Figuring Out What You Should Be Doing




I’m trying to figure out my Hedgehog Concept.

The Hedgehog Concept comes from Jim Collins’ book Good To Great. His book explains how good businesses become great businesses. However, his idea is exactly what INFPs need to achieve personal success.

The Hedgehog Concept

Our Hedgehog Concept is what we should be doing.

In the parable of the fox and hedgehog, the fox goes from one thing to another, trying new ways to try to catch the hedgehog. He attempts to catch the hedgehog with different tricks without success. Meanwhile, the hedgehog does the one thing that it excels at. It curls up into a ball, pointing all its quills outward. The hedgehog knows what it’s good at and sticks with it.

INFPs behave like foxes. We go from one shiny thing to the next. If we don’t succeed on our first try, we find another passion. We never become as successful as those who stick to their Hedgehog Concept.

Our Hedgehog Concept must meet three requirements:

1. something we’re passionate about
2. something that we can be great at
3. something that drives our happiness engine

Why passion alone isn’t enough

General career advice says we should do what we’re passionate about. This advice assumes that what we are currently passionate about today will continue to be what we’ll be passionate about tomorrow.

Life shows this to be untrue. INFPs change majors frequently. We graduate only to go back to school. We lose our passion after working in our field. We become disillusioned, disinterested or just bored and our passion wanes until we latch onto our next passion.

I’ve spent large parts of my life changing my mind. I latch onto a passion and set goals. At first, the goals are new and exciting. It’s all I think about. I forget to eat regularly. I fall asleep thinking about reaching my next goal. After a few months, I develop a comfortable routine. Then as I move closer, I start realizing that reaching my goals will not be as perfect as I imagined. That’s when I lose interest and begin looking for a new passion.

What it means to be great at something

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, a book about success, a study by psychologist Ander Ericsson that concludes that it requires an average of 10,000 hours to become an expert in any field. 10,000 hours is roughly 2-3 hours a day for 10 years.

The Beatles became experts playing in Hamburg. Where most bands got an hour or two of stage time periodically, the Beatles played 5-6 hour sets almost every night for 2 years. When the British Invasion came, they were the experts having performed 1200 times in front of a live audience.

Bill Gates had access to a terminal that connected to the local university computer at his school in the 60’s. He had daily access to program where most university professors didn’t have that type of access. Between the 8th grade and high school, Gates was programming 20-30 hours a week. So when the first personal computer arrived in 1975, he was an expert that could write an operating system for a personal computer.

The 10,000 Hour Rule has three important ingredients:

1. Ability

I’m never going to be a doctor. My brain doesn’t have the capacity to process and retain the sheer amount of information required for medical degree. We can’t all become Olympic athletes with just practice. There’s a level of genetics that determines athleticism and recovery time needed for Olympic level training.

However, most endeavors requires hard work over aptitude. Aptitude makes learning easier, but not having the aptitude doesn’t mean not having ability.

2. Opportunity

The Beatles had the opportunity to play in Hamburg when other bands did not. Bill Gates went to an exclusive school that had access to a computer. As children, Olympic athletes usually resided around training centers and schools run by former Olympians.

We need the opportunity to put in 10,000 hours and sometimes that’s not possible. It’s hard to become a concert pianist if you don’t have regular access to a piano. However, just because we don’t see opportunity currently in our life doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Opportunities are found if you know how to look.

3. Deliberate Practice

Deliberate means practicing in a way that stretches your skill, to purposely become better by the end than we were at the beginning of the practice.

Our natural tendencies keep INFPs from systematically practicing our art. We write, paint or play music when we feel like it, when we have an inspiration. Inspiration rarely overcomes expertise.

Stephen King wrote Rage and Blaze before Carrie, his 3rd novel written became his first novel published. Brandon Sanderson, a bestselling fantasy author, wrote 5 novels before he wrote the one that became his debut novel.

Inspiration doesn’t overcome the perspiration needed to master a skill.

An Update to 10,000 Hours

10,000 hours is an average.  Erickson’s research showed variations between much less than 10,000 hours to over 25,000 hours depending on the skill and the inborn aptitudes and advantages of the learner.

Deliberate practice doesn’t encompass smart practice.  Smart practice can greatly shorten the path to proficiency and mastery.  One of the methods of smart practice is adaptive learning.

Adaptive learning requires that you adjust your practice based on feedback from other in your field.  Most skills can be broken down to smaller subsets.  In the skill of photography, those subset skills are things like lighting, composition, posing your subject, etc.   You may have natural aptitude at some of those subset skills and not others.  Feedback from those with experience can help you focus on specific areas to practice.

Smart practice requires learning about skill hacking, ways to shorten and improve the ways the process of learning skills.  For example, the average retention rate from reading is about 10%.  You remember 10%, usually the big ideas and general overview of the book.  Practice averages 75% retention.  Teaching Others has an average retention rate of around 90%.    When I read a book with the intent of write a blog post about it, I take notes and try to figure out a way to simplify the ideas being presented.  Learn as if you have to teach it the next day is just one of many methods of skill hacking.

The Happiness Engine

What drives our happiness engine is the single factor that fuels our happiness. Examples of things that drive our happiness engines are:

  • helping others
  • recognition
  • learning
  • peak experiences
  • building relationships

My happiness engine runs on learning. Even when I’m learning something that I don’t like, don’t care to know and probably will never use again, I’m still happy during the process of learning it.

I like helping others, but sometimes I want a thank you. If helping others drove my happiness engine then never getting thanked wouldn’t matter. Learning is why I’ve been in computers for so long. The industry changes so quickly that there’s always more to learn.

Finding our happiness engine is difficult because lots of things make us happy. We have to comb through our past happy experiences (Si) to deduce the common factor (Ne) in those activities. My suggestion is to start by examining experiences where everything went wrong. Nothing happened as you expected, but you were still extremely happy in the end.

All or nothing

If what we do fits into only one or two categories, that activity will not be sustainable.

Passion and  Happiness Engine:   If we’re not good at it, we’ll stick with it until we decide that we want recognition. Recognition requires expertise which requires getting good at what you do.

Passion and Expertise:  This give us recognition in terms of monetary compensation. Passion gives us that competitive drive to be our best.  The top 20% in any given field make 80% of the money in that field. However, without the happiness engine then despite the high income, we end up feeling that we should be doing something else.

Happiness Engine and Expertise:  Without the passion, then we lose a sense of connection to what we do.  Being happy about what we do doesn’t mean we’re excited about what we do.  That’s when we start asking, is this all there is?

The Hedgehog Concept buffers us against failure. Failure is giving up on achieving a desired outcome.

Passion and expertise at doing something that drives our happiness makes us focus process instead of the outcome.  It’s the doing that makes us happy more than the result.   A good result is just the added bonus.

With all three, when we fail, we can try again more quickly. Our expertise tells us what we did wrong. Our passion will make us try again harder.  The happiness engine gives us a sense that we are doing the right thing which keeps our passion from waning.

The bad news

Finding your Hedgehog concept may take years. In Good To Great, Collins says that the great companies took 2-5 years to figure out their Hedgehog Concept.

In personal development, finding our Hedgehog Concept could take longer. It takes time to know what we can be good at. It takes time to obtain enough education to understand the money, resources, activities and ability needed to be an expert.

10,000 deliberate hours of smart learning isn’t easy for an INFP. I have 2000-5000 hours in many different things because I never stuck to one thing long enough.  I’m okay at lots of things but people aren’t going to pay me to do okay work for them.

In my 20’s, I thought natural aptitude would somehow circumvent the need for 10,000 hours. So I became a dilettante never deliberately practicing but only practicing on inspiration. I never became good enough to understand what it meant to be great. At 40, the 10,000 hours becomes a hurdle because I’ve already built a lifestyle that may not allow me to start over with a new brand new endeavor that I have no hours invested.

The Hedgehog Concept and INFPs

Using the Hedgehog Concepts solves two INFPs issues:

1. Too many possibilities (Ne)
2. We never seem to get great at anything (lack of Te development)

INFPs live in possibilities. We tell ourselves that we can do this and this and this, and if we have time left we’ll do this too. What we discover as we try to do everything is that we don’t have time. We have to pick and choose, but we don’t know where to start. Our Hedgehog Concept helps us narrow what we focus on.

INFPs tend not to stick with things when it stops feeling right. The Hedgehog Concept keeps us on things that drive our happiness engine. Our happiness engine aligns with our values and we get the sense that were doing the right thing.

As long as I’m learning something that I can be good at then I will stick with it. This could be writing or computer programming. I’ve been doing both for years. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I’m passionate about either. I just have a ton of hours into both.

I’ve been analyzing the skills that I’ve gained large amount expertise hours to see if any fit my Hedgehog Concept. The difficulty is that I might not see monetary compensation (i.e. I won’t be able to do it for a living) until I’ve put become an expert. In the meantime, I need to maintain a job, care for family and meet other obligations before I can deliberately practice each day.

Knowing the Hedgehog Concept helps. I stopped wondering why sometimes I like what I’m doing and sometimes I don’t. It’s because in some things I only have one or two parts and not all three. The Hedgehog Concept is the starting point for moving a life from good to great.


Revised: May 23, 2018

Reasoning: New research into 10,000K hours. Added the section: An Update to 10,000 Hours

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163 Responses to “Figuring Out What You Should Be Doing”

  1. Victoria

    Dec 16, 2010

    6:47 pm

    I’m 45 and still trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up”.


    Corin Reply:

    I feel like I’m running out of time to figure out what I want to be doing that’s more than what I’m doing now. So instead of rushing into whatever my next project is, I’m taking my time to figure out what’s next.


    Hans Reply:

    Another good article. I’m in the same situation, I only just left a job that was crushing my soul, and am now, despite my wife’s consternation, taking a break and really considering my options so that I don’t find myself caught in some life draining job’s tentacles again.

    I’ve wasted my whole life wafting from job to job, interest to interest. I honestly think INFP kids should be recognized early and taught this stuff, or taught to toughen up to cope in the World that is oblivious to daydreams or ideas about how things SHOULD be.


    Kelly Reply:

    Oh my God…get out of my head lol! I am in the exact same situation only I am female and my husband is not exasperated (yet). I quit to “write a book” (which I’ve got 110 pages in so far) but I seriously need some “Hedgehog Concept” myself! Great article!

    Kireen Reply:

    I agree about teaching kids. I felt miserable up until age 15 or so when I discovered there are different temperaments and it’s normal to be quiet and emotional. Then a few months back I found out about infps and 16 personality types. And only now at 23 I know that I need more personalized advice and approach and where to look for it. For a long long time it just felt like I was broken. And of course I don’t know what to do with my life either. So yeah… either mentors for all child infps or at least better psychology education in schools… =]

    Elena Reply:

    lol:) I’m 40 and still trying to figure it out, much to the chagrin of my ISTP husband! But seriously, it does cause me a lot of pain, feeling so adrift all the time.


    INFPtoo! Reply:

    You all resonate my thoughts!

    After playing lawyer for 3 years, I quit when I felt myself losing my mind over the crazy stress and unpleasant work-environment- not to mention the mind-numbingly boring agreements (with all due respect to the profession and the professionals). By the end of it, I was craving to do something different.

    Have been unemployed for a while now. But I would have to be facing imminent-starvation to want to go back to my job. The problem is I have not yet figured out what is the ‘something-different’ that I can do.

    Have looked at everything ranging from interior design, ESL, landscape architecture, editing, writing (I used to be good at it at high school but have not practised in a long time). Still exploring to find my one calling.

    And thank you for this blog; I enjoyed going through it.


    Midwest Mike Reply:

    I quit my job as an engineer after three years (for the same reasons) and became an ESL teacher in Korea. While there, I wrote a novel about a guy who quit his job as an engineer because it was so ridiculous. I’m now back in America and about 2.5 years into my second attempt at engineering… I’m planning to quit, again, and force myself to never go back. This article was inspiring. I will be the hedgehog and learn to make a living off of my hobbies! haha, life is so interesting, INFP is a gift.


    Rebecca Reply:

    I am 46, and have toiled also, with what I want to do. It is true, doing something just to make money or have a career has never been enough. Being a stay home mom has made me happy, but there has also been an emptiness.
    I will be graduating college next month. In so doing, I remembered a series of things from my past–planning my children’s birthdays, was elating! A friend always asking what did I enjoy besides the beach, told me one day “I know now, when you plan something and see it come to being, you’re at your happiest.” Among other tid-bits> I have discovered I LOVE planning, implementing, and executing! SO, my goal is to get settled in virtual office support, get experience, and grow into Event Planning!
    Keep exploring, you will all find your niche in the world! It is there, deep inside.


    Carolyn Reply:

    You sound like a Gemini, going from one passion to another. What if you’ve had the same interest all your life but always had to keep it on the back burner to please others or to make a decent wage?


  2. Jesse

    Dec 17, 2010

    2:59 pm

    I completely identify with this article. Thanks for giving me a better way to think about this issue. Recently, I’ve felt the need to narrow my focus in my career for a handful of the reasons that you specified. I can’t say that I feel more passionate yet about narrowing my focus (because I’m happy learning about pretty much anything as well), but am feeling compelled to try it out for a while. This seems like a key concept– to try in steps/phases and reevaluate.


  3. Beniy

    Dec 17, 2010

    6:34 pm

    Wow. Once again, you have hit the nail on the head. I face this problem in so many ways every day of my life. I’ve moved from music (trumpet to clarinet to french horn to guitar to tin whistle to banjo, ugh! ; ), to art, to woodworking, to metal working, to teaching, to writing; and of course, each time I move on to the next thing I don’t drop the other goals. I just keep adding up the pressure to do it all, and then do nothing but fiddle around until the current focus gets hard. Then I move on to the next interest, or back to an old one…etc, etc…

    I have gone through the process of figuring out the one thing, over and over. I would love to figure it out once and for all. But maybe that’s it. I keep thinking I need to find “the right” thing, as if there were only one right choice. I think that are many right choices, and it comes down to making a decision among many right choices. It’s a case of opportunity cost — I can’t do it all. I have to be willing to give up the other opportunities, if I am ever going to get the experience of becoming really good at one thing.

    That’s where I have difficulty. I don’t want to give up my other passions. But, I know I would benefit if I did and focused on one passion more exclusively.

    And, that also means facing down the challenge of those 10, 000 hours, and being patient. Seeing all three facets together helps me a lot. I think I need to paint a poster or something to help me remember.

    Thanks, Corin!


    Angele Reply:

    I taught yoga p.t. for 25 years but have to work full time in marketing to support myself. My first love has always been to take ballet classes and to excel in teaching yoga classes I would have to focus on that. Every once in awhile I search for yoga training classes but cannot find a yoga studio where I would want to do my training so tell myself that means I am not supposed to pursue it or a yoga class would appear and I would not have to keep searching for one. Does this make sense?


  4. Angela

    Dec 21, 2010

    7:15 am

    I’m actually in the midst of this perpetual struggle at the moment. There are so many things that I’m interested in but nothing that makes me feel overly passionate. I appreciate reading something like this, it can help me to gain a better perspective on focusing on something for the long-term rather than just the short-term of “when I feel like it” or when something is the most interesting and then switching to the next thing a week or so later. I do have multiple interests that even though I take breaks from them, I tend to go back to them at some point and re-consider their “rightness” so perhaps I’ll focus on one of those things.

    Right now I’m slowly putting my home dark room together so I can get back to working on my photography as I used to really enjoy it and spent many hours on it. I would have to agree; however, that most frequently what I enjoy is the act of learning something new itself.


    Corin Reply:

    Other things in my life fit my hedgehog concept, just not work. For example, raising my children. It’s something I’m passionate about. It’s something that I’ll put 10,000 hours into. And it fits my happiness of engine of learning because it’s constantly a learning experience.

    I’m simplifying my life and trying to get evaluate my activities to see if they fit my Hedgehog Concept. My objective is to make sure that the activities that fill my Six Critical Needs fits my Hedgehog Concept.


    Victoria Reply:

    I’m glad you mentioned conscious child-rearing; I do have one constant passion that I’ve stuck with for 25 years! Helping my five children grow into themselves has been a most fulfilling learning experience. I’ve grown and expanded myself along the way. In many ways, giving myself the nurturing and self-acceptance that I didn’t experience as a child.


  5. Michael

    Dec 23, 2010

    7:15 am

    A nice piece of work you wrote there Corin. I think this could work for me. Not only because of being an INFP, but I actually am studying International Business and Management.

    Interesting to connect to this concept I think is the vision you have on your own life after “X” amount of years. I would say 3-10 years when relating to the Hedgehog concept. “Where will I be in 5 years. Will I have children? Will I have my degree? Will I have a great love life, friendships, a great job?” I think the happiness engine is that vision. That which makes you happy is that what you want to work towards to. The driver of my happiness, and consequently of my success. As you can see I have a lot to do, as my vision is still VERY much materialistic!


