ENFPs & Idealists – My Awesome Career Advice

by Dan Johnston

ENFPs & Idealists – My Awesome Career Advice

“We have our perception of what the job will be and – the reality of what it’s ACTUALLY like.”

This may be the most important video I make this year about career and career advice for idealists types.

This is you if you are an ENFP, an INFP, an INFJ or an ENFJ personality type.

There’s a very important reason that this applies to all four of these types.

When we’re thinking about our career, and ultimately this even goes back to college major or university major, because that’s what is going to lead into your career, for many people I think there’s something that’s really, really important to realize:

We have our perception of what the job will be and maybe we have a list of careers: Lawyer, doctor, accountant – careers that we think would be a good fit for us –  and then you have the reality of what it’s actually like.

And it is extremely, extremely important for idealists to get clear on both sides of the equation here.

I remember when I was in high school I thought about being a lawyer and I loved that show “The Practice”.

It was a TV show back then where you have these lawyers and they’d always win the cases through some elaborate, really intelligent but kind of schemy way of just presenting their argument or having a witness turn at the end or whatever it was.

I was like: “Yeah, I’m really creative. I love problem solving. That would be great.”

As some of you may know, especially lawyers – the reality of being a lawyer is usually more like a glorified secretary, where you’re just proofreading documents all day essentially.

Now, of course, you work your way up and, of course, there are lawyers who do a lot more practice in trials. But a lot of the lawyers I know describe themselves as basically glorified secretaries and spent most of their days just reading and proofing documents each and every single day.

So if you’re an idealist type, I can pretty much guarantee three things are important for you for your career choice.

#1 – The Big Picture

You care about the big picture.

You don’t want to be working in the details.

You want to understand the purpose of what you’re doing and the overall big picture.

What’s your strategy?

What are we working towards?

What is the point of all this?

And to you that might seem crazy, like: Yeah, of course, why do you even need to say that?

But the truth is a lot of people don’t care.

A lot of people are like: “Hey, this is my job, I do my job. I don’t really care what the effect is on the world or anything else.”

And that leads me to my second point.

#2 – The Effect on The World

As an idealist, you probably care about your job’s effect on the world.

You’re not one of those people who can work for some evil company poisoning the water and say:

“Well, it’s my job. If I didn’t do it, someone else would do it.”

Because you may be smarter than that and you have a soul and so you don’t want to be working in an environment where maybe your current work isn’t murdering babies, but down the line of what you’re doing, some babies are being murdered and, ultimately, it’s your responsibility as well.

#3 – Harmony

The third thing is: You probably care about harmony.

You’d rather work in a peaceful environment where you get along with most people. You might be a little bit competitive, you might care about succeeding, but you’re not ultra competitive.

You don’t want to work in one of those environments where everyone’s trying to take down each other and strive for the top. Where there are 50 people competing for one job at the top and you’re all tearing each other apart.

That is appealing to some people.

Some people thrive in that competitive environment.

That’s not me.

And that’s probably not you as well.

The Reality of The Job

So keeping those three things in mind, you want to look at the reality of the type of work you’ll actually be doing.

The truth is that for many professions what you learn in school is probably going to be the most fun and the bigger picture stuff compared with the real world.

Let me give you an example.

I’ve heard this from multiple architects – ENFPs in the case of everyone I’ve heard this from – when they went to school, they loved design. They loved the thought of creating a whole building, designing a living space for people.

And when they got their architecture degree, that’s what they did.

When you’re in school, you design entire buildings or projects and you get to think big picture.

The reality, once they got into the work world, was little details, more like secretarial or intern type work, and just really unfulfilling and unsatisfying work.

In all these cases with people I’d spoken to, they wanted to change out or had already quit and changed out of that profession after, in some ways, wasting many years of their life studying it.

I don’t think it’s a total waste because they probably learned a lot about themselves and developed parts of their personality, but nonetheless, a big financial and time investment into something they ultimately didn’t want to do.

Now, why does this happen?

There are many reasons.

One is, of course, we tend to assume the best. We tend to glorify things so we think about being a lawyer, an architect or doctor and we think about the best parts of it and erhaps what we see in movies and TV.

The other thing is that the world in general is moving to bigger and bigger companies.

