The INFJ User Guide: Why INFJs Need Purpose in Their Lives & How to Find it
Hi there, Sarah Kuhn here. Welcome to another episode of The Quiet Ones. So this week has been really challenging for me. I'm struggling with a lot, but I've been thinking about how much to share and it's easy to get trapped into thinking that you're the only one who struggles and that no one else will understand, even though I know that's not the case in my head.
So I was just about to the point where I was ready to share, and then I got sick again. That seems to happen to me a lot these days. I have severe asthma, which makes it really hard for me to breathe in general. But then anytime that there's anything else that's obstructing my breathing, even just like a cold with congestion, it makes breathing feel like it's impossible.
But I just want to let you know that you're not alone. If you're going through something and you feel like you're alone or you're struggling please know that you're not alone. I'm right there with you. I'm here for you. Even if I'm not as visible right now. As soon as I get over this recent sickness, which hopefully won't take too long because I've been struggling with it for at least a week now, I'll be back. I swear.
On the podcast
So recently I did a series of videos discussing my book, the INFJ User Guide, and today on the podcast, I want to share with you one of my favorite videos in that series, which is on the chapter about how to find your purpose in life.
People send me questions all the time, and by far, the question that I get asked the most is how to find your purpose in life. I know that it was something that I struggled with a lot, and it was really incredibly life-changing when I finally found my thing. So I hope that this video helps you figure out what your purpose is in life as well.
You can access all of the videos in this series for free by going to https://www.infjwoman.com/bookvideos/. Let's take a listen.
Find your Purpose
We are talking about chapter Eleven of the INFJ User Guide, which is how to Find your Purpose.
If you don't have a copy of it yet, you can get a copy on Amazon. It's available on Kindle and then it's available in the paperback version. Get your copy here: https://www.infjwoman.com/guide/.
INFJs are born with this really deep desire to do something really big and meaningful. We have this amazing way of dreaming really big dreams. But then we also know how to make a plan and go after those dreams. So we don't just want to dream. We want to bring those dreams into reality.
And when we're young, the vast majority of us get this idea in our head that there's, like, one thing that we're supposed to do with the rest of our life, right? It's like, what's my purpose? What's the reason that I'm here on this Earth?
I struggled with that for a long time. I struggled through high school, through College. After I got out of College. Then I went back to College. And then every time I would go to work for a new company, I was still questioning, is this the right job for me? Is this the right company for me? I don't like the people. I don't like the attitude of the company. I don't like the decisions that they make. There were so many times that I felt like this isn't the right thing for me. But I don't know what the right thing is. I don't even know where to start.
I was so lost in College that my mom made me take a career planning course. And basically what it was is 16 weeks of here, try this assessment. Hey, read about this different thing. Here, do this assignment. And I finished it 16 weeks later still confused. I think I had the idea in my head back then that I was going to be an engineer. And at the end of the course, there was this big assessment that you had to take. And it said that I should either be an engineer or trash services collector. And I was like, what? And I remember reading it to my mom. And my mom was like, Well, there needs to be people who collect the trash. And I'm like, Are you serious? That's why I'm spending all this time in College. That's why I spent $70,000 on College so that I could be, like, a trash collector. Really? So obviously this whole course wasted 16 weeks.
I had another one of my struggles was I couldn't figure out what I wanted to major in College. So I changed my major, like, six or seven times. I ended up graduating with a degree that I've never used. I have three-fourths of a degree that I didn't finish. So I have almost three College degrees. I studied with mechanical engineering. I've never used that. I did study business, and I've used some of that. But a lot of the classes that you take in College don't really pertain to what you do day to day. So I was just, like, feeling lost and hopeless. I'm never going to figure out my purpose. There is no way.