  6. BB

    Dec 23, 2010

    10:12 am

    I was wondering if any people reading this site would like to set up and join a mastermind group via telephone. I am a businessman with many interests. I would enjoy talking with other infps that own businesses or are freelancers and battle the distraction of always looking over their shoulder to what they believe is a greener pasture instead of shipping as seth godin puts it


  7. pebbie

    Dec 23, 2010

    11:53 am

    thanks for listing me in the infp twitter list. as i was reading this post i was wondering why i didn’t found your blog sooner. it’s really helpful. thanks again


  8. Lauren

    Dec 26, 2010

    11:34 am

    This so fits me! And, like you, I love to learn. I would truly like the recognition that comes from writing and publishing, but, because of other issues that I’m resolving, I haven’t done anything in that area. I mostly stick to creating poetry for family. “Ability, Opportunity, and Deliberate Practice” have always been sticking point with me. I like the Hedgehog concept, too. When I’m just doing housework, if I don’t pin myself down(rather like a cloud sometimes) to what I’m doing, I tend to start doing other things. Like I said, now that I’ve resolved and continue resolving other issues, I find myself enjoying life as an INFP and exploring ways to bring my major passion-writing poetry and fantasy-to life. Thank you.
    Love and Light on a Prosperous New Year,


  9. Connie

    Dec 27, 2010

    9:52 pm

    What a great article, and one I relate to so well. I would love nothing more than to be a bestselling author, master visual artist, famous singer/musician/songwriter, to name a few, but guess I can’t do all of these in just one lifetime and be really really great. 🙂

    Thanks for reminding me of the hedgehog concept. I’m passionate about helping people through coaching and writing, so to be great I will buckle down and start stacking my 10,000 hours.


  10. Amanda

    Jan 2, 2011

    6:57 pm

    Corin…I am impressed that you’ve stuck with this blog for some time now. It’s self-reflection, which of course we INFPs are doing a lot of anyway…but in the structured, disciplined format of this blog. It seems that, as you’re becoming more and more aware of your nature, you’re attempting different ways of trying to work with it and grow yourself into more of who you wanta be.
    This is, to my mind, what we as humans are here for. To grow in awareness and selfhood. To grow spiritually and as human beings here for a brief time on earth. All in all, one way I look at it is….it’s an awesome opportunity for trying stuff out on this surprisingly interesting temporal plane. As I get older I’m mostly trying to do the best I can with day to day survival stuff while…
    1.trying out ways to have better/more fun experiences with other people
    2. attempting to be impeccable at my job (I haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s a goal…)
    3. reminding myself to be authentic– AND kind and compassionate
    4. keeping a sense of humor
    5. forgiving myself for being so far from “my ideal”
    6. accepting and appreciating ing other people
    ( even though THEY’RE so far from my ideal) 🙂

    My greatest challenge is to keep my focus even when I start to “go INFP” and get bored. Sometimes I just need to reinspire myself by talking with a creative thinking friend–or listening to passionate music or an inspiring podcast…Gotta just pump some life back into the passion-center to find the energy to keep racking up those experience hours…. Competence is its own reward, as long as we can keep re-invigorating the work with personal meaning…


  11. Amanda

    Jan 2, 2011

    7:02 pm

    Corin…I am impressed that you’ve stuck with this blog for some time now. It’s self-reflection, which of course we INFPs are doing a lot of anyway…but in the structured, disciplined format of this blog, it’s sticking to something you’re good at and adding onto your hours! It seems that, as you’re becoming more and more aware of your nature, you’re attempting different ways of trying to work with it and grow yourself into more of who you wanta be.

    This is, to my mind, what we as humans are here for. To grow in awareness and selfhood. To grow spiritually and as human beings here for a brief time on earth. All in all, one way I look at it is….it’s an awesome opportunity for trying stuff out on this surprisingly interesting temporal plane. As I get older I’m mostly trying to do the best I can with day to day survival stuff while…

    1.trying out ways to have better/more fun experiences with other people
    2. attempting to be impeccable at my job (I haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s a goal…)
    3. reminding myself to be authentic– AND kind and compassionate
    4. keeping a sense of humor
    5. forgiving myself for being so far from “my ideal”
    6. accepting and appreciating ng other people
    ( even though THEY’RE so far from my ideal) 🙂

    My greatest challenge is to keep my focus even when I start to “go INFP” and get bored. Sometimes I just need to reinspire myself by talking with a creative thinking friend–or listening to passionate music or an inspiring podcast…Gotta just pump some life back into the passion-center to find the energy to keep racking up those experience hours…. Competence is its own reward, as long as we can keep re-invigorating the work with personal meaning…

    Again–Thank you for sharing your reflections. You are helping to reinvigorate and reinspire many of us!


    Corin Reply:

    Writing this blog fills 3 of the 6 Critical Needs that I write about. It provides Growth, Uncertainty and Contribution. I have to learn new things to write about. I don’t know what I’m doing. And it’s nice helping people look at things in a different light.

    I’ve been doing self-help for 20 years and if I were as organized and disciplined as an ESTJ, everything I’ve learned would have gotten me much closer to my ideal than where I currently am. This blog is helping me sort out what is and isn’t working because of some of the more interesting behavior preferences our personality type exhibits. My hope is to do more of what is working and less of what isn’t working.

    Thank you for reading.


    Amanda Reply:

    Yeah but…if you were an ESTJ you’d have no interest in self-exploration. Everybody’s got their challenges. Meanwhile, it’s mostly great to be INFP!


    ECRM Reply:

    Well, as an ESTJ married to an INFP I’m feeling really motivated to explore why INFPs do what they do… It seems no one stays happy with their career for very long… Which for an ESTJ dependent on the INFP is pretty depressing… and frustrating…. 🙁

  12. Katrina

    Jan 3, 2011

    8:28 am

    I always have an aha moment everytime I read your blog, but this time, I seriously took it into consideration. That’s why, I’m now starting to accumulate 10,000 hours in writing, even if its far from what I’m supposed to be doing (I’m studying Accounting). Why I ended up in that field is another story, but because as an INFP I have the tendency to jump from one thing to another when I get bored or uninspired. I hope I can pull off this new little project of mine. Thanks Corin! It was just the perfect boost that I needed to pace up my game and do what I have always wanted 🙂


    Corin Reply:

    I think the most important thing about the 10,000 hours is you learn to spot opportunity in your area of expertise. It’s like rock climbing. To an expert, what may look like nothing to a novice is a firm hold that the expert can use to move upwards.


  13. Spring

    Jan 19, 2011

    3:14 pm

    I love your blog and the organization and quality of information is superb. It really does speak to the amount of work you put into it.
    My husband is an ENTP and he introduced me to the hedgehog concept years ago. He even came up with his own formula for finding satisfying work. Like all INFPs, I can’t stop seeing the possibilities in everything. Although, I tend to lean more toward the arts and humanities.
    I have probably accumulated close to 10,000 in art, especially graphic computer stuff. It’s hard for me to let the other stuff go, but the possibility of being able to focus my attention on something and get really good at it is also appealing. I will stay the course. Apparently, I’m going in the right direction. I think 🙂


    Corin Reply:

    I look back at all the years and I have 2,000-6000 hours in many different things, but then I see opportunities where I think that if I only had a few more years under my belt that opportunity would be perfect for me.

    There’s a saying that I love that goes: Overnight success takes 10 years.

    It takes 10 years to get those 10,000 hours. Everyone else sees a success who made the most of an opportunity, but they overlook the 10,000 hours it took for that person to have the skills to do something with that opportunity.


  14. Quiche Loraine

    Feb 7, 2011

    10:31 am

    I am a Graphic Design major for the first time at age 42, but have been an artist since I could first hold a pencil and went one year of college at a traditional art school. Before deciding what it was I wanted to major in, I was doing Open Source Graphic Design for the past three years, and so it seems that consistent interest in a particular field of study, a running theme, or the interest one inevitably returns to would be a good gauge as to what one would enjoy as a career. I turned down a few music scholarships (a violinist) to pursue art school. I am realistic in my expectations of the job. Obviously, most of the day to day projects on the job will be rather rote, but with that “cause-oriented” mentality, there is nothing that says I cannot do some freelance, even charitable design work to promote the causes that I support, and as a personal cause, I realize with my talent I can earn a good living and help support my talent. Being very perfectionistic, and taking what I do seriously, I approached my Open Source Graphic Design as if I were a highly paid professional, did design for free, gave myself design challenges and imaginary projects with deadlines, constantly “one upping” myself, and worked at being ever efficient at designing a vector or typeface, eliminating redundant steps, move through the indecisiveness, and wouldn’t allow for something to go unfinished, and “churned” them out, so to speak, as quickly as I could. Practice makes perfect thinking.

    Two things we have in our bag of tricks as INFPs that are to our benefit in a career path are that we are self motivated starters, and as Spring said, we can imagine the possibilities, ie., we can find meaning and purpose in things that most everyone else considers mundane. I have observed that the truly successful people, the most innovative, before-their-time greats simply did not care that other people considered their ideas crazy, impossible, much too innovative, or theoretical and believed wholeheartedly in what their purpose was and what they were doing and saw it through to the end. INFPs are capable of that, and I am sure we have all been perceived, since childhood as stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb weirdos (whether you were trying to be inconspicuous or not), daydreamers, “out there”, the oddball, rare personality (I wear it with pride), so since that is a give in, what is left or stopping us but ourselves? There are no wall flowers in the bunch (:

    I LOVE your blog! Low barriers to self-publication my a**, it is brilliantly written, full of interesting information and from a refreshingly uncommon perspective…I might be a tad biased, but your blog is a new favorite!


  15. Nick

    Feb 23, 2011

    10:49 am

    I think as INFPs we should go live in a small community somewhere. That way we get to get to fulfil many roles. The places where one person is the mayor, the firefighter, the soccer coach, etc….

    As for 10,000 hours theory its right that 10,000 hours can make a difference, but it does not make it a guaranteed success. The gate holders are the TJs of this world.
    Take for example acting write a list of actors who in your opinion have best acting ability, then take a look at the top ten grossing actors. Guess what they probably aren’t the same. You’re telling me that actors like Sylvester Stallone are better actors than someone who has put in 10,000 hours at the local dramatic society?
    From a sampling I did, one-third of actors are Jewish (the religion is not important in my example), so all these actors put in 10,000 hours to get their lucky break? Or is it just that the majority of producers, casting agents, and money behind the industry happens to be Jewish. Connections? What I’m really trying to say is that (commercially) rather than trying for 10,000 hours, try to find out how a industry really works (its more along the TJ-lines). Once you know that you will focus your energies better and realise that you may have to do things you are not comfortable with to succeed in a certain industry. Most businesses, at the end of the day, are risk-averse because they are run by risk-averse people.


    Corin Reply:

    I’ve always felt that being an actor and being a Hollywood actor are two different things. Sylvester Stallone struggled for years in the Hollywood system until he wrote Rocky, went door to door begging for a studio to pick it up and get it made. He put in his 10,000 hours in the Hollywood system. None of the local dramatic society actors have put in their 10,000 hours of going to thousands of auditions, taking bit parts for years in the Hollywood system. Also being an actor in Hollywood is different than being a star in Hollywood and comparing the highest paid actors in Hollywood with the highest paid stars in Hollywood is comparing apples to oranges.

    I didn’t say that putting 10,000 hours will give you a lucky break at the end. I said you need the 10,000 hours in order to make the most of a lucky break should you get one. In order to get that break, you should read my post on Rediscovering Our Luck.

    Also with the advent of distributed content via Internet, gatekeepers have a diminished role. You don’t have to find a publisher to actually publish a book. However, this means that all the work that was done by the gatekeepers now has to be done by the content creator. Of course, content creators are always saying they’re artists and not salespeople. Well, you can’t have it both ways.


  16. BC

    Mar 24, 2011

    3:15 pm

    I have been searching for my hedgehog concept for close to a year now (well actually for longer than that in a vague scattered sort of way but much more actively since being laid off last spring) and I keep going around in ever more frantic circles like a mouse in a drum as the benefit deadline approaches. I have stuck it out in mind-numbing nowhere jobs for long periods of time (twice for over ten years) where I was not suited for them at all but afraid to take the chance of leaving them to try to get the training to find something better and too run down to retain much while actively employed. Sometimes it would seem as if time just jumped ahead with a fuzzy routine being the only sign of it passing and nothing really to show for it (depression and stress contributed a lot to that as well as the nowhere job). While stress is still building I am pulling out of the fuzz finally and scrambling to find a direction and career path that does not lead back into the trap I was in for so long. Your article helped me focus and sort things out a little and put a name to what I am doing. Now I need to get collected enough to find a job that leads in the right direction.


  17. Oliver

    May 5, 2011

    1:34 am

    This might be JUST what I’m looking for! I saw your link on PerC in the ‘All jobs are dead end jobs’ topic and thought: “Hey this is cool! Never read a blog before but yeah!” XD I’ve just read this article and this confirms some naggling thoughts I’ve been having lately. I’m only 17 right now and just graduated from high school, taking a year off before going to study Graphic Design at university. But ever since a small child I’ve been in love with food and was thinking of being an apprentice chef, and THEN I took Psychology last year in high school and I found that really interesting too. These are the three main things that I’m trying to decide between and I’m worried the one I choose won’t be my ‘Hedgehog Concept’. I think I will really need to research more and ask about how those particular industries are going right now and y’know, what will happen in the future and what it means for me.

    Also after thinking about other things, I’ve noticed that throughout my life I ‘have’ been jumping around in my hobbies, never being an ‘expert’ in any. For example I play the guitar, but I never put in the dilligent practice and 10,000 hours required to become an expert at it, I only do it ‘when I feel like it’, and this leads to, well I don’t know, a form of stagnation in my ability as a guitarist.

    Yeah… indecisiveness is a real problem for me, and also this ‘trying to do everything’ err, concept, phenomenon? Anyways, yeah this just really explains a lot of things that have happened in my life and I’m really glad I discovered your blog today. 😀


    Sonya Reply:

    You are only 17. Most people change careers over their life time so I can’t see why you can’t do them all. You could become a Graphic Designer in your 20’s, a Chef in your 30’s and then a Psychologist in your 40’s.


  18. bitsticky

    May 23, 2011

    12:34 am

    I come here often as I feel like someone is writing whats I my head! Reading this blog is like reading myself on a piece of paper. I absolutely love the suggestions put forth by Corin and all the commentators. This hedgehog concept is very helpful and worth a try, but like Corin points out 10,000 is not easy for a INFP!

    I believe we need to do some soul searching using the hedgehog concept as the base and also try to get some input from the Holland’s Code (for cross verification). I’ve done a little soul-searching myself and have come out with a few ideas. Hope this helps my fellow INFPs out there.

    The search for the “right job” for “our type” of people never seems to end. I’ve tried my hand at I.T., medical transcription, sales…but nothing seems to hit the nail. Like someone here pointed out, sometimes it is more because of the surroundings and the people around me, that drive me to quit the job. I too have been fishing around for “the best job” for months now…all the while assimilating, processing, comparing the facts, re-experimenting (thank God for my engineering degree). To make a long story short, it seems like I’ve arrived at a few conclusions/opportunities for our kind of people. I thought it might you guys. Anyway, do let me know what you think about my ideas.

    I have a strong feeling that being a psychologist might be a better career for an INFP, as it offers an opportunity to deal with new people everyday. And we will have learned a set of result-oriented skills that can be used over and over again…without having to update frequently. Neither do we need to compete with someone else. The other side of this career is that we might be bogged down by all the caring we might need to provide. Counseling is one thing, but having to be a “shoulder to cry on” for months on end might really give us a nervous breakdown. We need to learn 2 things here if we’re going to stay in psychologist’s profession:

    1) Never get too emotionally involved with the client. We being known for our sympathetic ears are prone to identify and “over-care” for our clients way beyond the professional code.

    2) After the office hopurs, we need to find a way to let our hair down every once in a while, if not everyday. Maybe we need to learn to loosen a bit by hanging outdoors with our friends/spouse/stranger-at-the-bar, in short anyone who can put our minds off the clients problems. I specifically wrote “outdoors” (away from home), because I think hanging out indoors(home/ regular place of stay) could set in a certain kind of monotony and we are sure to catch ourselves thinking of the client’s problems. Being outside provides more information for your senses to process and make you want to share those feelings with your mate.

    Physician/ Family Doctor:
    Well, again you get to see different people…no need to frequently update your knowledge (unlike I.T. where you need to reinvent yourself with the latest technology every 6 months!) BTW, a physician gets a lot of attention/dates/respect. I personally know a few physicians who are not really that good at their profession, but just the word “doctor” seems to recreate an amicable self. But, this would be a job to enjoy and help…especially if you are qualified in the alternative therapy system of medicine.

    Now for the downside of being a physician. You need to be in your office every working day. Unless you really love this commitment, you can’t enjoy the job. Some of the INFPs I know don’t really like a 9-5 job whatever the job be! (more so if the job doesn’t let you out of the cubicle). You might sometimes have to work late, miss being with your spouse, kids, parties, friends, life-that-you-thought-you-could-enjoy. The process of turning into a physician is time consuming, requiring anywhere between 4-10 years of dedicated studies. If you are already in the 30-40 year age group, you might not really want to put in all the hard work, though you might really love the idea of seeing yourself in a helping profession.

    Yoga Teacher:
    While I could label the above as “Personal Trainer”, the reason I labelled it as “Yoga Trainer” is because yoga stands for a certain kind of intellectual and spiritual pursuit, that a gym-trainer job doesn’t provide you with. Do you know that not every yoga pose suits every person! And neither is yoga just a series of stretching/ therapeutic postures…these are just the by-products of your inner-development, your search for your true self. Now, I personally feel that this job appeals to my sense of work. I get to heal and guide people gracefully. Yoga doesn’t push or hurry people into a certain pose in a certain amount of days. Every ones constitution is different. While one day is all it takes for one to do a pose, a week isn’t sufficient for another! Again, you don’t need to sell something or compete with anyone here. All you are doing is helping them to find peace, harmony, and health, and if you are being paid for that, would it get any better?

    Now the downside. There is fierce competition already. Almost every street seems to have a yoga studio! And I believe the pay isn’t much. There are new yoga teachers hopping onto the bandwagon everyday, so you might find yourself replaced with a cuter and younger teacher in a few years! (unless you manage to carve a name for yourself who guarantees results enough to make the studio run on your name alone!)