I bet if you go and work for some little architecture firm with two architects and two assistants, you’re going to be designing entire projects and you’re going to have more responsibility.

But if you want to go work for a firm with 100 people – yeah, that’s what happens. Basically, the fun stuff moves to the top and the not fun stuff moves down the pyramid.

And that’s the way the world, in general, is trending toward with bigger and bigger companies.

Let me give you a couple of other examples.

Think about coaching, which is essentially what I do.

I mean, there’s maybe more to what I do, but I consider myself a coach.

I work with people to help them create a more awesome life for themselves.

Coaching, I would like to think, is a noble profession and is something that is positive for the world, right?

This is something that would appeal to many idealist types, it’s a good career for a lot of idealist types.

The reality, though: Let’s say you want to become a coach, and you go work for someone that you see on the surface you idolize:

“Wow, this is a great coach. I’m going to go and we’re going to talk about how much we care about people and how we can make the world better.”

And then you get to it and you realize:

“Oh, this person spends 90% of their time on their internet marketing, figuring out how they can run Facebook ads to pack people into their seminars and they don’t really give a shit about helping people.”

That sucks, but could happen, right?

You could also find an amazing coach who really cares about the people and work with that person.

The reality is, you have different ways of approaching the same profession, and if you pick the wrong place to work, you’re going to get a very, very different experience than if you pick the right place to work.

The last example I’ll give is therapy.

Being a therapist is something that appeals to a lot of idealist types.

We think about, again, helping people, learning about psychology, learning about the brain, like: “Yeah, sign me up. That’s awesome!”

The reality is we can have that really awesome fulfilling work or you can be a therapist who gets stuck with insurance claims, dealing with government paperwork with roadblocks, dealing with clients who don’t really want to change or make any difference and are constantly frustrating you…

Or you could end up working in a larger organization that burdens you with paperwork and bureaucracy and takes away all the fun out of it.

While you want to learn and develop and become better and better, they really just care about how many patients you can bring per day and how much money you can put through the system.

What To Do To Pick The Right Career Path

It might feel like I’m becoming a debbie downer here. but that is not the point of this post.

The point of this post is to encourage and challenge you to dive deeper into an area before you pursue it.

If you’re thinking about your university or college major, why not go work or intern at some office or for someone?

Or at the very least do what are called informational interviews, where you just call up an architect, call them up or email them…If you’re young. I’m sure you don’t even know what a phone call is or email is, for that matter, so I guess tweet them or whatever and say:

“Hey, can I come by and bring you a cup of coffee? Or can we go for lunch? I’m a young student, I’m thinking about becoming an architect. Can I just ask you some questions about the profession and actually learn what the day to day is like, what do you actually do? Okay, you’re an architect. You build a building, but what is involved in that day to day? Is it sitting around doing LSD and dreaming about this incredible building? Or is it like doing little diagrams and filing paperwork with the local government. getting all this clearance and coordinating with engineers and things that may be fun for you or may not be fun for you?”

So figure out how the person spends 80% to 90% of their time.

That would be my main focus: How do you really spend your time?

That is going to give you a much better picture.

The other thing is: You might meet with three or four people, and I would encourage you to do this with three or four different people with the same profession and find out:

Hey, this company has a really hostile work environment, people seem to butt heads, they don’t really get along.

This company is really fun and people seem to enjoy themselves and they’re a lot more creative.

That will give you a chance to find the full range of people and also find a place that maybe, once you graduate, you want to actually work at and avoid the ones that would become quite a nightmare.

One of the really sad things is that a lot of professions that people invest heavily in, go to school, spend 4 to 7-8-9-10 years in and a lot of money to become – once you’re in, they also have this hierarchy that doesn’t allow you to bounce around that much.

If you become a lawyer, it’s fairly well known, if you want to work your way up to becoming a partner, you don’t bounce around firms too much, right?

You invest your time at one firm, so it doesn’t give you nearly as much wiggle room to be like:

Oh, I started at this firm. I don’t like these people. I’m going to switch.

It would probably be beneficial to put in more time early on to find the right place to work at because the right environment for you is going to be really, really important.

In the comments below I want to know:

Have you ever made a mistake picking a career or major where on the outside it looked appealing and then, once you got into it, it wasn’t so much?

Share your experience in the comments because you’ll help other people perhaps learn from you and avoid a similar mistake.

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