And most of the time when I would talk to people about it, a lot of people didn't get it. They were like, well, you should just pick something where you can make a lot of money at it. And my mom kept encouraging me, my mom is a nurse. And so she kept telling me you should go into nursing, because then you can always find a job. And I'm like, yeah, but you have to stick people with needles and deal with blood and stuff. And, no, that's not going to work. I don't do that. I was just like, I could never be a nurse. I don't want to do anything like that. I don't care how much money that you make that won't work for me.
So I just struggled so much with it that it was like, I just felt lost and hopeless for a long time. And then there was also this idea of my dad used to tell me, well, both of my parents used to tell me you have to work at a job that you hate for most of your life so that you can pay for the things that you want to do. And I'm like, that's incredibly ridiculous. Even when I was in high school, I remember having this conversation with my dad because I was like, Why would you spend the majority of your time every single day, every single week, for the rest of your life working in a job that you hate? That's, like the majority of your time.
No wonder people die early because they get stuck working at these terrible jobs. Like, surely there has to be an option for a job that you like, right? And my dad's like, I don't know. I've never found one. I've hated all of the jobs that I've ever had, and I just accepted that. That's how it was. And my mom's like, yeah, I've hated all of my jobs, too. You're not giving me a lot of hope, but maybe I can find somebody who likes their job and then ask them questions and see if maybe that's even a possibility.
My hope and my dream
But my parents also don't understand this need that I had of having a bigger purpose, like, there has to be a higher calling, almost like, I want to help people somehow. But I just didn't know what's the thing for me and what I realized years later, I just realized it was a couple of years ago, and I'm 35 now. When I was in high school and college and then early in my working years, I just had this idea. There has to be one thing that I'm supposed to do, right? It has to be my hope and my dream. It has to give me meaning, make my life worth living. It has to be some way that I can help people. It has to be something that I want to do every single day, and it needs to pay for my rather expensive way of living. It has to pay for my student loans. It has to give me some kind of status in this world. And it has to be, like, the whole reason that I'm born. And once you write all of that out and you look at it, it's like, wow, that's a lot to ask of a job, right? You wouldn't ask all of those things of one person. So why do we think that we just have this one job that's going to fulfill pretty much every single area of our lives? And who says that it has to be one thing?
I heard this stat that somebody told me, I think somebody was on my podcast told me that millennials will have nine different careers in their lifetime. That's not jobs. That's careers. I think I'm probably up to, like, five or six different careers, and I'm only 35. So I believe it 100%. And like I said, I had three different majors in College. So there are potentially three different careers that I could have done right there.
You don't have to have one job
But I guess the biggest realization for me was you don't have to have one job in your lifetime. You don't have to have one career. You don't even have to have one purpose.
I think that we get lied to is the problem. We are told something by our parents, not that they intentionally lie to us. It's just that they have this belief that they were told by their parents and they were told by their parents. And the thing is that it doesn't really get updated because our grandparents probably did have one career for their whole life. Some of them maybe even worked for one company. My grandpa worked for Cessna for 25 years. I don't know how many other jobs that he had. I don't think very many. But then he retired from Cessna, and that was it.
But my grandpa believed that you work for one place, right? You have one career. My dad believed that, too. And so that's what he told me. And he never said or learned that, may not be the case for you. Things are changing. Businesses operate differently now. And even just over the last couple of years, the way that businesses have operated has changed immensely. People not wanting to work in the office, companies giving employees the option of working from home. I mean, that was never a thing that my grandpa had even thought about, and that was never anything that my dad thought about either. I didn't really think that it was possible, certainly not for the company that I worked for now, I didn't think it would be possible for me to do that now. And if it wasn't for COVID, then it wouldn't have happened. But COVID has changed so much.
But these things that we get told by our parents that their parents told them they don't get updated because it's a belief that you have that you've just always had and you don't really put a whole lot of research into it, right? So when you think about your purpose, it's important to realize that you may not just have one purpose over the whole course of your life. There could be several different jobs that you can do. There could be several different careers that you have, and there could also be several different things that contribute to your purpose. Your job doesn't necessarily have to be your purpose.