    There are a few other ideas, but it seems like I have already written my best ideas. Let me give you two more ideas.

    Produce/Buy and sell your products online/offline.

    Internet Marketing:
    Copy writing, Affiliate Marketing, SEO, CPA, etc, kind -f jobs. You can choose to work either at an agency or set up your own home-business.

    Thanks for reading. Share your ideas and thoughts. Each of us INFPs have enough bad experiences in the corporate rat-race, and each of us is creative enough to think out of the box and find some adorable jobs. Lets pool our thoughts and ideas here and each of us can walk away with what appeals to our unique selves….remember though we all are INFPs, each of us have unique experiences in life and so are prone to take a liking for slightly different jobs…like if one starts to strive to a physician, yoga might appeal to the other, yet another finds his/her dreams come true through web marketing!


    April Reply:

    wow! i really enjoyed reading your blog and the comments of fellow INFPs. It’s feel so good knowing i am not alone with the same mentality. I used to think something must be wrong with my psyche, why I can’t decide what i want to do, and why i want to try almost everything. I discovered a year ago that I am an INFP but just last month that I dig and search about it. What I’ve discovered amazed me. Today I discovered that my primal astrology sign is a Hedgehog. Which I think leads me to this blog. The coincidence amazed me, tickles my mind while I was reading your blog about the story of the fox and hedgehogs i thought I was the hedgehogs but it turned out that I am the fox. Made me wonder Hedgehogs primal astrology often are INFP.
    We’ll like all of you I am in my forth year of my job as a procurement officer in a trading company. It’s bores me to hell. I always thought that if only I am not caught with responsibilities as a bread winner and single mom I don’t have to stay in this job that I don’t love. But hence I don’t have a choice. Well truth of the matter is I don’t know what else to do if I don’t have this job. I mean there are a lot of things to do that interest me at first. But I know myself, count a month or two and i won’t feel like doing it anymore. This blog of 10,000 hours made me think that I need to take this seriously. Obviously I cannot quite this job right now, but I least I can start to invest. However, I hope since this blog was written few years ago, I hope the 10,000 hour to mastery had been modified to a shorter time. Now I need to narrow down my option choices of careers to pursue. I hope procrastination won’t attacked me this time.


    Pam Reply:

    This is a nice comment 🙂

    I’m currently in college and I’m pre-med. I actually want to be a Family Doctor specifically. I think the idea of having people depend on me and need me is really appealing. I also love learning. However, I’m scared because I’m a huge procrastinator and I find it hard to focus for long periods of time… I have a thousand hobbies that I can’t seem to maintain while getting excellent grades… and I am not cut out for competitive things like getting into medical school and landing a great residency. Do you know any INFP doctors? If so, could you let me know what they’ve said about becoming doctors and how they did it, and whether they are satisfied? I actually want to live in a small community when I start working.



  19. Stacy

    May 28, 2011

    2:48 pm

    Stumbled upon your blog post via another blog. I enjoyed it and agree. Yet, like similar career articles/posts about INFPs and career, the advice tends to be focus on something and stick to it or put in the work rather than waiting for the inspiration. Isn’t that like saying “yes, you’re an INFP, but you need to be like a INFJ/INTJ to be successful”. In other words, go against your natural personality. Thoughts?


    Corin Reply:

    Here’s the thing with inspiration. It’s fickle. You don’t always have it. The great artist can create without inspiration.

    Most people want a career where they can actually make a living from it. Making a living requires creating enough value for another person to pay you to do what you love. In order to be able to create value, you need to be good at something. In order to be good at something, you need to put in your 10,000 hours. Inspiration does not produce ability to create value. Unless you have the knowledge and ability to create value and connect to those people who value what you create then who exactly will pay you to do what you want to do? Is inspiration automatically going to somehow magically connect you to people who would be willing to pay you for the stuff you create?

    And what does being INFP have to do only having the ability to create better when inspired? Everyone creates better when inspired. The ones who make a living at it can do it on purpose. And learning to create on purpose instead of waiting for inspiration requires learning to do it which requires sticking to something.

    I’ve read several books written by famous authors about writing. Basically, they say that if you’re waiting for inspiration in order to write then you’re not cut out to be a writer.


  20. bitsticky

    May 29, 2011

    12:46 am

    Yeah, I understand what it is to wait for inspiration!! Loving your job is good, but being paid for loving what you do is better. For me, it took years of drifting around jobs, times when I was throwing up into many things at once…only to end up with none. After reading this article on “Hedgehog Concept”, it just dawned on me what I did wrong all those years. Fortunately, I seem to be moving through my 10,000 hours in my life now. As for the “inspiration part”, I set aside 2 hours a day to dabble in whatever catches my fancy at that time. Over the years, I have observed that this pursuit never ends. We are constantly dreaming that that pursuit is the destiny of our lives…only to lose interest after a few months/ years. So, I’ve taken up a job that I love and set aside 2 hours for whatever that interests me. This seems to work for me, and I’m doing fine.


  21. Aelisha

    Jun 9, 2011

    8:54 pm

    I’m 20 years old, and I’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hrs to become an expert at something, but it never really dawned on me until now. I’m currently in college for film and I’m about to go into my third yr. I haven’t quite settled on what area of film most interests me despite pressure from my professor and my parents. I was very near falling in that trap of being inactive due to lack of inspiration and motivation; however, I am now realizing that in the end, I am only hurting myself. I believe it helps me to become motivated when I think about the way I will mentally torment myself if I don’t end up with that loft apartment, nice car, and financial freedom I’ve always daydreamed about (I’m only 20, I’m sure these priorities will shift as I age). No one can make me feel worse than I can make myself feel. I don’t want to meander from thing to thing my entire life. I want to be an expert at something, so I guess my 10,000 hrs begins now. Thank you for saving me from a fate that I know is far worse (to me) than forcing myself to push through a little lack of inspiration. I hope this works. I will keep reading your blog for support.


  22. Dano

    Jun 24, 2011

    4:21 pm

    Hi, Just wanted to say I enjoy your blog and why, your words read as though you might appreciate that. Finding the term and definition of INFP was much like the bulls-eye in the picture above. I mean wow! How liberating to be able to define and understand what makes you tick. Just knowing that it IS possible for someone else to actually get me let alone may even function much like me. Learning that other people like me actually exist! Like I said Wow! Focusing on INFP surfers is a good business model for a web site. We want to help you succeed nearly as much as you do.

    Part 2 (ok maybe 3)of why. Plain and simple honesty. It seems to me that you write what you actually believe. It comes through in your words and drives me to keep reading here rather than the next google result. So maybe you have found your quills. I do enjoy your writing. If you will allow me to continue writing to you as though we are long friends I would like to suggest you don’t allow perfection to hinder your editing too much. Jab out the words and don’t delete too many sentences you start writing. I often start an idea when I write without any clear direction to where I am going. That would result in a deleted thought and writing in a new direction. Recently I have begun to copy and paste my incomplete thoughts for later dissection and re-thought. Does wonders for my productivity and I can still write about that new thought that turns into an immediate short story. If it works for this INFP maybe it can serve you well. In any event Best of luck! Keep at it, that is my greatest challenge.


  23. Andrea

    Jun 30, 2011

    10:23 am

    I would like to see a breakdown of what occupations INFPs hold.
    I am a civil engineer.
    …And if you’re wondering why on earth an INFP would ever become a civil engineer, I’ll ask you – have you got a few hours? It’s a long story!!


    Luke Reply:

    I would like to see a breakdown of what occupations INFP’s hold, too.


    Sitka Reply:

    Please! That’s what I’m looking in to


  24. Heather

    Sep 21, 2011

    8:02 am

    Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog yesterday as I was reading about INFPs. And I really love what you’re writing about.

    I know this was posted a while back, but I just needed to respond because I’ve been thinking about the Hedgehog Concept. In true INFP fashion, I’d like to overanalyze why this struck a chord for me:

    I’m not sure that I agree entirely with your message about success and expertise. Yes, this could be because I’m protecting my ego from admitting failures, but also because I don’t know that everyone needs to be an expert at something. I haven’t read that particular Gladwell book, so I’m not about to dispute those ideas. But the concept that we could/should all be striving for expertise in some area, and committing 2-3 hours a day for 10 years? Ah! I have a strong aversion to this. Because, I do agree that INFPs will benefit from sticking with a goal, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be an expert at anything. And to equate success in life with expertise, and setting up an end goal like this, it’s very daunting for me! It sounds like a trap, and a recipe for more self loathing or sense of defeat.

    So, this topic of the Hedgehog Concept centers on commitment to goals, something the INFPs tend to be averse to. I think something to keep in mind is that our intuition, ability to read/relate to people and their struggles, this may be an inherent “expertise” of the INFP. Something we are born with and continue to hone over the years, for better or worse.

    Of course, I’d love to be an expert at something. I’m just worried that it’s not in my nature to strive for, or stick with, these 10,000 hours. I’ve become an expert at thinking myself into inaction and waiting for “the right time” to start something. I’ve had 10+ years at ballet, voice, acting. But I wouldn’t call myself an expert. I never had the drive or self discipline to be great.

    And another thought, when it comes to the INFPs desire for recognition: there seem to be many people who have been recognized for their contributions, without necessarily accruing 10,000 hours at their given talent. I’m thinking of vocalists and writers in particular. And what about psychologists who publish great research at the beginning of their careers? Maybe they’ve been honing some of those skills, but not necessarily doing formal psych research for 10+ years?

    Anyway, I’m writing too much. But just something to think about. Is it realistic for INFPs to have a Hedgehog Concept plan? Is it OK if we don’t? And simply try to accept our more holistic, expansive view of the world? I’d love to be great at the guitar, but I’d rather spend that 2-3 hrs time reading novels.

    Sorry if these thoughts are meandering. I like the way that you talk about the happiness engine. I like much of what you say here, but maybe my ego got in the way of my accepting this Hedgehog Concept. I suppose it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I found a passion and worked diligently. Now if I could only find what that might be! 🙂


    Corin Reply:

    For the most part I try to explain concepts and skimp on the methodology or the how. How do you figure out what you’re passionate about which is something I’m trying to figure out for myself now? How do you get 10,000 hours into something you want but don’t have the time or monetary resources? How do you figure out what really makes you have, what drives that engine of your happiness? Methodology is different for everyone so I try not to promote one over another.

    The other thing that we need to keep in mind is how we define success. When we define success, are we filtering (limiting what we consider success to protect ourselves) or projecting (defining success by scripts passed on by society, parents or peers). For some people, personal success is making a million dollars. For other success is just living in the moment and being happy with their life. Both of those require expertise because being present and living in the now isn’t something that people do naturally. It takes practice to the point where it’s natural. I don’t know very many people who are present naturally.

    It took time, just like it took time for all those “overnight” successes like J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Myers. We just don’t hear about the work. No one just sits down and writes best selling novel. People who write and publish have been doing it since they were a kid. Some people like Miley Cyrus have been singing before they could walk and natural talent accelerates the 10,000 process. Someone talented in a particular area may have a multiplier depending on their talent level, i.e. a x2 multiplier where for every 1 hour they spend, is equivalent to 2 hours spent by a normal person. Overnight success usually takes 5-10 years. The media only reports on the last 2.

    The Hedgehog concept is just one tool. Your Hedgehog Concept should be able to fulfill at least half of your 6 Critical Needs (another tool) which is why I write about personal development instead of baking. If it doesn’t then we have to re-evaluate our concept. I also think that the Hedgehog Concept has to be incorporated into you creative self-expression (another tool) so it’s not about doing more to get your 10,000 hours, but instead it becomes being more in order to get your 10,000 hours.

    Also, how you view the accrual of 10,000 hours is something that should be reflected upon. You see 10,000 hours as long-term goal setting and I don’t. When I write a post, I don’t think about some long-term goal of making this blog huge and monetizing it. My “goal” is to write concisely as possible while trying to convey very vague concepts. I write everyday, not because I set a goal to do it, but because it’s part of my creative self-expression, it’s part of who I am. When I do sit down to write every day, I’m being myself and not accomplishing a goal.

    Personally, I don’t think goal-based living works for INFPs. And I’ll be writing about intention based action vs goal based action. I find that intention based living, a more holistic view of living which fits me better then goal based living which only worked to a point and didn’t make me that happy once I went back to reflected on it.


    Angela Reply:


    Do you think it would be practical for every day people to apply the hedgehog concept to their personal lives? We cannot always make a living off of what we are passionate about.

    I appreciate your opinion.


    Corin Reply:

    It’s not about passion. It’s about all three. If you aren’t able to get your 10,000 hours in then you’re never going to be any good at what you’re passionate about. If you’re not any good at it then you won’t be able to monetize it.

    Making a living is often narrowly defined as getting a job, i.e. find some company to pay you for work you want to do. I define making a living as monetizing your skill sets. Money comes from other people. So in order to monetize, you have to use your skills sets to create value. If you create enough value, people will be willing to give you money in exchange for that value.

    Angela Reply:

    I agree, but is it practical to try and apply to a persons personal life?

    I’m trying to figure out how I can apply this to my home life (work aside); using the simplicity of the three circles. For example, how could a stay-at-home mom use these principles to make her life better?

    Thank you.

  25. Lauren

    Sep 21, 2011

    10:24 am

    “When I do sit down to write every day, I’m being myself and not accomplishing a goal.” Now this really resonates with me. Goal making has never felt “right” for me, writing has and I am now on my way to a writing career at the age of 54 after shedding a bunch of limiting beliefs and conditionings. I now respect myself and how I do things and find ways to support that self-concept instead of “trying to make” myself do what works for other people. It is so freeing to understand who I am and what I’m capable of doing based on my interests. The 10,000 hour thing could be freeing or feel like a trap. I’m currently on a quest to better my health, as well, and weighing myself once a week is part of my routine. I use this as a “tracker” to keep track of progress, not as a weapon to tear myself down for “failing.” The 10,000 concept reminds me of the 10,000 step program that came out of Japan. It’s great(if it works for you) to keep it mind rather than use it as a rigid framework.
    Love and Light,


  26. Jack

    Oct 4, 2011

    6:52 am

    Love your blog. Thanks heaps. To your point “I no longer worry about why sometimes I am into something and sometimes not”, I started logging my modes. Paint mode, or corporate mode, as I mostly swing from one to the other, and the modes last anywhere from 2 days to about 50 days, but for some reason I find it helpful logging the modes, and then enjoying the change. Especially when it changes to paint mode and everything looks magical and mysterious and wonderful again!


  27. Krishna

    Nov 12, 2011

    10:31 pm


    I really enjoyed reading your blog.The 5 stages article was spot on.
    I think your article on hedging was real good.I worked real hard to get into a business school and although it is not the ideal one.It is a good one.After i am in the school i realize that i will not be fit for the jobs that are high paying and that i aspire for( And also i am not in a prestigious school that will get me it is very tough for me to get one)now I am torn between thinking of becoming an entrepreneur in the long term(the choice here is unrealistic) and get a position (that align s with my goal) that will help me pay my loans slowly (But not high paying in the long run)
    Try my best to get a high paying position(realistic)

    what do you think



    Corin Reply:

    I recommend attending the the Millionaire Mind Intensive put on by Peak Potentials. If there’s one in your area, you can get free tickets. That will get you to rethink money and how to save it. Learning the psychology of how to save money is the most important step in personal finances.

    I also recommend reading Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki. That will get you to rethink how money and retirement work. I consider those two items essential in learning how money works in terms achieving financial freedom.

    Working because you have to should lead to not working unless you want to. What does it mean to be financially free? What does it mean to not have to work unless you want to? Unless you know the answers and the options to get to there either through a job or a through entrepreneurship then you’ll always be stuck working for money instead of figuring out how to make money work for you.

    Once you understand that you don’t have to work for the rest of your life and that financial freedom is viable then it’s no longer a choice between working for money and working at something you love.


  28. Eva

    Nov 14, 2011

    2:44 pm

    Reading all these is like reading myself! I’m lost in the ocean of possibilities and indecision. I majored in English Studies and work as an English teacher in my country but the money I make is little. My interests were always theoretical.. sociology, philosophy, poetry, writing, understanding humanity and expressing emotion. However now I come to realize that appart from the joy of learning and theorizing I’ll also have to pay the bills :/ So I’m considering switching careers into something more ‘practical’ like advertising, marketing, biotechnology or computational linguisitcs. There’s no relation whatsoever among those fields, I may be crazy for considering such diverse options and still not being passionate about any. Hopefully someday I’ll find something to ‘click’ and inspire me…


    Fouad Reply:

    I totally understand where you are coming from, I have studied many things in my life from IT, Import and Export, holistic herbalism to fashion design and garment making, currently I work in IT and the money is good but as you could imagine it’s very repetitive and requires very little imagination.

    the difficulty im facing now is I’ve built a certain life style around this salary and it will be very difficult for me to leave it all and start from scratch, what I decided to do in the meanwhile is augment my career, in that I do IT for the money but use that money elsewhere to improve and develop my hobbies through weekend courses and buying tools and equipment to learn more about stuff, and when the time is right and I feel I have enough experience and money to move out of IT I will take the leap, That way I keep my lifestyle and do what I enjoy at the same time, it’s not perfect, but it’s balanced.


  29. JR

    Feb 19, 2012

    4:32 am

    I love the great input and comments for INFP’s. I guess that I am lucky to have 10k hours in the retail golf business. This allows me to work on entrepreneurship and new products ideas on the side. I am patenting products, working on prototypes, and plan on selling them in the future. I also have a future plan of turning my list of ideas into a design business. I feel the same pressures of not being as successful or financially appreciated as my friends, but would not trade in my ability to be creative. Good luck and have a great 2012!


