This Is the Kind of Work that Excites an INFJ…

I recently came across a line that arrested my attention:

INFJs “prefer to focus in great depth on one thing at a time, which can result in periods of single-mindedness.

It stopped me in my tracks and made me think about the kind of work I really love. And when I say “work I love,” I’m referring to the thinking and doing that bring me to life – researching, synthesizing, and creating – not necessarily what I do to pay the bills.

The thinking I love allows me to focus deeply on one thing at a time, as the quote suggests, and it’s usually project-based in nature. I’m guessing you also enjoy projects for the focus they afford you.

Check out these five reasons why project-based work fires an INFJ up.

What style of work makes an INFJ come alive? Why is a good project so great for your personality? Check out this post for the answers and more!

1. Projects call for research.

In the driver’s seat of our personality is a cognitive function, or mindset, known as introverted intuition (Ni). Ni is an information gathering mindset that seeks to understand the mysteries of the universe. It longs to know why and explore deeply, so this mindset leads us into constant, thorough research – especially of subjects that interest us. It’s why one of my five StrengthsFinder strengths is “learner.”

Every good project starts with research because you can’t create until you’ve gathered enough ideas and information to do the work right. A great project is research-driven and well-thought-out, and INFJs get a lot of joy out of digging in and understanding something new – especially when it relates to the arts and humanities.

2. Projects call for creativity.

Creative projects call for original, somewhat out-of-the-box thinking as well. To be a success, a creative project needs to be novel and interesting. Generating new, never-been-thought-of-before ideas is an INFJ strength too.

This is because Ni excels at making connections. And creativity boils down to making connections that no one else has made before – sometimes between seemingly unrelated ideas. When working on a project, INFJs transition seamlessly from research to connecting ideas.

3. Projects lead to flow.

What most people are looking for in their creative ventures and in their work, in general, is a state of flow where their minds are “firing on all cylinders.” They need the right balance of challenge and interest that leave them so caught up in the moment that they lose track of time. Projects do this for INFJs.

Projects in a quiet setting with plenty of time and space to think afford us the opportunity to solve problems, create, synthesize, and envision. We need the quiet because, although we love people, we’re introverts. Too much stimulation will drain us and send us into shut-down mode, but just the right amount leads us to a state of flow, where we’re loving what we’re doing. Again, the secret is to focus deeply on one thing at a time.

4. Projects provide autonomy.

When you’re working on a project, you can work with other people, or you can work by yourself. If what you’re working on is your own creative endeavor, not one a supervisor has assigned you, you can work on it…

  1. When you want…
  2. Where you want…
  3. How you want…

This is the ultimate trifecta. I didn’t realize how important these three things were to me – and a lot of INFJs – until recently.

When I do work, I want the freedom to control “the process and the product” as the authors of Do What You Are put it. I like to have complete creative control and to be able to make something that measures up to my standards. In too many other areas of life, external pressures force me to work in noisy environments with lots of people making subpar products, so when I get to work in quiet, by myself, making something I’m proud of, it’s a very satisfying thing. Can you say the same for yourself?

5. Projects lead to a sense of accomplishment.

Despite the fact that we INFJs are largely openminded learners, I can’t overlook the “J” at the end of our four-letter personality: We are, in the end, judgers who like to get stuff done, and we won’t be content sitting on creative ideas indefinitely. Unlike endless recurring tasks and chores, projects end. And when they do, we can see and enjoy the final product. We also get to check the project off as “complete.”

When I started this blog, wrote a book, and launched a podcast, those were big moments for me, ones I look back on with satisfaction and gratitude. Have you created or finished something you look back on with delight? Finished projects are milestones, confidence boosters, and motivators for the future. They’ll feed your INFJ heart.

What projects do you love to spend time on?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Jasmine Duff

    This is so spot on for me! I’m a blogger and when I write I can lose track of time and be in the library for hours. I do like to have creative control over the process and my product, wow! I feel like my eyes have been awakened lol. I love learning more about myself and the reasons why ☺️

    • Bo Miller

      Fantastic, Jasmine! That’s definitely been my experience too. What do you blog about? Can I check out your blog?

      • Jasmine Duff

        I have a faith based blog for Millennial women at http://www.season26.com. I blog about faith, family, feelings, and finances. I’m also in the process of starting a youtube channel. I’d love for you to check it out 🙂

        • Bo Miller

          Awesome, Jasmine! I enjoyed reading a couple of your posts. 🙂 You’re doing a good work indeed.

  • rethabile

    i love drawing and its the one thing that has the power to shut off my brain and immerse me totally until i look up and hours have past. i find that my mind is always so busy and i do not know how to stop noticing everything around me. a friend of mine laughed because i asked him about the tensile strength in different trees and how each has different abilities to withstand strong winds.

    • Bo Miller

      Yes! It’s so easy to get carried away in thought. It’s great to focus on one thing at one time for once. Drawing sounds like an excellent outlet for just that. 🙂 I love the question about trees! Thanks for sharing, Rethabile!

  • Arissa Thompson

    For schoolwork, I like to finish one subject per day, so that I finish the entire week’s work of that subject. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t quite allow that, so oftentimes I’m rushing to get something done because I waited until it was almost too late to do something. Thank you for posting this. I can very much relate.