Maybe part of your purpose is volunteer work that you do. Maybe part of your purpose revolves around your family or the community that you live in. It doesn't have to be just one thing. And I think that when you think about it that way, it takes a lot of the pressure off of finding something that's perfect, because when you think, okay, this job that I'm getting or that I'm doing right now, it doesn't have to be the thing for the rest of my life. It can just be the thing that I'm doing right now, right? It can be the thing that's going to get me to the next thing that letting go of those expectations, it changes everything.
You also need to ask yourself instead of saying, what should I do? Because there's a lot of expectations around what should I do? What's the right thing to do? But when you let go of that should, then you open up the possibility to say, what can I do? What do I want to do? What sounds good right now? What feels good right now?
It's easy to say that, though, right? Because a lot of us have expectations from our parents, maybe from our grandparents, probably expectations of ourselves as well, of what I should do, what's the responsible thing to do? What's the right thing to do?
The responsible one
That was another trap that I fell into, too. I have three siblings, and I'm the responsible one. That's always been my label. That's always been my thing. I do the right thing. I do the thing that my parents want me to do. That's always been the way it's been. I was the good child who really didn't have that much of a rebellious stage. The way that I rebelled was I moved 1000 miles away from my family, and they were shocked that I actually did it because I didn't think that I was going to do it. But I had a job and I had my own apartment, and I think I was like 25 years old. So it was time.
But there was a lot of expectations around what should you do? What's the right thing to do? And I think that's what tripped me up a lot when I was in school because I thought there was just one right answer. But when you let go of the should and you let go of thinking that there is a right answer, everything changes.
We learn in school that there's a right answer, and there's a wrong answer, right. And sometimes that's true. Obviously, when you go to the grocery store and you pay them with cash and they give you change back, there is a right and a wrong answer to how much change you should get back. There is a right and a wrong answer to that.
But when you're talking about other things, like what kind of job should you have, there isn't a right or wrong answer. There are a lot of different things that you can do, and there's a lot of different ways now to accomplish things than what there used to be. So letting go of those expectations, questioning the beliefs that you've always had is a big first step.
The second step is to explore. You may have this idea in your head of what you want to do or what you think you should do or what your parents thought that you should do. And it's probably something that you're really attached to, and it's difficult when you're so attached to an idea, it's difficult to think about anything else.
When I was in high school, I loved race cars, and I wanted to work around race cars because I thought it would be so much fun. That was my reasoning with my dad because my dad told me the story. You have to hate your job. That's just part of life. You hate your job. So you get money so that you can do the things that you want to do. And I was like, no, that doesn't work for me. I want to love my job. And my dad's like, that's never going to happen. So I'm like, okay, well, since you said I can't do it, then I'm definitely going to do it. I'm going to do it twice and take pictures.
So I loved race cars, but I didn't want to be, like, a race car driver because I hate driving. But I was like, I want to do something around race cars. So what can I do? And I always loved math and algebra when I was in College. And so my dad's like, Well, you can be an engineer. And I'm like, oh, cool. Because that has math, and you have to have a College degree, and that's, like, a prestigious thing to do. And you could make quite a bit of money. So, yeah, that sounds great. I'll do that.
I started engineering school in College, and then it got really, really difficult. And I was like, I don't know if this is the thing. I don't know. And my mom was like, well, a lot of girls really aren't engineers, and that's going to be really difficult. And what are you going to do when it gets difficult? And I'm like, I don't know, it's really difficult. And she's like, Well, you should major in business because business is so much better, and you would be really good at business. And I was like, no, I really want to be an engineer.
And so what happened was I was so attached to being an engineer that I couldn't let it go. So I ended up changing my major to criminal justice because it wasn't engineering. But it wasn't business. And then I graduated with that degree. And then I decided to go back to school and finish my engineering degree because I was going to be an engineer. I couldn't see anything else, even though I didn't really like it. I was so attached to the idea.