  30. Luu Kim

    Mar 17, 2012

    10:00 pm

    I think that you have a good point about INFP. When I discovered I am INFP, I also discovered INFP’s weakness and my own weakness too. I found out that life is not always like we imagined, the only way is to learn how to accept the circumstances instead of blaming ourselves. When I learnt that lesson, I started to be calmer.

    I used my (Te) to analyze myself based on facts. Then, I found out that which majors I like best, what kind of person I want to be in the future, or in the next 5 years, which one I should concetrate. You cannot learn everything because you are not God. No one forces you to be perfect, and you don’t need to force yourself to be more perfect. And then, I stop to wander around, I focuss on my major, but also expand my interest by learning new things.

    I noticed that when I stop to be perfect, I began to be a ‘perfect’ person. It is quite true. According to Budhism, it said that when you stop thinking you are like that, you became like that. Budhism save my life alot. I learn alot about how to balance my value with reality. Now, I think life is the combination between of inspiration and perspiration. The problem is how much you understand yourself clearly.

    Being INFP is not like closing the door and living on our own world. Being INFP means accept ourselves and using our abilities to fit to this world.

    I still stuck with my perfectionism sometimes, I still stuck with my relationship, my lonliness and those traits of INFP. But everybody can learn from their lesson to be more mature and happier and so do I. I learn how to create my weakness into my strong point. I choose to be stronger, independent, and sympathetic.

    Many people say that INFP can hardly be a leader. But I can and I do well, people say to me that I am reliable, they feel safe to be with me. Even thought there are other ones don’t like me at all. It is okay, I learnt that it is life at all so I don’t need to torture myself about that.

    A lot of people mistook INFP as a weak and emotional personality, but everybody around me always comment about me like: strong, independent, leader, brave, confident,etc….. but they also realize that how warm and gentle I am, how stuborn I am, how consistent I am. It is the result of practising and meditating. I learnt that keeping your INFP’s strong point and learnt about some tricks and skills can make you be more happier and be recognized by people.

    Nobody can be perfect, but they can choose to learn to improve themselves. That is why your advices are helpfull. I recommend that INFp should follow and practise instead of commenting that “yeah, I have a lot of problems there and here,etc…”

    PS: an interesting thing that I found out about INFP is INFP is good at pointing out the problem, but they never put it into action, or try to solve it… Actually, I found out that people always admire you when you can solve the problem more than pointing them out. Even thought recognize the problem is the first and important step, but you have to finish the final step: solving problem too. Solving problem needs you to be patient alot. Sometimes it took us a lot of time to do it many times, again and again. Those traits seems not working for INFP since INFP can’t stand the routine.


    J Reply:

    Well written Luu Kim.. I agree.. Meditation is especially beneficial for us INFP’s, as it gives our mind a break from the constant ‘chatter’ and flow of ideas.. I’ve often found I have many of my best insights and fresh ideas following meditation.. The inner stillness I feel post-meditation also helps me tune into my intuition and thus gives me greater clarity when making decisions.

    (For those interested in learning about meditation, I recommend having a listen to listen to Alan Watts’ – Still the Mind). His teachings have been invaluable for me personally, and I think of him as one of the most gifted philosophical speakers of his time.. He was a student of Japanese Buddhism, and an ENFP! 😉

    Moreover, It’s both refreshing and humbling to hear about all the similar traits and life experiences of other INFP’s. We always seem to be in a constant state of change.. much like the tides, the rivers, and the universe itself. It can be extremely frustrating and at times painfully so, when indecision gets the better of you.

    Luu Kim.. I was wondering if you might be able to share some of the strategies you used for improving/developing your inferior extraverted thinking (Te)? I find that developing the tertiary and inferior functions brings me personal balance and I’m always on the lookout for practical ways to do this.

    Stay brave 😀


  31. Doris

    May 11, 2012

    9:30 am

    Well for me the knowledge about the hedgehog concept doesn’t change a thing. So what, I’ve just found out I’m undecided about my future and it’s wrong and I should change it ASAP. That part I know. The article tries to offer some kind of help to figure things out but I’m exactly as stupid as I was in the beginning, but now I blame myself for not being a smart hedgehog (like I was really responsible for that). Sorry, I’m not a hedgehog. And I still have no idea how to be one. And I’ve met too many people in my live criticizing me for being a fox, when I can’t help it. So instead of being forced again to grow up, make a career and limit myself to one thing I would like to read more stuff about HOW TO SURVIVE AS A FOX, how to best with what we have, how to gain experience and not waste time while being a fox, because we can’t really became hedgehog in a minute just because we want it. So, for example, I suggest: 1) Believe that it’s all right to change your mind, it’s natural for you to have so many interests. 2) Instead of quitting courses the minute you found out “it’s not you”, because you feel like you’re wasting time not going after your goal, you should finish it and use the knowledge to develop yourself further. For example, you were interested in flamenco, then in irish dance, then in pole dancing, then God knows what is your ideal dancing style. It’s better to learn some flamenco and learn some classic dance then finally find your style, than quitting everything before you actually learn something and still not finding your style. 3) Try everything you dream of doing, because later you may regret not trying and feel like you’ve wasted years. There are different ways of trying, you may not be aware of that, but there are. Instead of switching your education you may be a just a free listener, even before being officially a student there. There’s always talking to people, watching them work. And there are many projects for young people to do something amazing, like spend time with animals. INFPs often forgot about these options. Find them out and do a little bit of what you want, it will really help you to find your thing. So, I can’t think of more stuff right now, but it’s just an example.


  32. Maeve

    Jun 15, 2012

    9:47 am

    Talk about synchronicity! I’m at a juncture in my life where I have to decide what to do next in terms of purpose and making a living. I’ve started doing all this work on identifying my passions, strongpoints, talents etc and have run into exactly this issue: I can’t commit to one direction because I feel like I’d be missing out on everything else. Everything others wrote on this blog covers my feelings on this.

    And p.s. I already have Good to Great and haven’t read it yet. Here’s my opportunity.

    Scanning the comments here, I wonder if one approach is to always stick to learning mode and that will help us decide what we want to commit to. I’m the same as others, when I’m learning, I’m happy.


  33. Maeve

    Jun 15, 2012

    10:08 am

    BTW–I already have accumulated 10,000 hours in a skill: writing. I’ve done it professionally and as a personal goal for over 10 years…but now I want to determine how to make a steady income from it (i.e. not always be chasing after the next client/project). Also to be writing about something that’s of intrinsic value. I feel like I’ve done a lot of light weight mundane writing for businesses.

    The more meaningful writing (fiction, journalism, encyclopedia articles) hasn’t quite added up to 10,000 hours respectively. But since I’ve come this far, I guess this answers my question of whether to continue this career path.

    Any other INFPs get excited by entreprenurial endeavors? That’s precisely where I start running after the next shiny thing (which takes me off the writing track).


    Corin Reply:

    You have this skill that you do make money at but at this time you’re just not making reliable income from it. So for you it’s not about getting better at writing. The question that you need to answer is this: how do I monetize my writing skill so it produces passive, reliable income in a way that fits my values, excites me and have fun in the process?

    My first suggestion is start a blog and start writing about something captivates your imagination and gets you jazzed. Don’t do it with the goal of monetizing because that never works out. Focus on how can I use my writing as a way to add value to someone else’s life. If you focus on that, it will keep you from getting disenchanted about something that you clearly love doing otherwise you would have given up before your 10,000 hours.

    It seems like you’re trying to find more Significance in a profession. As for continuing this career path, you can use a technique called Zero-Based Thinking. Basically, it’s answering this question: knowing what you know now about your chosen career, would you have gotten into this in the first place. If the answer is yes, and there’s something about writing that just a part of you at this point you’re not quite getting the results you want then of course, continue and figure out how to get better results.

    If the answer is an empathic no and that you think you should have never started in the first place then the answer is to get out as quickly and gracefully as possible. Zero-based thinking also works great for relationships and whether you should finish off the cheesecake.


    Maeve Reply:

    Corin–you have given me some significant things to think about. I’m always looking for the big idea that will allow for passive income. As for keeping a blog on something that jazzes me up: time to apply the Hedgehog principle…cuz once again–too many darn choices. lol!

    As for zero-based thinking, I need to think on this. Would I have pursued writing? Yes. Would I have pursued the same path of writing? ummmmm….yes, but sticking with the journalism side of things and being smarter about making connections to obtain a decent income. I switched to business writing/copywriting because it seemed like a practical career choice.

    You’ve given me good food for thought. Thank you. Much to think about!


  34. MMoz

    Jul 13, 2012

    10:10 pm

    Thanks for the blog article and for sharing your often illuminating thoughts. I was a bit depressed as my black belt in martial arts came after only 300 hours..

    Not to beat my own drum though I did a PhD and it took 10,010 hours in 3.5 years full time study and so I can validate that rule. Just a warning though to make sure those 10,000 hours have a clear direction from the start, I did a subject because I was good at it and interested in it. However, I had a dream of being in a certain place after completing the PhD (I was told it would get me there and would ge a decent job there etc), but sadly it never worked out (even after 7 years later..). So I’m considering to go to that place anyway (a king of f*** it attitude) and do a low-level job I could have done without the PhD in the first place (this dream of mine persists). When i graduated there was very little info out there and no blogs/forums that allow information to be passed around so easily so i took the plunge with the phd, I was amazingly dedicated and organised although I had to force myself really, became like a machine really and hated it TBH… Wish I’d just done 10,000 hours in martial arts instead 🙂


  35. Erik

    Jul 26, 2012

    9:40 am

    Thank you for compiling all of this INFP info!! I finally feel understood!


  36. Sidney

    Jul 30, 2012

    6:28 pm

    I have just discovered at the age of 47 that I am a INFP, at a job search course no less, and your article and everything in my life now makes perfect, horrible sense. A few nights ago I had a dream about being bitten by a fox, one of those clear, vivid dreams that you just know is your subconcious trying to tell you something. Alas, I’m beginning to get the picture. I’ve searched long and hard for that perfect career, the one achieved by following your bliss, and have always been frustrated because although my interests are many and varied, my passions are brief and insubstantial. I think it may be getting a little late in the day for my Hedgehog concept, but thank you for your words. At least any career decisions I make in the near future will be made with a substantially more self awareness and knowledge aforethought. Cheers!


  37. JRJ

    Aug 3, 2012

    5:31 pm

    Hello INFP’ers!

    Wow I wish there was an INFP meetup where we could connect in person & share learnings like this from eachother. I’m so glad I stumbled on this site. I am a true INFP (found out around age 20 or so) Problem is, 15 years later, I still haven’t been able to wrangle my gifts, figure out my strengths or make a decision on what to do with my life! It’s killin’ me!!!

    I’d like to reach out for feedback: I’ve been in a debilitating “Depression” phase for 10 years. While I have a good job (in a flexible, relaxed, creative environment in a great city) the role is entry level with no place to move up to, I’ve learned everything to the job. My BA degree was in Psychology (had always thought I’d go to grad school for this) I ended up falling into Recruiting/HR & have been stuck, bored in it ever since (not into the office/routine admin stuff, and i’m not super into the cold calling/sales-ish aspect)

    In the last 10 years, I’ve seriously explored/researched the following:
    – Psychologist/Counseling (afraid of the unpaid hours for licensing, and don’t want to work with drug/alcohol/homeless pop where all the jobs are, plus 4 year school program which costs 60k+, worried I’d get burnt out or not be good at it)
    – Acupuncturist (not sure if I could cut it academically-lots of science classes, or if i’d enjoy the actual work, plus 4 year school program which costs 60k+)
    – Holistic nutritionist (I don’t think i could run my own business, competitive & I don’t cook)
    – Travel writer (This would be a dream! No experience/skills, very competitive field, few jobs)

    Other things I am passionate about:
    – Dance & dance classes (10 years of ballet when i was younger)
    – Music (play piano, but not a composer)
    – Travel
    – Reading/researching
    – Holistic health/Wellness/Alternative medicine

    I am pretty shy, but I don’t see myself having a practice by myself & being alone all day. I also don’t want to work in front of a computer doing admin tasks, phone calls all day either. I am having trouble planning what steps to take: I’ve taken classes in different above subjects, even applied to grad school for counseling (and deferred bc i got scared of the financial commitment) I’m afraid of going to grad school & then finding that I don’t like the career & not having the $$ means to go back to school or try something else. My options will be limited when I make a choice. I don’t know how else I can get my feet wet & better understand what I’d be good at, passionate about & realistically able to achieve/sustain.

    I am LOST!! I’m at the point where I’m filled with anxiety about making a commitment that I’m unsure about, so I just stay paralyzed and unhappy. I’ve been in therapy for the last decade. I’ve been meeting other people that have successful, meaningful,creative careers that they started pursuing in high school or college and I feel like there is no way I can catch up or make a career change mid-life. I’m not married, no kids, so I feel intense pressure to get my life together.

    Any advice, feedback suggestions of what to do extremely appreciated!! I feel like life is passing me by and I want to make a CHANGE. I am approaching 40 and scared to death of being alone, no family, no career/meaningful vocation and feeling hopeless.


    maemuki Reply:

    Mid 40’s and 2 years back I walked the 1200km henro pilgrimage in Autumn. It was an ideal reflective odyssey that gave me a supportive environment to reflect on life and where I wanted to take my life..when I returned I found myself being a lot more authentic about who I am…this was life changing, as it has meant I started looking at the world through less lenses, and the scripts of people and society around me. With more centred clarity around my way of being, different opportunities arose, choices became visible that I may not have seen before. The ocean of my journey still gets choppy from time to time, and I still have to pass through storms, but my “boat” stays up on the waves….being comfortable in my own skin is all that’s important…everything else will follow. All the best 🙂


  38. Daniel

    Sep 25, 2012

    11:16 pm

    I’m 23 years old and recently graduated from college with a communications degree. I chose this degree by default, based off of a lack of interest in any other major, although I’ve always had a aptitude for drawing and creative arts. For the past 4 or 5 years I’ve become conscious of my lack of discipline, and how I only choose to practice my talents when I feel inspired to. This has caused me to constanlty beat myself up after aimlessly trying force myself to draw or learn adobe suite software out of a need to feel productive. Needless to say this has caused me much frustration and maybe even depression at some points. I recently discovered my INFP preference, and it’s a breathe of fresh air to see that there are other people in the world that feel and struggle with the same things that I do, and I am thankful for the direction that comes as a result of it. The hedgehog concept sounds tough to me, (especially the deliberate pratice part) but it’s a dose of realism that is very much needed in my life. I’m going to take my time and figure out what I’m passionate about and talented at, and aim my focus there.


    Corin Reply:

    Follow your curiosity. Finding a career is like finding a girlfriend. You’re not passionate about a girl right away. You don’t go, I’m passionate about this girl so I’ll start dating her. You start dating her because you’re curious and then it’s only after you find out more do you develop a passion.

    Careers are the same way. Follow what you’re curious about. Stay out of debt. And hopefully that curiosity turns into something that you would want to put 10,000 hours into.


  39. rory

    Sep 27, 2012

    2:43 pm

    awesome job ! pulling together all the main concepts that are relevant to this.
    again, too soon old and too late smart.
    will drop in the harness, doing what i know.
    heres to having the upcoming gen have a better chance at life.
    peace and blessings…


  40. Syi

    Oct 5, 2012

    11:29 pm

    I LOVE your blog! Almost every article really resonates with me. I’m at a point in my life where I have finally realized that listening to what everyone else said I should do with my life was a baaaaad idea.
    Of course, getting a nursing degree is a perfectly logical way to secure a good job and make money, but now all I want to do is make enough money to pay off my student loans so I can finally quit working as a nurse, to pay off my student loans… 🙁 Working for someone else depresses me and even though 40 hours a week doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, I feel like it takes over my whole life.
    I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I’m passionate about and what makes me happy, but I just don’t know if I can make a living at it. I feel like I will always lack in the “connections” department, and that will hold me back from making a living as an artist, because of my lack of people skills. And also, I struggle to find time to actually practice my crafts when you factor in cooking/cleaning/errands/sleeping etc. all of which my husband doesn’t really have time to help me with right now, because he’s starting a business.
    I just feel so stuck now. I desperately want to be able to do something significant to contribute to getting us out of debt, but I feel totally incapable. I can barely stand working an average job for goodness sake! I feel like if I was just someone different I’d be able to start a successful business and make money while being happy and not having to work for someone else. Just seems like I don’t have a business mind or something…I have lots of good ideas but even with help, I just can’t fathom how to put them into action.
    My husband is an INTJ so he is great at stuff like that; I feel like I’m just the exact opposite.
    The “hedgehog concept” thing makes a lot of sense. I have tons of random talents, but am not great any ANYTHING. I can almost predict how long I’ll be able to stick to one thing before the next thing I want to learn catches my eye, no matter how many times I tell myself “this is it, for sure, this time!!!”……..


    Corin Reply:

    I see people as having two orientations: lifestyle-oriented and workstyle-oriented. I’m a lifestyle-oriented personality. This means that most of the things that I truly value aren’t found from working, but instead are found during the rest of my hours. I think lots of INFPs are lifestyle-oriented where fulfillment comes from outside of the workplace. Placing high value on personal relationships, travel, freetime are all signs of lifestyle-orientation.

    The problem is much of society and raising children is focused on Work Style Design and not Life Style Design. Work Style Design is where you try to figure out a job that will give us fulfillment and then we design our life around work. Life Style Design is where we figure out how we want to live and work is there to fund and support our life style. In Work Style Design, we learn attempt to learn new skills for work and we spend our free time learning and taking classes to improve those skills in order to get promoted or raises. In Life Style design, we figure out what skills we need to learn to make our lives better or more interesting, and we attempt to find work that will pay us to learn and practice those skills.

