself ignorantly happy and less stressed knowing I am here for them and doing something that is creative, practical and flexible.

    Not sure if I’ve quite made the leap to dropping my studies (took me alot to get here) but I really think you are onto something…to make our choices keeping in mind those who most need and value us!! Cheers Kate

  3. Thanks again for a great post Gimmick’s View!
    This is great advice for many of our INFP friends. A lot of this site’s visitors are in highschool and college trying to figure out what to do with themselves.

    As people who want to do everything and nothing all at once, it can be very easy to get self obsessed and get pulled off the right track when things get difficult. Our dream world looks so easy in our heads but when we actually try to bring those dreams and ideas into reality, a big, scary path appears ahead of us and that tends to demotivate us.

    When I had my son a year(ish) ago, the same thing happened to me. I started living for some else and stopped worrying about the little crap. I just started moving and pushing forward on everything I could, while trying to understand that I can’t do everything, I can only do one or two things really well. So I need to work on the path I’ve chosen and practice, practice, practice. As boring as that may sound. I think the key is finding something that’s enjoyable for you to practice. For you, it’s writing. For me, it’s making websites and particularly, helping people start businesses where a website is seen as an important marketing tool.

    I think the question of “what would you do if you only had one day to live” is important. And the phrase “live life to the fullest.” Because INFPs tend to think their lives away, rather than acting. So what can you do best and enjoy? Do it. Don’t look back and don’t doubt yourself. Just do it well. And most importantly, do what you want to do. Don’t get forced into being a lawyer if you’re a talented writer and you enjoy writing.

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