And once I really even decided that I didn't want to do it, I couldn't tell anybody because I was so embarrassed here. I'd been telling them at that point for six or eight years that I was going to be an engineer, and I'd been bragging about it and telling them how much smarter that I was than them. It was my way of proving my worth and proving how smart I was by saying, Well, of course I'm smart. I'm an engineer. You can't question how smart I am. I'm going to be an engineer. I'm studying physics, but not regular physics, like physics for mathematicians and engineers. I'm taking thermodynamics and regular dynamics. You've never done this. Of course I'm smart. I'm way smarter than you are.
And so after that, don't want to tell people that I can't do it or that I don't want to do it anymore. Like that would be me saying that I'm not that smart. That would be me saying that I made a mistake, and then I would have to go back to I don't know what I want to do. And so I struggled with that for a couple of years just because I didn't want to admit that that wasn't the thing for me back then.
I really never even thought about being a writer because number one, I was so attached to being an engineer. And I was also terrible at English. I'm still terrible at English. When I was in grade school, I was terrible at spelling. When I was in high school, I home schooled through part of high school, and my mom made me take spelling. It's only required for eight years, or it used to be required for eight years. But my mom was like, no, you have to take spelling for all the twelve years because you're terrible at spelling, and I'm like, Well, if I'm terrible for eight years, what makes you think I'm going to be better, like, four more years? I think if you're terrible, you're just terrible. It really doesn't get a whole lot better, which is true. It's never gotten better. I still am terrible at spelling. The technology has gotten better, though, so that's been good for me.
But I was so attached to that idea that I'm going to be an engineer that I couldn't see anything else. So when you're looking at finding your purpose, you have to let go of the expectations. But then the second thing is you have to explore other ideas. Think about what you like to do. Don't just think about what people tell you. Think about what are you good at? If somebody asked me that I would be like, Well, I'm good at math. That's why I want to be an engineer. I never would have said I'm good at spelling or I'm good at English. I'm terrible at those things, right? So of course, if you're terrible, then why would you want to be a writer? But that's actually what I love doing more than I've loved anything else. And it doesn't matter that I'm terrible at it because you can be terrible at something and still have a lot of joy in it. And it still be one of the best things that you've ever done.
And you get better, right? And sometimes the things that you're terrible at. There's a reason when I was thinking about writing a blog, I wanted it to be perfect, right? And so I was stressing about is there a way that I can have somebody proofread my sentences and make sure that everything's perfect?
And then I started thinking about the blogs that I like to read, and one of them that I love to read, that was my favorite was written by Glenn Doyle. Her blog is called Momastery. I was reading it back in, like, 2015, when she talked about depression and eating disorders and anxiety a lot. And when I was reading her blog one time, I was looking at it going, she does not have complete sentences, and she makes up words. So why am I so worried about spelling? Why am I so worried about if all of my sentences are, like, grammatically perfect? The blog that I like is somebody who literally makes up words, and that's what makes it so great. That's why I love reading what she writes because it's not perfect.
So I was like, Well, if that's what I like, then surely other people are going to like that, too. And maybe I can inspire somebody to start writing, too. So there might be a reason that the thing that you like to do, it doesn't have to be the thing that you're good at. It's important to explore other things.
What does the world need?
Think about what's missing. Is there a way that you can change something? Like, what does the world need? It helps to detach yourself from it. So if you think about, like, what can I contribute to the world, then you're like, I don't know. I don't really have a lot that I can contribute, right? But if you think about it from a different perspective, like, what does the world need? Then all of a sudden you have all these ideas like, oh, I can tell you 100 different ways that you can fix the world. I can tell you how you can fix politics. I can tell you how you can fix the news. I can tell you how you can fix the way that the roads are. I could tell you how to fix the grocery store. There are thousands of different things that I can tell you that the world needs. So when you turn it around that way, rather than saying, what am I good at? There are tons of other questions, other ways that you can think about. That where you could come up with something that you can do that you might actually really love.