    Unless working is how you find fulfillment, then continuing to find the right career is futile. Work is not how I find fulfillment and that’s why I got bored with a job after a couple of years. The reason why I’ve been programming at my current job for 7 years and doing web development for 16 is that it furthers the lifestyle I want to live. Someone currently is paying me to practice skills that I’ve use to connect to people, helped friends in a meaningful way and so much more.

    Consider focusing on Life Style Design. Figure out the life you want, what skills you would need to have in order to live that life. Then figure out what kind of work you would need to do in order to learn those skills.


    Luke Reply:

    I’m 32, single, no debt (not much savings left either), with a college degree.

    That’s interesting that you mention pursuing a Life Style Design instead of a Work Style Design. I thought of myself, and those who identify as INFP’s as Work Style Design. My heroes were types like Steve Jobs, Miyamoto Shigeru, or Albert Einstein. All people who had Work Style Design – maybe that is why they are famous?

    My aunt, who is a nurse with no kids, and someone I respect, talks of her work as being “enough to live comfortably,” and I always thought I wasn’t like that. I quit my job in January 2011 and I’ve spent 22 months reading, traveling and thinking about what I could do that fit (passion x mastery x economic) and the result is I believe:
    1) most people just fell into their career
    2) most of the famous people started out early asking the big questions
    3) maybe Life Style Design isn’t so bad after all

    P.S. I might be misstating a lot of the above, but oh well


    tess Reply:


    I have observed what you have stated as well. Most of the people that pursued a job, didn’t land where they wanted and have struggled trying to achieve that dream position, whereas the ones that “fell” into a career, seem to be happy in that destiny. What I have noticed is that those that got there serendipitiously for lack of a better term, are satisfied. I will add that those that were required to continue the family biz, never were interested and yet monetarily it would have reaped WAY more than they could have achieved elsewhere because it was already established. Also, people achieve status, fame, and recognition from doing a job they enjoy and excel at, because they invest heart and soul to make it succeed. If you are doing something right and getting results for your efforts, it gets noticed.

  41. Heather

    Oct 13, 2012

    7:49 pm

    I’d never heard of this “hedgehog” concept but I’ve tried to apply a form of it anyway. However, when I lose the passion, I actually cannot learn. I’m a slow learner to begin with and when I get so behind every one else, the words scramble up in my brain. I try to plug away but the harder I push, the farther behind I get and the more I fight to concentrate. After age 50 I think the search for purpose is a lost cause; I don’t have 10,000 hours any more.


    Mavis Reply:

    I’m 53 years old, and I’m not prepared to lie down and let whatever time left slip away being stuck in a job and lifestyle that doesn’t fit my needs. I’m going to focus on building a lifestyle that supports me. What I do in terms of earning is less important, as long as I earn enough time and energy to do the things I enjoy doing. I’m focussing on quality not quantity. I would suggest you explore what your six critical needs are, and create a lifestyle that satisfies at least half of those. That will at least give you a starting point from where you can then proceed to address your unmet needs. Give yourself a break, and go for small changes that will accumulate over time to something better. Forget about status, wealth, fame etc. Just carve out a life in which your soul can breathe easier, and then move on from there. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Just pace yourself. God bless.


  42. Maria

    Oct 15, 2012

    12:08 am

    SO glad I found this blog!
    I have too many things going on and its confusing and draining me. I LOVE learning too and take on advice from anyone and everyone (as long as it is not Criticism/offends me because I will STONEWALL) I don’t know what I should choose or how to prioritize. ( I seem to be writing goals every couple of days and researching new ways to write goals ) I work at 3 different places and am trying to become a professional at a certain sport. My goal (becoming a pro) does require money and I often feel guilty asking my husband for his time and money, and when we do go travelling to the events I feel responsible and guilty for everything that goes wrong and never seem to perform my best. I am also writing a book and find it helps me release my trapped emotions. I have been wanting to become a pro since I was 15 (im 21 now) and have done the sport since I was 6 (more than 10 000 hours) Why aren’t I there yet? I wonder to myself.


  43. Christine

    Oct 21, 2012

    12:16 pm

    I know I already said this before but I’ll say it again. You are awesome.


  44. Erick

    Nov 15, 2012

    12:54 pm

    Hello Corin,

    After reading many times on your site, I just decided to share my experience.

    I’m 34 years old, single, unemployed for one year, living in my parent’s home.
    I have always been trapped in this circle : learning with a belief of my ideal carrier, struggling against unemployment to finally find a job which wasn’t fullfilling my needs, so stress, depression, and I was thinking about a different carrier.

    At first, I decided to save the world against pollution. So I studied, but in an administrative carrier of environment care, because I wanted to please my parents who value security of being employed by the government.
    So I discovered that the job I studied for wasn’t so needed, and after unemployment, find that it was very boring to do the same tasks everyday, with no meaning, except respecting the laws and rules. Environment protection wasn’t the point, just to follow the rules.

    So I decided (maybe Te’s choice) that computer analyst will give me a lot of money, and I won’t be unemployed no more. But the studies was difficults, and even if I graduate, I didn’t find a job, because the climate wasn’t appealing to me, and I discovered by working 3 month in a society that I needed to see people during my job, and being alone with the computer 8 hours a day was making me view suicide as a good choice!

    So after unemployment, I turned back to my parent’s country, where I worked for a municipality until I decided to change my life. It was possible to me to try to be a teacher, for little children. Very difficult. I was working at being very organised, struggling against the pupils who was difficult to me, because I don’t know how to rule them, just know how to councel them. And I discovered that working in my job, and in my house was binding me to this job too strongly. I needed, in fact, to have another life after the job.

    After is a melt of unemployment and boring standardised work with no soul but plenty of rules to follow.

    Now I still am unemployed. I lost a lot of my time, maybe 6 years, at trying to find the right path to me. The bad ones always teached me a piece of what could make a good job to myself.

    I always have cooked, as it is like making magic spells with good tastes. I also have a huge interest in health and fooding. So I thank about being a dietician, or a french pastry maker, because I can’t travel without tracking facts about food, and means of improve a food, and I never stay away from the kitchen, always thinking about a mean to make some food which power could be to heal or improve health.

    But I fear it’s just a fantasy of my brain, always daydreaming about a better life. I’m in a age whereI need to earn money for sure. In a not boring way. Difficult to me to choose the right path, as it is needed to follow many years of studies, without knowing what will happen after.


  45. Wayne

    Nov 30, 2012

    2:04 pm

    Im turning 28 soon and I feel like just failed at my 5th accounting job. All added up, I’ve spent the past 10 yrs of my life pursuing a profession I’ve never liked. I’ve been trying to figure out if I should give it another try or pursue a field that would allow me to express some degree of creativity. This article and all the comments have reinvigorated me to give it another shot. My plan now is to get those 10,000 hours and work on a creative portfolio on the side. With the zero based thinking, I’ve reminded myself why I pursued accounting. Be like a hedgehog… Be like a hedgehog…

    After finding all these INFP’s that are struggling with their careers, I feel like I’ve finally found my people. People that can understand me the way a lot of my family and friends aren’t able to. Thanks Corin and to everyone else posting your experiences.


  46. David

    Jan 4, 2013

    12:14 pm


    I’m also an INFP, a 39 year old Swede, so please bare with my English.
    INFP:s are often depicted simply as “dreamers”. However, I don’t fully see myself as a gullible fool wandering about in a dreamy world. E.g. I’m able to see the essence of things much more quickly than NT types. But then again, if you’re still trying to figure out the perfect job at 39 (which I am) I suppose you’re a bit dreamy…

    As to the 10 000 hours thing, I guess the result will vary, depending on how well/relevantly those hours are spent. And maybe INFP:s are foxes after all? A bit like journalists, happily moving on from subject to subject. Maybe we shouldn’t blame ourselves too much for doing that (I know it’s hard not to).

    One thing I’ve found helpful as an INFP is to become a bit more structured by learning some time management (I think it was David Allens “Getting Things Done”). I also find it helpful to decide to spend a certain amount of minutes to a specific activity. It stops me from thinking “should I really be doing this now” or “will this take all day?” No, it will take X minutes. That’s it.

    You can have fun (important for INFP:s!) planning a list with activities and breaks and then execute them one by one like a robot. I find that this method makes me extremelly more efficient and it “liberates” me from my INFP downside of wasting time hesitating “do I really feel like doing this now?” etc.


    some infp Reply:

    thank youuuu!!!! the x minutes thing makes so much sense.


  47. Jerry SantaMaria

    Jan 16, 2013

    7:31 am


    This is my second time commenting on this site. I can spend all morning reading your blog. I also want to sincerely thank you for helping me out. Figuring out what you want to do in life is not easy for some, especially INFPs. I’m actually not 100% how I’m going to make money but I’m going to at least start a blog and try to help other’s find their calling or maybe help them even find a job. I did career counselling for 5 years and really liked it alot. I ended up in sales because of the money but now I think I can have both. I’ve never made a web site or a blog but may I ask what you used to make yours or was it professionally done? I’m thinking of using weebly or yola. Any advice will be much appreciated.


    Corin Reply:

    My site uses WordPress. Here’s what I did at first:

    1. Downloaded WordPress files.
    2. Signed up for a domain name. I use GoDaddy because it was the cheapest among the big registrars. And you can find online coupon by just Googling for one. ($8-12/year)
    3. Signed up for hosting. I use and (for clients because it’s cheaper and a little easier for them to use)
    4. Uploaded files WordPress files to hosting company site, configured the database and ran the WordPress set up. This is the technical part, but if you know have any friends with a modicum of web skills, they can do this for you in less than 15 minutes).
    5. Search the internet for free WordPress themes that you would want to use. Import it into WordPress and use that theme until you think it’s a good investment to pay for a designer.

    Other alternatives. Use tumblr, the WordPress site, or any of the other blogging sites and pay for the fee to have them host your domain (ie, your using tumblr but the URL is and not I choose to set up my own hosting because of long-term convenience.

    I designed the currently WordPress Theme myself because I have a background in web design. I used a free stock theme for the first year. It wasn’t cost-effective to me to spend a bunch of time doing design and coding if I wasn’t getting traffic. I only took the time out to do this design because people were complaining that the previous design was hard to navigate because I had more content. I redesigned out of necessity and not because I wanted it to look cooler.


  48. Valerie

    Jan 28, 2013

    4:47 pm

    Thank you. I can already tell this blog will be a great help to me in my life. Just becoming aware that these things that I do, ways that I am, are common among INFP’s. It helps. I’ve been described by friends as flaky, fickle, and flighty. I pick something that I’m good at and dive in but it’s not long before I get bored and want to move onto the next thing. This manifests itself in all aspects of my life.. relationships, career, hobbies… It’s hard.


  49. Ben Psimer

    Feb 10, 2013

    8:06 pm

    Thank you for this article. I have been working on focusing in on my passion for writing. When I was in college, I studied computer science and English. I have always been a natural with technological concepts. But my passion was not in programming, despite my desire for it to be. Now, I am debating with myself about where I should start writing. I know that I have a happiness engine in writing comedy, but also feel a strong drive to write inspirational/autobiographical stories. This has helped me to confirm what I have felt was necessary to get to those dreams that have been buried.


  50. Cresanna

    Feb 17, 2013

    8:52 am

    This is so helpful! Interestingly, I know what my “Hedgehog Concept” is – autism therapy. But as you described, I have wandered around, checking other possibilities and not focusing my energy. Reading this article helped me realize that at 35, it’s time I picked a focus and stuck with it.


  51. Derick Wade Grover

    Mar 4, 2013

    1:11 pm

    Amen. Another great post. Like most people, I like to read things that make me shake my head in recognition of the commonality expressed- It’s reassuring and inspiring to see yourself, your thoughts, your experiences mirrored in the words of another. And it’s exciting to find a writer who excels at elucidating and illuminating the very questions you yourself have been struggling to answer. Thanks again for your wisdom and work.


  52. n

    May 6, 2013

    12:53 pm

    Hi I’m 22 and recently realised I am an INFP 🙂

    I did accounting in college – although I was ok at it, my career choice when I was 16 was probably more an attempt to help the faltering family business than due to a true interest in numbers.

    At the moment I’m in a soul destroying accountancy job with an insurance company. Despite slogging my guts out every day, i don’t feel any of the work I’m doing achieves anything (or is appreciated)

    At the moment I am contemplating going back to college – to do a conversion course in law. I have a genuine interest in current affairs and law, and want to have a fulfilling career. I want to help people but I’m not naive. My fear is that I will get swept into an industry where my values and beliefs will be conflicted.
    Any advice or thoughts?, they will be much appreciated. Thanks


    Corin Reply:

    First, you have to decide if you’re a career person or not. If you’re not, then no career is ever going to be fulfilling in the long run. You’ll end up being bored with it after 5 years.

    If you are a career person, most surveys say that environment is more important than the work. Basically a good boss and good co-workers are more important to happiness in the work place then what you do every day. What that means is, do you like the people in current affairs and law? If not then, even if you have a great job, the people will make your job feel miserable.

    If you’re not a career person, then I would recommend figure out they lifestyle you want to live and then figure out what kind of job will best fund that life. If you want a life of travel, working 60+ hours in law isn’t going to let you create that life for the first 10 years at least.


    tess Reply:

    Right ON!…Being an INFP, having a human behavior degree, and doing almost every job under the sun because where I reside has a transient quality that biz’s come and fold every few years, so you can be downsized, displaced or laid off chronically through no fault of your own. I can say with authority, most jobs can be done, if the environment you are working in is favorable to the person. “N” having worked in the insurance industry, let me assure you, most reach threshold in that environment no matter what your job title is, as it just seems to be the nature of the industry. They are more concerned with bottom lines than most, and don’t regard values or beliefs of most of their employees. So I hope that validates your perceptions as being on target!


  53. Michelle

    May 13, 2013

    11:09 pm

    What bothers me is that I’m supposed to be good in the art (right brain) stuff. I don’t put much effort into in, because there are few jobs out there for it with too much competion. It’s not like cashier jobs where there are a bunch of those jobs available in the local classifieds. You don’t see a bunch of wanted adds for actress (15/hr.), writer (12/hr.), piano 17/hr., painter, 10/hr., and psychologist 50/hr). So, it doesn’t make sense to spend hours and money on something that you have little chance in making money on. And, a fat chance being a screen write. Too much competition. And, I don’t see any talent in me at all. So, where does that leave us? With other personality type jobs? Great. That has been my thinking. I’m 42 BTW. I think it is great you guys are trying. I hope you all do well, and I’m grateful to have you all to talk to. I’ve read everyone’s post and can relate 100 percent. But, I’ve given up, and just accept life the way it is. What else could I do? Thanks for listening.


  54. Al

    May 30, 2013

    12:37 am

    **Warning** Long post. As you can see…

    Hi, thanks for the article. For years I’ve been trying to figure myself out because I seem to be drastically different from those around me. It turns out that the reason it took so long was because I wasn’t being completely honest with myself. Your articles helped reinforce some of the revelations I’ve had in these past couple years. My cousin kept telling me about how I’m such an Idealist, and though I agreed, I didn’t think it affected me that much. However, it kind of dawned on me why I have these A.D.D.-like qualities, like your fox reference, I like to switch from life goal to life goal. I am easily drawn in by the idealized view of a hobby or career so much so that I try “claim it” but eventually the excitement wears off and then I realize that it doesn’t make me happy anymore. Your happiness engine concept is really helpful. I kind of knew in the back of my head somewhere that the things that drove me were recognition and peak experiences but just seeing it printed is kind of a revelation. I always thought that my desire for recognition was prideful and that it should be put in my mental wastebasket, I never stopped to think that this is just the way some people are, and it was a natural part of me that I shouldn’t necessarily fight.

    Anyway, I started typing this to ask you a question, and it is, that based on my recognition and peak experience happiness engines being mostly in control, what career would suit me? I am all across the map on this one because nothing really makes me happy only the highs I get from thinking about my perfect world, the indescribable feelings from mulling over philosophies and new thoughts, or the recognition from different situations make me feel content. Well, that and a big wad of cash. No, but seriously, how can I not remain poor as an INFP. It’s so very hard to get myself to stick with something long enough to reap the benefits because all along the way it just doesn’t seem worth it. Even though it is… yep I’m a nutcase.

    By the way, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one with the OCD quirk.

    Also, about the whole recognition thing, the only thing I have sort of stuck with over the years was drawing because people always complimented me on them when I was a kid. I don’t know if I’m this way because I wasn’t used to being recognized when I was a kid or what. Do you think that this will go away as I find people that are more emotionally nurturing? Could I just be this way because I’m deprived of it or because it is apart of my natural personality?

    Daydreaming is my pitfall and everytime I can’t seem to get out of it.


    Corin Reply:

    If you have time to read my horrendously long articles, I will take time to read your comments. Thanks for reading.

    I have a hard time answering questions about career because even though I currently work as a programmer, I consider my career is has really been focused on retiring early. This is my career because it matches my 3 highest values: Freedom, Creative Self-Expression and Connection. I get to do all three as I try to learn how to create financial freedom for myself.

    My best advice for you is to decide to what kind of life you want to have and live? What kind of feeling does that life give you? Once you decide the the live you want to live and the feelings that you want from living that life, then career should be based around what activity will produce those feelings long enough for you get 10,000 hours in.

    I’m in the process of writing a new article about Life Style Orientation vs Work Style Orientation. Some people are not work oriented and making a career as the focus of your life if you’re Life Style Oriented will just make you unhappy.


    tess Reply:

    may I suggest getting a copy of the Artist’s Way/ Julie Cameron, it might help getting past what you wrote here, and would nurture the creative side I think you need to ignite.