    • Bo Miller

      That’s a great strategy, and it’s unfortunate that your syllabi don’t always accommodate it. It sounds like you’re time-blocking your week, which is an ultra-effective way of tackling assignments and projects. You can get a lot done without wasting time switching from task to task.

      You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing your experience, Arissa!

  • Margie Rayes

    Wow, thanks so much! This describes perfectly how my mind works. I was in the I.T. field many years which provided opportunities to use these abilities. I left that field and went into Accounting 4 years ago. So far, it hasn’t provided opportunities to use these abilities. I’m in between jobs now and desperate to find work that is suitable to my INFJ strengths.
    Seeing it all spelled out the way you have makes me feel validated and understood for the first time ever. Thanks.
    I’m so sick of working in noisy places where all they want is churning out garbage as fast as possible. Quantity over quality is foremost. I’m all about quality so it’s hard to find a good fit.
    Thanks again for the info.

    • Bo Miller

      Awesome, Margie! So glad that you could relate. I just talked to another INFJ today who said he’s doing a bit of accounting work. Someone asked him to do it because he is good at it, but it completely drains him.
      Keep pursuing work that fits you. It’s definitely out there. And thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Gina Jarasitis

    Hi Bo, this is all really good, I find these things to be true for me, too. It seems like projects should just be a positive thing when they go well, but oddly, I have mixed feelings about them. Here are some reasons why:

    I can get so drawn into projects that I might snap at anyone who wants my attention for something else, and that’s not normal for me. I can feel out of control.

    I tend to go too far with my projects, so instead of being able to share the things I do, my projects become a spectacle that other people can’t relate to.

    Also, I don’t feel like doing projects as you described is a choice for me; it’s the only way for me to live! That makes feel inflexible, and I’m sure other people see me that way at times!

    I don’t mean to sound negative. This is a very good topic. I think it strikes at the heart of one of the biggest challenges I face as an INFJ. It has given me some good food for thought.

    • Bo Miller

      Gina, I appreciate you outlining some of the downsides of projects. You make some great points.

      Too much time spent on anything can be a bad thing. We need to be careful to relate to people in other ways. That said, project-oriented work is an definite INFJ strength and one the world needs – even if it doesn’t understand how we can work in isolation for long periods.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and balancing this post out!

  • Thanks Bo, I see myself in your post totally. Nature projects – Batchelor of Forestry Science! Unfortunately never had the chance to become expert in the field as the Government kept disrupting the industry. I love projects and the When you want…Where you want…How you want… i’m in to IT now and always crave the wide open spaces; so live by the Ocean. My projects never really got completed as through this last generation of Neo Liberal experimentation the fields I’ve gone into have experienced complete disruption and i’m interested in so many things and fields of research in this information rich world I never get around to focus. IT is such a changing environment too. I love to research and so the never ending acceleration in change and development means the research never stops and the project never ends as the research uncovers a newer, better, flasher way to a infinitely distant end as I try to change the World that seems so asleep, headed down a narrow Rabbit Hole of productivity.

    • Bo Miller

      That’s awesome, Kea11! I love the outdoors.

      You were smart to have chosen a profession that keeps growing and gives you opportunities to learn continually. Good stuff! People need that perspective too – that life is more than productivity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • David McCamis

    So blatantly accurate! I follow this myself, very closely. I noted #4 especially. I love these posts and articles. They so help me to figure myself out…even at my age!

    • Bo Miller

      Awesome, David! Yes: Number 4 is definitely high my list too. Glad you’re enjoying the posts and finding them to be helpful!

  • Rolina Painter

    Hi Bo,

    Nice article. It rang true for me, thanks.

    I wonder if you might be able one day to put together a piece on INFJs sharing the gospel. I’m struck by how difficult it is for me to think about sharing Jesus’ great love with strangers, then loving them in the way Christ does. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. I don’t just mean living a value-centered life. All INFJs probably do. I mean the community life like in Acts. I feel so sad after all he’s done for me that I’m so allergic to the idea of missions. What do you think? RP

    • Bo Miller

      Hi, Rolina! Glad you were able to connect. 🙂

      I appreciate you asking this question. I’m purposefully choosing to write for a wider audience at this point, so I don’t plan to write any posts on the topic. I found the following books helpful:
      -Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism
      -I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus
      -Love Walked among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus

      I’d be happy to dialogue via email.

      • Rolina Painter

        Thanks for the recommendations! You seem to have read everything!

        Have a good one!

        • Bo Miller

          Haha! Not quite. 🙂 But I did enjoy those three books. You too!

  • Bo Miller

    Hi, Barb! You’re there’s definitely nothing wrong with you! You’re just an INFJ. 🙂 Glad you could connect.

  • Christine

    I kept nodding at each sentence! Couldn’t agree more with the combo of research + synthesize + create. This fuels everything I am good at + enjoy + love! I am in the middle of a career transition… having a hard time with clarity on one path vs. another. Do you have any specific blog posts of yours you’d recommend?

    As far as noise… now looking back, I left a work environment that played top 40 music while everyone was working / shouting across the room / answering the phones; it was exhausting.

    • Bo Miller

      So glad you could identify with the post, Christine! You might find this article helpful: https://ispeakpeople.com/infj-career/

      Also, I’m putting together a course on finding a satisfying career as INFJ. My goal is to have it out by December.

      Thanks for sharing!