One of the reasons that I decided to write a blog about INFJs was because I knew that I wanted to write, and I had started writing, like, six or eight blogs, and none of them had ever worked. I hadn't stuck with any of them. But I found out my personality type, and I had been reading up on it for a couple of years, and it kind of frustrated me a lot because some of the information out there about INFJs is contradictory, and I could tell that some of it was written by an INFJ, and some of it was written based on a theory of how an INFJ should act. And that's why it was contradictory, because some of it was lived experience, and some of it was, oh, I think this is how it should go. There was only like, three or four sites, three or four websites or blogs that had information.
And I was like, Well, I want to know more than what's there and are there other INFJs? And how do you connect with those people? It seems like there's something missing here. Maybe there could be a better resource for INFJs. Maybe there could be one place that was like, hey, here's all the things that you need to know. And then that was where I had this idea. I was like, maybe I could write a blog about INFJs because I want to write, and it seems like there's this place that's missing something. Maybe I could write about that. So that's how I came up with the idea. And that's like where it all started. I knew that figuring out my personality type had helped me so much. So I thought, Well, maybe there's, like, one other person out there that could benefit from this information.
I had no idea that there would be 60,000 people or more, which is amazing. It's so touching and so humbling to know that there are so many people out there who are like me and who benefit from my blog and my social media. Everything that I share is stuff that's helped me. So it's nice to know that I'm not the only one for sure.
So that's the second thing is really to explore different things because you never know what's going to be the thing. I was talking when we first started about a free workbook that I have. The workbook has some exercises where you can go through different time periods of your life. Get your free workbook here: https://www.infjwoman.com/findyourpurpose/.
One of them is that you go through the last ten years of your life and you write down all the things that were incredibly painful, not physically painful, but emotionally painful. So I'm 35 right now. So if I were doing it, I would go from, like, 25 to 35 and just make a list of all the things over the last ten years that were really painful and then do that for the previous ten years, too. So, like, from 15 to 25. And when you look at it in those time frames, I bet that you'll see some things that are really surprising for you.
When I did the exercise, I found that I was fired from two jobs and laid off from three jobs in the space of, like, ten years. And I was kind of shocked because me getting fired wasn't my fault either time. But I didn't realize, like, I had had so much insecurity over my job. I knew that there was a lot. But you don't really sit around and think about that every single day. And then there were some other things that just kind of piled up quite a bit. And you don't think about it, right? Until you sit down and you start writing each one of them down and you're like, I need another piece of paper because there are so many things that were really painful.
And then you go through and you look at each one of those things and you write down like, what was the most painful part. And this exercise will help you to narrow down, how can you help the world, right? How can you help other people? You've gone through some really painful things in your life, but you've made it through those things. You've figured out the best way to get through those things.
One of the most painful things for me was being misunderstood, feeling like nobody out there understood me feeling like I didn't really even understand myself, which was another reason that I settled on personality types because I wanted to help other people understand themselves. That was a problem that I had. There was really big emotional pain for me. And I knew that I had gotten through that. And I knew there was a lot of information that I had that I could help other people get through the same situation. And so I thought, okay, maybe this is my purpose. Maybe this is what I'm supposed to do right now.
And the next thing, which is always the hardest step. A lot of people focus on what's my purpose, right? But that's not really even the hardest step. People get stuck there because they can't make a decision. But the hardest thing is taking action, right? Because it's easy to look through your life and say, okay, there's two or three things that were really painful for me. I've lost quite a few jobs. I've been in desperate situations for money. I've suffered a lot of rejection in my life. I've suffered a lot of misunderstanding in my life, too. So you come up with, like, three or four things and you're like, that was really rough. I don't know how I got through that. And you think about, okay, what's the thing that seems the most interesting to me? Well, all right. I can help people with their personality types. There's a lot of information that I have that I can share.