  55. Rich

    Jun 12, 2013

    8:17 am

    I just turned 39 this past may and like many of you I am in the same boat. I went to law school at 33 in year two realized it wasn’t going to be what I hoped. And like a good soldier I got the degree and license but not passionate to practice. Now Im a fed contractor unhappy and adrift. Finding this blog today has made me not feel alone in my head.


  56. elly

    Jun 23, 2013

    4:20 pm

    This post strikes a chord with me, not only with the difficulty of putting the Hedgehog Concept (HC) into practice, but the struggle I have being an INFP with a mild form of narcolepsy (without cataplexy) which causes excessive daytime sleepiness EVERYDAY without fail. Since getting treated–albeit reluctantly–with medication twice a day, it has opened my energy levels up for opportunities to practice the HC.

    “Why” was recurring theme when questioning my cognitions and behaviors. That is, until I found the type indicator and realized that this is me; the way I process things is okay. I’ve always had this feeling of not being “normal” since I felt like I thought so much deeper than the majority of people.

    (By the way, it’s great to read everyone’s comments and feel understood!)

    Now the question is “what.” I can’t seem to figure out WHAT to do for an occupation that can give me: independence, a creative outlet and a flexible schedule, while ideally 😉 working from home. I am passionate about music–maybe even art, I like to research things that interest me, and I have even thought about making jewelry and crafts to sell online.

    This is where the HC comes in: I’m attempting to teach myself steel-string acoustic guitar via the internet and I have very limited training in the music field, namely singing in school choir in my pre-high school years with some, I may venture to say, natural ability. I have been flirting with visual art (painting mainly), and although music IS my passion (from what I can gather 🙂 ), I’ve been stuck in planning mode and waiting for inspiration to hit or that lightbulb moment of “this is my calling!” I’m sure this is partly due to my fear of failure and lack of patience/direction.

    I feel quite hopeless about what occupation to choose (can we INFPs really say “choose” or is it more like occupations may choose us?). In the past I have gotten interested in a field and have set out on that path with gusto. Only to come to an abrupt realization that it is not what I am meant to do. Example: my current job as a personal trainer/group exercise instructor. Not me. At all…and I’m quite miserable, especially considering I’m a generally happy person.

    Any advice is welcome. Corin, thanks for the excellent and insightful post.


    Corin Reply:

    I finally decided that I’m just not a work-oriented person and trying to be is fighting my nature and that’s never good.

    So I’ve been focusing on life style design instead of work style design. Work style design is where my focus is on what kind of work do and I want how to I re-arrange my life (more schooling, change in profession, etc.) in order to have the work. Life style design is where you focus on creating the life you want to live and purpose of work is to fund it in the most pleasant way possible.

    In life style design, I’ve been asking myself questions like, what do I want my life to mean, what do I want to create, how would I contribute if I didn’t need to worry about money? What I’m passionate about is my life outside of work. So how does my current job contribute to that life besides monetary? I realized that my job as a programmer stress free so it doesn’t take my energy when I go home. I realized that it gives me a lots of vacation days and a lots of flexibility in using those days so I can arrange work around my life instead of the other way around.

    You probably became a personal trainer because you wanted to help people and change lives. I know my wife’s life has changed after she got sick because of a personal trainer.

    I know I was unhappy with my job for the longest time because I didn’t know what kind of life would make me fulfilled so I was hoping that find a job that would make me fulfilled. Now that I have a better understanding of the life I want to create, the purpose of a job now is to help me move to the next stage stage of life creation.

    I’m hoping that helps. I’m working on my new post on Life Style Design which hopefully will expand on this idea.


    elly Reply:

    I finally decided that I’m just not a work-oriented person and trying to be is fighting my nature and that’s never good.<—That hit the nail on the head with me! I know I'm not lazy…I'm learning guitar, reading about psychology, keeping up with my two pups…I could go on! That took some convincing from myself though, that yes, I AM a very motivated person…I am just not a workaholic.

    I have been searching hard since I graduated to find my career path; having a "career" and climbing the corporate ladder and being "successful" in societal terms gets drilled into our heads from a very young age.

    You won't believe what the sermon yesterday in church was about…yep…WORK. God is trying to reach out to me and tell me, "Look, Elly! Be grateful for the job you have now! I have blessed you with this." Funny how God knows just what to show us when we need it…

    Even after the sermon, though, I was feeling a little bit helpless about my situation and then you, Corin, you speak such wise words that resonate with me much like the sermon did. Thank you.

    Lifestyle Design may just be what I've been looking for…

    One thing I was to leave you all with is (from whomever quoted this originally) "Happiness is a state of mind." We are blessed!

    And Corin- I'm so happy to hear your wife has benefited from the help of a personal trainer, especially after an illness! May she continue to enjoy health and happiness.

    I look forward to the Lifestyle Design post!



  57. Sonya

    Jun 23, 2013

    6:35 pm

    I am in the same boat as you. I’ve done office work all my life, and at 39 feel that I cannot continue in this work any further. My passion has always been music. I have always put it on the back burner, since I was not encouraged to go into any creative careers when I was young. My mother told me I wouldn’t be able to live or earn a living from it. Ever since then I’ve dabbled in lots of crappy jobs, that have only left me depressed and feeling like I don’t belong.

    It’s taken me this long to figure out that I feel that I don’t belong, because I’m not doing what I was meant to do. Hence I quit my full time job to be creative. The idea is that I can pick up some part-time or casual work so I can concentrate on studying piano, voice and guitar. Now I am a beginner like you, who has only started learning via the internet. Next year I plan to get some private lessons, and then perhaps back to College to study music and adult education. I know this may take 10 years or so, but I’d rather be teaching music and creating when I’m 49, then still working in an office, depressed and hating it!

    I don’t have any big goals of fame and fortune, but I would love to become a adult music and arts teacher. I’d love to establish a community choir, were people from all walks of life. Homeless, elderly, disabled etc can come together and express their selves.

    Elly, it seems from your post that have experience in leading groups. From those skills, you could consider becoming a tutor/teacher or working in the community.

    I have just finished a book called ‘The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People’ by Carol Eikleberry. I highly recommend it. Not only for working out what sort of creative careers that suits your personality, but it covers in great details fears that people may have. I think I will always use the second half of the book as a reference when I need a pick me up and feel like I don’t have the talent etc to achieve my dreams.


    elly Reply:

    Sonya- thanks for the tips! I am grateful for them and will consider them. If you read the above post from Corin and my reply to it, you may also see some benefits from the Lifestyle Design. At least until you get to the Workstyle Design. But even if you don’t get to the Workstyle Design (which I BELIEVE you CAN do anything you put your mind to, personal trainer or not, I believe in you! 🙂 ), you will still be DOING what it is that ignites fire within you.

    I just got off of a 2-hour long webinar put on by a phenomenal guitar instructor (your guitar sage dot com), and it gave me the COURAGE and MOTIVATION to dig deep and push through the difficult stages of learning guitar–because guess what–after the toughest part, comes the REWARDING feeling of accomplishment! Not to mention a way to create unique sounds within a field of which you are so passionate.

    And I hope by reading between the lines in that last paragraph, I also make the point I’m attempting to make, which is if we put in a little hard work along with faith in our abilities, we can accomplish even the biggest of dreams.

    Take care.



  58. Maeve

    Jun 24, 2013

    9:13 pm

    The comment about being life style oriented and not work oriented resonated for me. The societal message is a very different one, so of course. I’ve been trying to fix myself for years now. I’m not lazy, I work very hard at things I care about. And I tend to be reliable and conscientious. But the minute something starts to feel like a job– where I’m somehow beholden to others, my interest flies out the window.

    I’m pursuing work (a career if you will) that exposes me to organizations and causes I’m interested in. The possibilities for networking and learning are endless. I’m hoping that with proper nurturing, this can become a life style thing that pays. For reasons I don’t understand, I’m a lot more productive and creative when survival and money don’t factor into it…


  59. Nashedur Rahman

    Jul 3, 2013

    9:22 pm

    Awesome post Corin, I’ve know I was an INFP for 2 years now, I always wondered why I was different to the other people and why i couldn’t just be happy for what i am doing. But INFP’s are restless souls always on the path for meaning in their lives. I must admit even from know I was an INFP i was still struggling with what to do with my life and i’m 47!!. Anyway I decided to redefine myself into a writer because the very act of writing allows me to encapsulate so many things that i want to do but may not have the time to do it in reality because you can only do so many things in your lifetime. So I have opted to write about these things, my thoughts are that i might not be able to do those things but at least i will have some experience of them by writing about them.

    As INFP, we are very reflective people and sometimes unrealistic, I know i am and my wife has to reel me back to reality. But we can all chose one thing, the the thing that resonates with us the most and focus on that. For me its my writing, eventually i want to write my own books but for the time being my strategy is to work as a freelance writer and give work on my craft while spending spare time i have to write my books.


  60. Jennifer

    Aug 28, 2013

    1:36 pm

    I am an INFP. I am 51% I and 49% E. I am an estate planning and real estate attorney with an undergrad degree in finance. My father insisted I pursue something practical in college. He was not amused my English degree interest. 🙂

    I am 40 and I am at a crossroads. I have been practicing since 2006. I am starting to get a little bit bored in my job. I also know that I need to work harder at getting more business. I am self-employed, and I know I could never work in a law firm.

    The conclusions I have reached in my mid life re-evaluation might be helpful to some people on this blog. 1st, sales is a valuable skill. I have had opportunities to learn it and I should try to be better. Real estate sales is just one aspect of real estate. I am very interested in learning all about real estate. I have an interest in anything that relates to property or any sort. That doesn’t mean I have to sell it. There are other positions in real estate, i.e., appraiser, attorney, title company positions, surveyor to name a few. If someone did not want to go to law school, I think that financial planning would be suitable for an INFP. We sell ourselves to employers all the time. We sell our ideas. INFP’s can sell. Selling can be a lucrative business that allows one to express one’s self. Sales is about relationship building. Don’t write off sales.

    I don’t think there is going to be a perfect job out there for an INFP. You have to figure what you can stomach. I have decided that having clients who are individuals rather than corporations works well for me. It is more personal and allows me to build relationships, which I like.

    I have a lot of freedom as my own boss. I have the freedom to express my individuality.

    The main draw backs to being an attorney is that I have to work very had at my attention to detail. I over analyze things. I am sensitive and had to learn to take things less personally and deal with conflict. But isn’t that just par for the course to survive in this world?

    Working completely by myself doesn’t allow me to collaborate with other creative types. I need that, and I am looking for it. Working by myself keeps me from being oppressed by ENTJ’s. lol

    I am looking for other opportunities to let me collaborate, express myself, and work on projects. For now, I think I will stick with estate planning and real estate work.


    tess Reply:

    Loved your post Jennifer, and totally agree that sales based on relationship building is ideal for an INFP, because you can sell what you believe in. And it is all about threshold (ability to stomach) and what is tolerable for an individual. Sales gets a bad rap sometimes, but really we are born salespeople in life whether you embrace that or not, everyone is doing that ALL day long, because it is all about stuff like negogiation and presentation. If you like what you are promoting then it is easy to promote any idea in life, therefore “selling” it. And to be successful in promotion it takes relationships, because people will buy from those they trust. All of life is pitching ideas, concepts, and building connection. Collaboration is the human condition otherwise all of us would have a self sustaining island with zero need for anyone. YOU GO GIRL, you “get” it! Press on!!!


  61. Pris

    Oct 1, 2013

    7:35 pm

    Thanks so much!!! I stumbled upon your blog. I have never felt so normal in my life. I’m so glad to find others who share similar struggles, similar interests, and similar thoughts!!!


  62. ERIN C.

    Oct 9, 2013

    12:21 pm

    I am 34. I was a Film Librarian, a Carpenter, a Video Editor and now I’m studying to be a Forensic technician. I can’t tell you how happy this article makes me. I’m happy that so many people feel the same way and are in the same mind set. Sometimes, when I look at others, it’s as if I’m the only one that has a perpetual need for change. Which can be extremely interesting and never boring but it is also very unstable. And sometimes, stability is what I need most but can never obtain.


    tess Reply:

    I think you are just enjoying the banquet of life in a healthy way. Stability is fleeting, once you grasp that the only thing certain and stable is the moment we are in, it is a highly freeing discovery. Comparison to others is futile, as you are unique, so what works for others, probably won’t resonate or work for you, don’t waste energy on their adventures or journeys, just invest in your own, follow your gut and embrace that desire for perpetual change as healthy and life giving, not as a negative trait.


  63. Kelli

    Jan 26, 2014

    9:14 am

    You nailed that one down. I am so happy to know that there are other people out there that experience the same problem. I have been in a certain career for 8 years now. I’ve flirted with taking certification classes for several years and finally started taking them a few months ago. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m wasting my time because I know that I’m not really passionate about this career choice.


  64. Delaney Sanders

    Mar 12, 2014

    3:23 am

    I googled “is sewing a good hobby for an infp” and found your blog… Lol
    Words can not express how much I relate with this article and feel as if I am losing my mind at times.
    I am trying to find my “purpose” in life.
    So many things excite me lately that I’d like to pursue, but I never seem to stick with anything. I’m assuming that I haven’t found it yet?
    Being unemployed at the moment, I feel like such a drain on my fiancé.
    I truly want to contribute financially but by doing something that allows me to be creative, not a sell out… (I will never be a 9-5er as I despise Corporate America and all the evil that comes with it)
    Anyway, you have a new follower. Thank you for this site:)


  65. Melanie

    Mar 15, 2014

    11:14 pm

    I just recently found out I’m an INFP and it explains so much about how and why I do what I do! I still don’t know “what I want to be when I grow up”. I’ve struggled with this for years. I am now in my early 30’s and am attempting to go back to school for the millionth time. I’m concentrating on my GEs as I dont know what I should major in, I just know I need a degree. I’m a fine arts major still from my first attempts at school but battle with my thoughts daily as to whether I should just finish this degree (you know, finish something I started for once!) or change to a more “practical” degree. I have a lot of interests but get stuck in analysis paralysis mode because I don’t want to be a starving artist. I live in a very affluent place where the median income is over six figures and I struggle to get by working in insurance. I know I am in the wrong field but I don’t have that many skills. The job isn’t terrible but as I said, I am struggling to make ends meet and it’s kind of boring. I recently got the idea to become a life coach. I have a few friends who went through coaching training and it seems like something I may be good at. Who knows, I may change my mind on that next week! Haha.


  66. Daniele

    May 10, 2014

    4:06 pm

    I learned I was an INFP about 20 years ago. I am now 65 facing retirement and I am still wondering what to do with the rest of my life….
    I know I’ll find something interesting. But transforming a hobby into a full time passion is not necessarily an easy task.

    The challenge is always the same. When a big life change is foreseen, the dreamer/reflexive part takes of me takes most of my time and sometimes almost turns into an “analysis-paralysis”.
    Any retired INFP out there ? If so how did you face this part of your life ?


    STurner Reply:

    In an INFP too and for all of my adult life I have been looking for a career that suits me. I’ve done the career tests and have tried a few jobs/careers, but not finding a place where I belonged left me feeling depressed and floundering.

    I purchased a book called ‘Refuse to Choose’ by Barbara Sher. It’s about people who have lots of interests and refuse to be locked into one career all their life. These people’s main purpose in life is the love of learning. She calls these people scanners. Other books call them renaissance people. For a while I thought this was me, but there was something still niggling.

    I then convinced myself that it was my low self-esteem. I purchased a book for that and did a lot of cognitive exercises thinking that would help me go out in the world, but even then, it just didn’t feel right.

    Then after reading about an old schools fiends success and feeling low about it, I read a blog that mentioned Barbara Shers other book called ‘I could do anything, if I only knew what it was’. I got it and devoured it all within two weeks,, stopping from time to time when the revelations hit me. I then went back and slowly went through the exercises. Barbara believes that everyone knows what they want, but are blocked by fear, society and family influences which leads a person to be side lined else where. Just like the ugly duckling story. She seems to put a new spin on blocks and resistance that I’ve never seen in a self-help book before. What I love also, is how she doesn’t believe in self blame and she doesn’t believe in raising self-esteem by doing exercises. She says just go out and attempt things and your confidence will grow.

    Long story short, after only having this book for a few weeks, I have decided to go back to College part-time and study music (which I haven’t studied since I was 19) at 40 years old. Being a musician was always my dream but the pull of staying safe, within my families expectations was stronger than any silly dream I had. I know in my heart this is where I belong and where my tribe is. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been this excited about life.

    Summing up, I cannot recommend this book highly enough for people of any age who feel lost. Do a online search for the book, read the reviews and see if it is for you.

    Good luck everybody.


  67. Nicky

    May 13, 2014

    10:24 pm

    Hi Corin, sorry for the multitude of comments lately, I am just in a place of confusion and trying to self-develop and find a path. I am kind of new in this journey, so thank you for the responses you have given me this far. Anyways, I am not sure if I even want to do the things that I think could be a passion. For example, I am an INFP, INFPs tend to be good at writing, art, music, etc. I feel like I am trying too hard to fit into that category. I’ve written and drawn very little in my life that I couldn’t say that I am passionate or drawn to it. I’ve read a bit in my life, but it becomes quite boring, and again I feel like I am trying too hard. The thing is, I don’t know what I want or should do for a hobby. I don’t know what would make me feel the most fulfilled.


    Corin Reply:

    How do you define passion? For me, I define passion as doing something I love doing even when I don’t feel like doing it.

    So what do you do every day even though you don’t feel like doing it?