And then you get stuck there because you don't know what to do next or you feel like, Well, who am I? Who am I to tell people about their personality types? I don't know everything about personality types. So how am I supposed to help people? Because I'm not an expert. I don't have any credentials. Yeah, I spent ten years in College, but none of that applies to this. So then you start thinking about, like, okay, I need training. I need to go back to school. But you don't really need to go back to school, because if you're like me, you've already spent almost $100,000 on school, and it didn't really help that much. And you've solved your own problems without any of the school. You didn't even use anything that you learned in school to solve your own problems. So why would you need to go back to school?
Maybe the thing that you need to do is to just start. If it's writing a blog that you want to do, you need to just start writing the blog, even if you're terrible at spelling, even if you don't know how to set up a website, even if you're not really even entirely sure on how to post a new post.
One of the great things that I found, you can learn so much on YouTube. I've joined a lot of Facebook groups, too. And what's funny to me is that people will type something in a Facebook group, like, asking a question. And I'm like, if you just want to type that into Google, you could have found the answer. If you would have typed it into YouTube, you could have found the answer, right? If you really wanted the answer, you wouldn't have to talk to, like, 100 people about it. You could just go ask Google or YouTube, and they would tell you the answer.
If you want to know how to set up a WordPress site, WordPress will tell you how to set it up. But if you really get stuck, YouTube will tell you how to set it up. They're like millions of people who tell you, like, who make videos. That's what they do. That's how they make money by telling you how to set up your WordPress site.
So the reason that a lot of people get stuck is imposter syndrome. They feel like, who am I? Who am I to do this? What if somebody tells me one of my greatest fears when I started writing my blog? What if somebody says, who are you to write this? You're such a fraud. Like you're a terrible person. Who are you to even say this? You don't know what you're talking about. Thankfully, that didn't happen to me early on.
We are what? Almost three years. I started in December of 2018. So almost three years into this. And it wasn't until the last three or four months that people started saying that kind of stuff. And they're like teenagers who are just angry at life and have decided to pick on somebody, and they decided to pick on me. They create these whole Instagram accounts that are like, hate accounts. And the whole thing is like they're creating an account just to hate my account. It's kind of funny. I mean, it's like, really, you don't have anything better to do with your time? There isn't some way that you could help people. I guess not.
But the thing is, though, that was my biggest fear, and I made it through that, and it was bad. It's not fun dealing with people like that, but it wasn't like, life threatening. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought that it was. It wasn't something that I couldn't make it through. We always build that kind of stuff up in our mind like, this is the worst thing, and it will never be okay. If somebody calls me a fraud, I won't be able to make it. And that'll just be like, the end of everything.
But what does it even matter if they call you a fraud? If somebody walking down the street called you a fraud, would you quit your whole life because of that? Like you don't even know that person. Who is that person? They don't know you. How do they know that you're a fraud? How do they know that you're not like the expert? They don't know. They just think that they know.
It's one of the terrible things about social media, though, is that people get really brave when they're behind a keyboard and they don't have to answer for the stuff that they say. They don't have to say it to your face. They're just saying it. They're just typing it on their phone. And they also know that you're limited in the replies that you can make because it's a business, right? And you want to have a certain professional type of front. And you know, the first thing that they're going to do is screenshot stuff, so you can't just type back some snarky reply like you really want to say. You just kind of have to let it go. It's just how it is.
All right. So that's what I have for chapter Eleven. I guess it was on how to Find Your Purpose. Like I said, I have a free guide that's called Find Your Purpose Workbook. If you're interested in getting this guide, you can go to https://www.infjwoman.com/findyourpurpose/ to get it and it's totally free. There are several exercises in there, the one that I explained. It's explained a lot better in the workbook, and I think there are two or three other exercises as well. So if that one doesn't resonate with you, if you don't find something that works for you with that one, then there are a couple of other things that you can go with there, too.