    The funny thing about liking something a lot is that you don’t know you like it a lot until you’ve been around it for a while.


  68. LoveIs

    Jun 18, 2014

    2:51 am

    I too am in the middle of this struggle. I find it ironic that INFP are some of the best at identifying and motivating others to find their passion, yet I find that mine is ever elusive. When ever I think I found one among the billion things I ‘could’ be doing, I try it out and find it doesn’t at all move me in the way I imagined when reality is added to the picture…. I also struggle with the having to survive in the meantime.

    Maybe we need an INFPs for INFPs find your inspiration/passion where we specifically help one another find what we love…. In the end we might find that being a contributor on that site is what we do actually feel passionate about … maybe?

    I for one feel like I am lost in the catch 22 of posibilities and can’t get my action gear on to move in any direction. So it looks as if after this summer I am back doing what ever just to survive… which I’m usually pretty good at doing once I ‘subdue and convince’ my dreamer that there is no place in reality for my dreams.


  69. Rabbani

    Jul 7, 2014

    4:04 am

    What torments me most is when I’m not materialistic enough to see things. Sometimes I do things without thinking whether I’ll be able to get money from it but as I see the reality, I need money to live too. That’s why sometimes I’m confused at my passions and goals. I’m contradicted at wanting to help others but got disappointed at not getting accepted/thanked after what I did. But the other thing is, not to be show off, after a simple practice I tend to be able and outsmart others at things and combined with my ‘passion’ for learning, I tend to question whether it’s my passion or not so that’s also a factor of why I’m swinging back-and-forth through things. I don’t really know that I’m passionate about ‘x’ or not, about ‘x’ or ‘y’ or both.


    Consuelo Reply:

    Yes, Yes and all over yes! I swear you just stated everything I am. It’s uncanny. It’s nice to know other people feel the same and are in the same boat.


  70. Chad Forthewin

    Nov 18, 2014

    6:45 am

    Great article about me. LOL. Would like to help you guys, my fellow INFPs. This is free by the way. LOL. As per my semi-life coach, “There are 2 very important factors to win in life. One is Commitment and the other is Attitude. Once you control that 2, no matter who you are, you can succeed.
    Too many of us have this feeling of fear about our future, and too many of us have this not so good habit of procrastinating. Too many of us love to think about our future, plans how to be successful. then visioned ourselves successful already. After that, we abandon that vision because we already succeeded in mind. Then Plan B. Again. Then abandonment of vision again.
    So for me, we need to create a list of goals, then “COMMIT”. And because we are that passionate, we will succeed. surely. Would like you to help explain more about commitment. But yeah, I guess it is the most important thing for us INFPs to be successful. Comment now 🙂 Hi guys!


  71. Heba

    Nov 19, 2014

    9:54 pm


    I came across your blog this week so far I liked what I read. But I have a question. I think that my primary happy engine is peak experience. I see it from my interest in everything unusual and nontraditional. And how I don’t like how things are in certain way. I am interested in everything related to health and well being wither its aura, energy, feng shui, alternative medicine, minimalism. Travel, holistic nutrition and practice, and unusual designs of interior design and architecture example:
    Basically every thing related to well being wither in what we eat up to our house and environment, Exactly how to find a career in such various category that might not pay much. And then how I know if I will do well with it.

    Any advice.



    Corin Reply:

    I know three people who make a living as holistic life coaches. One of my close friends is a massage therapist, naturapath who works at an apothecary and teaches. I have another friend who’s an acupuncturist. So yes, you can make a living at it. It’s hard work, but all work is hard work.

    The life coaches have been doing it for 20+ years. They have traditional degrees in psychology and worked in traditional counseling before they become life coaches. They have many more of non-traditional certifications. The acupuncturist had to do 4 years of schooling and had to spend 3 months in China for additional schooling. My friend who’s the naturapath works, teaches class and on top of that is taking some neurobiology class for another certification. The entire process will take her 2 years. She just started her own line of products which she mixes from soaps to other things.

    Let me give you something to think about: where does money come from? Other people. If I freelance, the person hiring me, pays me. If I work for a company, the company pays me but they get their money from people who give them that money in exchange for goods and services that they find of value.

    So in order for other people to give you money, you have to provide something they value in return. And then find those people who value it. What do people value? Knowledge and services, but people want to know you have the official piece of paper that says you have that knowledge. You have to decide what you want to provide in exchange for money. Second you do have to spend time finding people who will give you said money in exchange. The life coaches are in their 40s and 50s and have built up clientele and word of mouth over the years, but they still spend a good portion of their time marketing.

    Even if you get a traditional “job”, this is still the process. You’re still marketing yourself to a company in order to get hired so they can give you money in exchange for your knowledge and services.


    Heba Reply:

    Thank you for your reply.

    I forgot to mention that I am living in the Middle East thus no check major is available where I live. I find many online education providers with some not being accredited and the fees are too expensive for me (my income).

    I also have been reading your blog, it is very interesting. I agree with many things you said as it makes sense to me and your examples make it easy. I have a problem though. I don’t know how I can apply all of that (in a step by step plan) and start my journey to change. Another is, I kind of have a lot of things (goals, habits, objectives) I want to chive, being in my early 30s it feels too late for me to start working as in the result I desire will take too long for me to see let say 10-30 years. What do you say about that?
    I also started to wonder, why or do INFP take too long to figure these things coz it seems that other personalities figure them earlier than us or is it just me. Does it have to do with me being isolated and not exposing myself to (as you put it) “new” situation / experience or such?

    I think perhaps I should start by know who I am now “honestly I am not very sure in recognizing my motivation” and making a list on who I want to be as in my inspired ideal self.

    Thank you in advance.


    Heba Reply:

    and by the way, dose it have to do with reading ALOT? do i need to real a lot of books and so. to make sure to know whats going around me coz somehow i am expert in being detached. how to change that?

    Eva Reply:

    I think all INFPs have a tendency to be a bit detached. We’re the dreamer type. We spend too much time in our minds and books and even movies and computer games and too little in the reality. =P

    And it’s not just you. Many INFPs, including me, have a huge problem in finding out what they want to do. I’m 24 and still no idea…

    Chad Forthewin Reply:

    @Eva , I don’t think we, INFPs, got problems finding out what we want to do. We, in fact, always found out what we want. The problem is that ‘it’ don’t last. Today you want to be an artist, tomorrow you want to be nurse. Most of the time, I hate that ’bout me.

    Chad Forthewin Reply:

    @Eva , I don’t think we, INFPs, got problems finding out what we want to do. We, in fact, always found out what we want. The problem is that ‘it’ don’t last. Today you want to be an artist, tomorrow you want to be nurse. Most of the time, I hate that ’bout me.


    Eva Reply:

    Yeah, I rather meant that it’s hard to choose between all the options, not that there are none. But I guess it’s probably not that hard for some.


  72. Chad Forthewin

    Dec 5, 2014

    11:50 pm

    We easily get inspired. we get inspired on what we read, we get inspired on what we watched, we want to do all these things. After a day or so, we abandon the idea.


  73. Chad Forthewin

    Dec 5, 2014

    11:56 pm

    Tomorrow, I’ll be applying for my 1oth job in 5 years. not including my freelance jobs Lol, now as a Car salesman,. I know I will get the job. And I know that this wont be my last job. jobs=redundant :))


  74. Maja

    Dec 10, 2014

    9:47 am

    I just love this blog. I keep going back and rereading the articles and the posts. I can relate to all of you!!

    I am totally stuck in analysis paralysis lately. I feel like all of sudden all of my ideas just disappeared (because Ive managed to talk myself out of all of them!!!) and Im drawing a blank. Im worried I might fall back into a depression. I WANT to be an expert in something – I want to dedicate 10000 hours to something and be respected as an expert in something.

    My typical thought pattern goes something like this:
    -Decide that an MBA is for me because it opens the doors to entrepreneurship and making some of my ideas happen
    -Then I get worried because well now I can’t commit myself to becoming a search and rescue firefighter
    -So then I say, well Im not strong enough to be a firefighter yet so Ill spend an hour a day doing intense workouts
    – And then I think well maybe I can be a part-time search and rescue firefighter, and part time writer, and part time businesswoman

    I just dont want to close the doors on anything!! Its like I think that business people are SO opposite from firefighters (I mean they are but someone can be fit and strong and volunteer for search and rescue and be a business person).

    In the past year the following ideas for careers have gone through my head
    -sociology professer
    -entrepreneur (I don’t like how with this, things are uncertain)
    -medicine (I like the idea of being respected and helping others but i dont excel at sciences)
    -mba with a focus on sustainability
    -lawyer (don’t know how i feel about the long hours, paper work, and stress)
    -interior design
    -search and rescue firefighter
    -apparel designer
    -property developer (why an mba is also attractive but then I think I could flip houses on the side haha)

    So I can’t decide. It doesnt help that Im an INFP and I need to see meaning in what I am doing all the time …obviously firefighting would give me that but its not within my current skill set. Business is attractive but I worry its too corporate, but then I think well if I have my own start up then there is meaning and a potential to hire people and be a good boss. I also seem to want a career that is respected and so many of my entrepreneurial ideas dont hold much weight sometimes because I feel like … well Im not a doctor or an enginner so what am I contributing?

    The worst part of right now is that I dont like where I am working and want a change so badly, but can never commit to anything enough.

    any advice is sooo appreciated!


    Heba Reply:

    Hi Maja (is that male or female name by the way, I am curious!),

    Well one thing I learned; for something to be common, does not set it to be the right way to do it or the only way. Why do you/ we have to have a degree on something before we work on that thing, I ask myself that every day and I figured it is probably coz I don’t trust anyone to do it as I want lol or as perfect I believe I will make it. Guess what you don’t have to have a degree on it especially when you are not sure you can commit to it. I think INFP are great starters but they never finish 100% the task. I usually drop it at 75% then leave it “at least when it comes to house chores!” my mom finishes the rest of it! I remember one day (4 years back) I was moving to another house and I wanted to paint the house! So I arrange with a relative to do it with me. I end up doing half of a wall of the house and the rest my friend relative did it coz I was busy at work “I thought I will finish it in a day or few hours” bottom line the goal is done, the result is better than I expected. That’s when I realized I can assign someone to do things for me all I need is pick the right person. Isn’t that what corporation dose, beside one hand cant clap and when u are feeling down that person will push you, and you will probably get the energy to do it from the anger you feel from all the nagging so u can have peace again lol. It is ridicules way to explain but I hope you get the point!

    There is another conclusion I have made or maybe a tactic. I think I am the kind of person that can focus on things that takes minimum time or a one day task or maximum 2. I actually finish thing that is of great importance so fast! Like legal things or car registration, bill payment stuff like that I don’t get bored doing it coz sometimes if I don’t do them as planned I get restless.

    What I want to say is since our objectives will take years to see the end result plus I am not sure what my commitment level is I thought taking a degree (based on we loving the possibilities of achieving that goal, or our expectation of it “let’s be honest” might not match up) is not such smart move! I thought first I will buy a book about it! “I have a problem reading any book except stories, I will never drop the story before I finish it and after I am done I don’t remember much of the details coz while I am reading there is a movie going on in my head, I am like that with whatever I manage to read plus I hardly read the same thing twise” if I manage to finish the book cover to cover that’s good sign I guess since sometimes I am not aware of positive feeling like I am about my negative feelings. The next step for me is take a course about it! A level certificate or something, then after that try to experience it or implement it in my daily life “like nutrition”! If that won’t cut it for me then maybe I should think about a degree. But don’t jump to degree right away. It will save a lot of money and disappointment I guess.

    Sometimes if your interest drops after reading a book or taking a certificate and it’s been years and you still didn’t find something to commit for, you might ask you self maybe I am a quitter. Well first trying to find something you like for so many years and investing in it while trying to take the realistic and practical route means you are not quitter. Second stick to completing the objectives of your priorities list!

    Thus you should have priority list (ex: religions, spiritual, health, financial, social,) work on them first while investigating your career choice so then you at least done something that you conceder important. Try working on them one at a time.

    As for the business aspect or to be exact the “entrepreneur” it is best to take small steps. Why go global! As in starting a business? It is a lot of work, do u want to keep working all the time…. starting a business for someone who like to play first before working “talking to myself her” is an overwhelming idea. Just thinking of it make me tired, I only want to start a business so I can work when I want to and wake up in the morning when I want to. I don’t want to be stuck to the same routine every day; I want to have 6 months work and 6 months holidays! So maybe instead of becoming business person maybe I should focus on becoming financially self sufficient! That is more achievable. If you nail that maybe then consider business! At least if it all goes wrong it won’t be so hard on your pocket. I personally prefer online business, and people working from their homes! I will get extremely creative her and probably do something not many do in my region at least so I can have the minimum expenses and losses in case it don’t work out! A risk I can afford to take in other words plan for the worse and hope for the best.

    Also you need to do one thing before all of that, you need to have your own definition of success or happiness. Does it have to do with your degree/ education level? Wither you have a business or not, does it have to be in things you have to work so hard on, can’t it be in simple pleasures? Like a nice meal, a regular holidays, great friends, cozy cottage.

    Try to live one day at a time. We can get so caught up in the future and our dreams we have nothing to say for ourselves. I look at my friends now and ten years back. I used to have so many dreams “I still do” that I spend so much time reflecting on it and finally just now I realized what is the perfect equation for “me” to do it so I can “hopefully” act on it without further reflecting “I am pissed it took me this long”, because my friends who had no dreams or didn’t shared with me “coz I am busy thinking out loud I never asked them what they wanted” are way ahead of me! It’s kind of an issue when you are competitive!

    Finally I would advise you to write all your ideas down, so in case it didn’t become reality it is there on papers that you might share with the word one day that it can become something big something real, something a million people will help you achieve. Now imagine how fast that will happen!


    Maja Reply:

    Hi Heba!

    Thank you for the reply! I am female by the way haha. My name is pronounced like Maya.

    I can’t thank you enough for your response. It’s so accurate too. INFP’s really are all so similar!
    You are right in that I feel I cannot pursue something until I am PERFECT at it (meaning lots of education and experience). I already have one degree but my enthusiasm for it faded over time (it was in nutrition). I am Happy I finished it because it felt good to accomplish at least one big thing! With some of my Masters options its almost as if I am procrastinating doing anything by continuing to study. What I should really do is find opportunities and get experience. That way I can start building 10000 hours in something through experience.

    Your point about getting through a book is really good too. I RARELY finish a book. It takes alot for me to even pick up a book (not that I dont like reading, I just enjoy thinking more :O hehe). For example I recently got interested in studying economics and began to read one book on the oil trade but have yet to get to the second chapter….

    I also like the idea of defining success and happiness for me, and to identify the reasons why certain jobs are appealing. You are right being an entrepreneur/pursuing business is appealing because of the idea of potential financial freedom and having a flexible schedule. But there are many ways to reach financial freedom that don’t have to include business ventures per say.

    I read a career help book not to long ago and it suggested making a “dreams box” where you write all your dreams and ideas into a box. The point is to commit to one goal and whenever a new goal pops into your head to put it in the box, and continue with the original goal. One day, if you have time or money, you can revisit the box of ideas and who knows what can come of it! That’s exactly your suggestion too Heba so thanks, I need to start an idea box.

    I also can TOTALLY relate to how others are so “ahead” of me DOING things, while I feel behind and stuck THINKING about things. That’s my whole problem with analysis and paralysis .. I honestly think anyone of my career ideas could be great for me and that there really is no one perfect choice. Your right I have so many friends who have chosen their career path and are now doctors, nurses, real estate agents, etc, etc. and although I don’t envy some of their career paths, I do envy how far they are, and how they are slowly but surely becoming experts. The thing I see with all those careers though is that they are straight line paths. For example nurses and doctors, you have to go through school which then sets you up for an internship and eventually you get qualified. I am not saying its tough because it is, but the road is set. Alot of the careers I am interested in, there seems to be multiple roads to get there which makes it more difficult to navigate and also more uncertain.

    My goal now is to stop looking for career help and just to run with one of my career ideas for a few months and see how far I get. I mean I need to stop looking on blogs (expect this one, this one is AWESOME and insightful), reading career books, etc. I will be checking back here for posts and responses though! 🙂


    Heba Reply:

    Hello Maja,

    I am glad I helped you! I didn’t get notified with the reply though!

    About this dreams box… I actually came up with something like that. I wrote down all my desired objectives in each priority (which are many) I have and I organized /list it from easy to hard/ realistic to idealistic. I wrote it on an online journal and called it wish list this wish list that. I even decided what books I will buy and what courses “not degrees” I want to take that are related to my priorities or interest.

    I am happy to hear that you finished your degree. I didn’t get their yet lol. I have diploma in computing though. These days I am thinking that if I finish my degree in IT I can actually work in making databases…. I can make a database for any category, construction, property, Human Recourse, Nutrition, whatever I want… and you know what you can do with all those info and data, Analyze it… isn’t that what we do most of the time in our heads anyway.

    The courses I will take in my interest can be used in my database design and analyzing! I guess the best parts are: I don’t need to work with many people, I even have the last word I assume since I am doing it, I can do it from anywhere, its all about inspiration, I can make a living with it, it helps making other people work easy, it’s like doing the something but at the same time different! Well I didn’t make my final decision yet.

    The last thing to say is this idea I had yesterday while thinking about the New Year, I will probably pick what step of my wish list I will take for all my priorities as a New Year resolution! And I have alife time doing them all; you know how we want everything to be done with now!

    Happy new year in advance everyone.

  75. Joel Hoffman

    Jan 11, 2015

    6:22 pm

    When I was sixteen and in trouble for truancy and running away from home I told my parents I wanted to quit society and live off the land. They sent me to Minnesota Outward Bound hoping I’d be miserable and change my mind. I loved it of course and have been climbing and paddling ever since.
    Thank goodness I started early. I must have gotten ten thousand hours in four years ago when I started doing it full-time. I tell my guests to “quit yer jobs and be river guides! You’ll never get rich unless you can count how happy you are!”
    Now, instead of being a slave and stuck inside all day for thirty hears, I have a new office, outside, surrounded by nature’s grandeur.


  76. Jonathan Dupre

    Jan 12, 2015

    12:53 pm

    I have 10,000 hours of practice in trying to figure out what’s my one thing.


    Maja Reply:

    Haha!! I wish I could study self growth of myself and get paid for it!!

    Why can’t we just put our ideas, any of our ideas, into action?!?


  77. Sara

    Jan 26, 2015

    1:14 pm

    I just discovered this blog. I think I’ve been looking for it for years. It’s honestly such a relief to know that other people think/feel/act this way. I’m not the only one!

    But I’m still struggling to figure out what to DO about it. Two years ago I made a big, risky decision to leave my job and go back to school full-time in order to start a long-term career that I thought I could stick with and be relatively happy. I realized what I truly wanted to do was teach. I guess I needed life experience before I could figure that out. So, back to school I went to get a PhD, with the goal of eventually teaching college. Now I have a problem because a PhD is expensive and takes forever, and in the meantime I’m not getting any teaching experience. There’s no teaching in what I’m doing. Now what? I’ve invested too much to stop, but I don’t see it going where I want to go. I promised myself I would make this work no matter what. But my “no matter what” didn’t include the possibility that I wouldn’t get any chances to teach. I never would have started if I’d known that. On the other hand it’s seriously hard to get into a PhD program, and if I stop now I might not get another opportunity.

    It’s the dilemma I deal with over and over, in every stage of my life: should I stay and stick it out when I don’t want it anymore, or leave while I still can? When I was younger, I didn’t mind changing directions. Now I want something that will last. But if the PhD road isn’t moving me toward teaching, would I really be abandoning my goal if I started looking for another (cheaper, less crazy) way?


    Corin Reply:

    You first have to start out by figuring out why you don’t want things that you use to want. I have a blog post about that called Making a Better Decision.

    The basic formula is Expected Value of Anything = (Odds of Gain) x (Value of Gain).
    For INFPs, we take the ideal: Perfection = (Being Almost Positive We’ll Get What We Want) x (What We Get Is Everything We Wanted)

    In your situation, what you were trying to value was becoming a teacher. Let’s say perfection is a 100. Odds of gains you rate from 1 to 10. Odds of getting everything you want is also rated from 1 to 10.

    So if gave your odds of becoming a teacher as 10 and you gave the value you would get as a 10. Then 10 times 10 = 100. Now everyone has some range of value with a minimum number before it’s not worth it anymore and it’s more of an unconscious feeling then an actual number. But let’s say that minimum value number for becoming at teacher was 60.

    Maybe your original estimate on Odds of Gain in becoming a teacher around an 8,9 or 10. You get your PhD and then you get to become a professor.

    Maybe your original estimate for Value of Gain is also 8,9 or 10. You become a teacher and the kids love you and you’re shaping the minds of tomorrow.

    So the original value you estimated at its lowest is 64. 8 x 8 = 64. Above the minimum value we mentioned earlier. Like I said, we do this unconsciously. Now 2 years in, you have more experience so you have to revise your estimates. Getting into a PhD program is really hard so maybe it’s a 6. It was 10 when you thought it was easy to get PhD, get some experience and get hired but now you realize that’s more involved then you thought. Now it might be a 6 or 7.

    What about Value of Gain. Well teaching students and doing what you love has to be a 10. But then you find out how long it takes to grade papers and you can’t shuffle it all of to TAs. So now value of gain is a 9. Then there’s all the administrative stuff you have to do and politics so now value of gain is a 7. On top of that the university expects you to research and publish which takes up a lot more time than you thought. So now value of gain is a 6.

    Odds of gain instead of being an 8, 9 or 10. You chances of teaching college was 10 until you had more info. It’s more expensive than you thought so maybe it’s a 9. You’re not getting teaching experience so Odds of Gain is maybe a 7 now.

    So revised estimated value of becoming a teacher is now a 36. 6 x 6 = 36.

    And this is why INFPs change their mind, the value of what we think we will get drops when we get more information. It’s a 100 when you think teaching would be kind of hard but arduous and that teaching college was just about teaching. When we find new information that gives us better estimates to make us realize what we value isn’t as perfect as we thought, we change our minds because the new estimates went below our minimum.

    Hope that makes sense.


    Maja Reply:

    Hey Corin,

    I am sort of stuck between two career paths right now …

    One would 100 % give me the lifestyle/location I desire in life within 5 years (and potentially a good income in time).

    The other would give me the lifestyle/location I desire in life within 10 years (alot more school) and most likely a good income (maybe comproable to the career above, maybe more).

    The first one is working in business, working on their sustainability practices. Most likely thise would be a corporate environment and I feel that might stifle me in the future … but maybe not.

    The second one is environmental law. I am hoping I could sacrifice the detailed work for the big picture and being able to make a difference. I think law might broaden my options in the future (which is always a good back up for INFPS like me) but I am not sure.

    With both jobs I want to make a true difference.. comes down to … law or business? Do I try to make changes internally through business, or do I try to make differences from a higher perspective through law …

    I also am the type of person that I enjoy recognition and want to be a leader at some point through my work … so law seems to make natural sense, but sustainable business could be a way to do this too!

    Ahh….options. The eternal struggle that leaves me paralyzed in inaction.


    Maja Reply:

    I also want to add that I enjoy being creative in terms of design… I feel I am a very visual person and great with ideas. Which is why I’m scared law will be too analytical for me. At the same time I think I’m a quick thinker and enjoy complex problems and LOVE debating.

    For the hedgehog concept I just I’m stuck in ‘what I know id be good at’ because I like using so many different skills. I know I’m passionate about the outdoors so both sustainable business (in the outdoor apparel industry ) and environmental law is appealing. My drive though is making a real difference and being recognized .

    I’m scared by choosing law I wouldn’t be able yo use my creative skills (in terms of actual design not creative problem solving) but I’m scared the other route I wnt have as much influence on protecting the environment.

    Corin Reply:

    So you if you decide to ditch the PhD route then the only way you will stick with the new route is to not wildly overestimate the value of what you’re getting.

    You have to realistic know what you’re getting into (Odds of Gain). How much does it cost? How long does it take? What’s the chances of getting a job and competition? Will you even get to teach where you like or are the only jobs that are available require you to move some remote wilderness where they can’t get teachers? The only way you’re going to know that is not to re-invent the wheel. Find people who are doing exactly what you want to be doing and ask them what it took to get there.

    Will being teacher make you happy (Value of Gain)? How much of being a teacher is teaching (that part you like) and how much of it is grading papers, administration and all the mundane boring stuff that you probably won’t like as much? The only way you find this information is actually shadowing teachers in the job you want for a week so you understand the day to day.

    As for you question with sticking with something, that’s actually the easiest question to answer. It’s called Zero Sum Thinking and it requires you answering one question: knowing what you know now, would you have started in the first place?

    For example, knowing what you know now, would you still have quit your job to teach? Knowing what you know now, would you have gone the PhD route or done something different?

    Those are separate questions. If the answer is no, then the best course of action is to get out as quickly as possible while trying to minimize consequences.

    If you would still have quit your job then stick with becoming a teacher. If you wouldn’t have gone the PhD route knowing what you know now then it’s time to minimize your loss as best you can and find another route.


    Sara Reply:

    Thanks for your reply! I absolutely would have quit my job, if I could possibly have found any way to do it, because I simply could not stand the idea of living every day of the rest of my life as a mindless office cog. Five years was already too much of that. So I’ve traded a completely unacceptable life for something that is just seriously problematic. That’s a step up.

    But I’m still not much closer to accomplishing my goal of becoming a teacher. Presumably, I can only get better at teaching by actually teaching. And I’m also only really satisfied with my daily work when I’m doing something that has to do with teaching. There’s also no way to get around the fact that I have to actually find a way to get paid for this eventually.

    So, what I have to do is either figure out a way to make teaching a bigger part of what I’m doing now, or if that’s not possible then cut loose and find another way to teach. Except that if I leave my program now, I go right back to the mindless cog office world, which I truly can’t live with. So I need both a true long term goal and a livable fallback.


    Maja Reply:

    Hey Sara,

    So I have to reply to your reponses because I considered doing a PhD and becoming a professor too at one point.

    I think, as INFP’s, we tend to sacrifce later for right now alot of the time. Its why I fail to commit to long term things – its amazing I finished a degree 😛

    For example, I often sacrifice studying for exercise, which is not a bad thing, but I know that I need to work harder and study more if I want to go further in life. Exercise is great but its not balanced right now for me.

    Similiarly, I am thinking of pursuing law but 3 years in intense school is daunting because I feel like I wont have a life and be able to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do now. That and I think – well lawyers work so much, will I ever get to be outside as much as I am now? (I am thinking about environmental law by the way 🙂 )

    So my point is we are constantly sacrificing later for now but if you look at those who have accomplished alot in life, its those who have stuck it out through years of schooling and internships and hard work and one day the pay off will be huge.

    I think that you doing your Phd is AWESOME! Right now I am sure its tough because you arent teaching yet but think about it … you are so much closer to teaching then you were X years ago …

    If teaching is your goal – and once you are a professor that is essentially what you do (and TA’s can mark, etc.) then stick out the PhD… think long-term.

    However I thought about this alot to, and teaching comes in many forms. Perhaps you finish a PhD and become a consultant in your field and then you teach through example .. for example, becoming a successful leader in your field of expertise … you reach for the top and then people look up to you and your research and work. You are then teaching them through example…

    Does that make sense?

    Corin Reply:

    Do you like your problems? That’s a really important question to answer when things get hard. There’s no point in our life when we are without problems. Progress is going from one set of problems to a better set of problems. Trying to figure out how to become a teacher and everything that entails has to be a better problem then trying to figure out how to make it through another day at the office. Better problems than you had 2 years ago means you’ve made progress.

    My other recommendation is that for this particular problem, don’t re-invent the wheel. There are many teachers who have been where you are. With the internet there are forums and Facebook pages. Many people have had experiences with exactly what you’re going through now. Ask around, get a bunch of answers because there’s more than one way to solve a problem. Pick the answer that aligns most to your values and do exactly what they did. It’s much faster than trial-and-error.

    Maja Reply:

    Also I was going to add to that. If we are TRULY serious about pursuing a career, job shadowing should not be such a diffcult step to take.

    Yes reaching out to others is hard but I have realized that if I am serious enough about something, I will inquire and take steps to follow through.

    If I never take any steps then its all just a pipe dream in my head.


    Sara Reply:

    I appreciate all your comments. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell the difference between being temporarily discouraged but still on a good path, and needing to get on a different path altogether. If I could see this path leading in the right direction, I’d know to stick with it. At this moment I just can’t tell. I keep deciding that I have to stick with what I’m doing and look for opportunities to make it better. But there’s no doubt I’m in a rough spot.

    I’ll keep working on this, and hopefully find some better solutions!

  78. Maja

    Jan 27, 2015

    9:08 am

    Corin, first of all, I think you should write articles or a self-help book because your formulas and career insights are SPOT ON, and i think you should reach a wider audience – the information is truly helpful.

    The Expected Value of Anything formula and how you explained it makes so much sense to me. It’s why I get so excited about something and within a few days my enthusiasm fades because I have done more research about the job or the industry and it decrease the value.

    You are right – job shadowing and information interviews are by far the most helpful. Im proud of myself because I have done alot of these recently and its narrowed down my options substainially. I still need to do a few more before I solidify my next career move.


    Maja Reply:

    Whoops I put this in the wrong place …

    Also I was going to add to that. If we are TRULY serious about pursuing a career, job shadowing should not be such a diffcult step to take.

    Yes reaching out to others is hard but I have realized that if I am serious enough about something, I will inquire and take steps to follow through.

    If I never take any steps then its all just a pipe dream in my head.


  79. Jason

    Mar 5, 2015

    5:02 pm

    Thank you for this article; it resonated with what I’m looking for. Now the question is how to move forward.


  80. Jerry INF(P/J)

    Jul 15, 2015

    4:18 am

    Excellent Article ! I’ve been stalking personality type discussions online for seven years. This is the first time I’ve commented. The Hedgehog is simply the best analogy ! Thanks!


  81. Jessica (INFP)

    Jul 4, 2016

    9:02 pm

    Check out the book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Rebukes the 10,000 hour rule and instead promotes deliberate practice and mental representation.


  82. Dan

    Sep 10, 2016

    3:08 pm

    Interesting article. I’m wondering though if a summary of the article in more blunt terms is this- quit floundering through too many fields and just choose one and do the 10,000 hours.

    Is this the message here? I remember the first time I read Gladwell’s 10,000 hours statement and it made the INFP in me furious. I didn’t want to believe that was the only way to live. I read a book called Mastery by Robert Green and suddenly found some merit in specialization. But then there’s others out there who say this isn’t the only path and we don’t need to force ourselves. A book called the Renaissance Soul explains that we can use our multiple interests to form portfolio careers where many people cannot. Tim Ferriss write about how being a generalist makes him succeed, assuming he sticks with something long enough to learn the essentials.

    So I’ve always been conflicted. Committing myself to the 10,000 hours is more than just time invested. For me it means going back to school for a whole new degree that I’m considering (lots of money and relocation involved). But I’m terrified that two years in I’ll be dreadfully bored with it, as always.

    I wonder if it feels like forcing it for INFPs when there could be another alternative. But I see the merit in your post given that I haven’t stumbled across a true solution to date!

    Interesting topic for sure. Only understood by people like us.


  83. Bhavana

    Sep 17, 2016

    12:19 am

    Great article and I could totally relate to it. INFPs can be good at multiple things and I believe that this habit of moving from one passion to the next stems from the fact that we want to make the perfect decision. I understand, as you say, that there isn’t time for that. But the way I see it, why is there a need to stick to one passion and become great at it? What if flitting from passion to passion is a reward in itself? Personally, I would be okay being just good and not great at something if it allows me to pursue multiple passions in life. I know that I sound quite impractical and very idealistic (true to my INFP nature), but as long as I can earn a decent amount of money, enough to look after my basic needs, I’d be happy pursuing varied passions.


  84. Terje Westby

    Oct 26, 2016

    6:08 am

    Wow this is very good information. We’re pretty amazing People. As an INFP I’am Just like you and it feels great. Love to learn new things and have problem to do the same things over and over again. For me it has been dificult growing up in northern Norway. Untill I pasta 25(now 33) I never fit the society and not feels comfortable With those I use to be with. I also had read and write dificult.

    To make the history short. I’ve try many Jobs but never enjoy it for longer than a year. Then I study engineering but only finish halv of the study. During this time I’ve learn that I love learn many things, not only one. I read tons of book learning people skills(it started with the famous “how to win friends and influence”). Then I read about job search and with those skills I got a jobb as a leader of apartment hiering company. Then I read and theach me the stock buying technich to Darvas. I put it to action in the stock market and have made good money on that(I realy recomand you to learn Darvas method. Now I read about buying and selling(house flipping) small apartment. I will soon build a small house andre selling it. Then I can quit my boring job and work with my stock and house fulltime.


  85. Sunny Suman

    Oct 19, 2017

    11:46 pm

    Engineer turned content writer turned recruiter turned facilitator along with an online counsellor; and still searching, though only into various areas of training now. Looking at many experts getting the recognition they get I too wanted to be an expert at something. But sadly, could not hold on to that thing for long! And if I do continue I often can’t hold my focus. Family still wondering what I am doing with my life, and I ask them the same question! Thanks for sharing this piece! Cheers!:)


  86. Siv Ngim

    May 7, 2018

    9:05 am

    Appreciate for the article. you had shown me the way to cope with the issues.


  87. wissam

    May 24, 2018

    5:41 pm

    corin how did the hedgehog concept worked out for you i am a desperate infp who needs help ….
    and i think you have the needed help


    Corin Nguyen Reply:

    I think the idea of that one thing that completes your life and if you find it then everything will make sense isn’t a meaningful use of your time. I don’t ever think the complicated facets of living is ever one thing. I think I’ve found my passion and I know it’s part of my happiness engine – writing this blog is part of it. But I don’t have the hours and or practice yet so I’m not sure if I’ll be great at it. And that’s a hard thing — not knowing — because we it’s uncomfortable not knowing so outcome becomes the sole focus.

    When outcome is the sole focus then drive and motivation ends up hinging on how close or how far you think you’re getting. Often, it’s two steps forward and one step back. Your emotions, your sense of self gets tied to the outcome. Will I find what I’m supposed to be doing? How long will it take me to get there? Who am I unless I do find my this great thing I’m supposed to do? I’m not sure that’s a meaningful way to live.

    Instead I’ve been focusing on the journey and what that entails is focusing on the 3 Meaningful Things we can do with our time.

    1. What emotions we want to feel
    2. Challenges we want to sign up for
    3. Experiences that engage us

    This will be what my next post will about – a different way to viewing your journey through life.


  88. Marcus

    Nov 15, 2019

    6:37 pm

    Interesting read. I’m Entj and can kinda see how a savior FI works in these kinds situations. My challenge is to know my values and apply it into my work.

    This means that the work doesn’t define me but rather I strive to define myself through my experiences and actions. The more I get in touch with my demon FI, the better I feel I can interegrate my “uniqeness” into my business.

    Again, a great read!


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