Help an ENTP narrow down their career path choices....
January 9, 2012 1:43 AM   Subscribe

In the last couple months I've come to realize that I am not alone. My personality is my problem and it is what has made this post-college thing so hard on me. ENTPs are sort of visionaries who can be the best and innovate and succeed at anything we put our heart to but we get bored very easily if we aren't socially, creatively satisfied and doing some "analysis" or "innovation" or "problem solving". We also don't take well to being "told what to do". (Sort of like a cross between Steve Jobs (visionary, creative, secretly self-obsessed) Calvin (from the comic), Jack Sparrow, The Joker, and Wile E. Coyote. )

All of these have their "downsides" or "impossibilities" associated with them but they are all things I can see myself being fairly happy doing...some more than others....

novelist
futures/equities(stock) trader
innovation/strategy consultant
venture capitalist
film editor
relationship/seduction coach
bounty hunter/surety recovery agent
also i want to learn sign language at some point
architect (designing cool houses)
semipro poker
overseas english teacher
publisher/editor/literary agent
entrepreneur
marketing/branding
bartending (good way to pass the time)
restaurant/bar/club owner
travel journalist
lawyer (don’t want to be a lawyer but i would kick ass at it)

Anyways, how do you go about narrowing this list down?
posted by sawyerrrr to Work & Money (69 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
First, work out where you would like your life to be in 10/20/30 years time.

Do you want a family? To live in a specific place? To be able to move frequently and live around the world? To live in the country? To have a large house? To have lots of spare time for hobbies?

Cross off the things on your list that are not compatible with whatever goals you decide you have. This may require some research.

Then try the remaining options systematically, throwing everything at each one until you decide it's a permanent gig, or you move on to the next one.
posted by emilyw at 1:53 AM on January 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Since your list is already quite long I'd start by taking off anything you don't want to do. So cross off lawyer.

Then divide it into categories like "ambitious", "reasonably likely" and "sure bet". For example, novelist and semipro poker go in the ambitious category. It is unlikely that the average person (or even above average person!) could make a living at those, and certainly not right away. Bartender goes in the "sure bet" category. You could probably get work tending bar right away if you walked into all the bars in town tomorrow. Maybe some of the other jobs go in that category. Overseas English teacher probably too, if you are open to working anywhere for any company.

Then pick something from the sure bet category to earn a wage at for now. Pick something from the mid range category to start doing some training towards or looking for openings. Pick something from the ambitious category and start doing it as a hobby on the side, and see if you like it enough to throw your whole life in that direction one day.
posted by lollusc at 1:54 AM on January 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


Go overseas, buy a little beach bar and teach english out of it. You can play online poker and write novels on days off.
posted by mannequito at 2:31 AM on January 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


No offense dude, but do you actually know anything at all about half those jobs you list? Daydreams are great and all but you need at least a grain of reality to build from. Half of those jobs have significant barriers to entry (venture capitalist - Are you a millionaire? Novelist - Do you have an agent? "Seduction Coach" - do you know anything about this outside what you saw in the movie Hitch?).

I think a great start to this list would be writing what's preventing you from doing any of these things, tomorrow and then looking at the cost-benefit ratio of getting to the "Start Tomorrow" phase. In some cases it will be a degree, in some cases experience, money, location etc. Really assess what it will take to do these things, and if you're not really sure, find out how to find out.

Secondly, figure out what - aside from general brilliance - would make the people who hire for these jobs pick you over the other people that have been working towards it before, during and after college. They are competitive, and they will want the jobs just as much as you with just as much talent. In some cases, it won't take much (bartender, o/s english as long as you're not totally insane), and some cases it will take a lot.

To help with the list, I've got some bad news, homes. Hard work is hard work and it doesn't if you're a bartender or a bounty hunter; people who succeed in their fields work hard and give up a lot of other things that you might not want to give up. There is no shame in prioritising having a family, not being broke, being able to travel, owning your own home - whatever - over success. You gotta do what makes you happy, and what makes you happy may not be being the best, or having the zaniest job, etc.

Finally, I read in your post something that I think of as "the potential trap". I think this is a result of middle class education environments. Don't fall into the potential trap! The world is full of people who can be incredible at anything they put their minds to, could have been such-and-such, really talented this-and-that, and they are pumping gas, standing behind counters, on unemployment. In real life - outside of school - people care nothing for potential. Reliable, persistent mediocrity will beat potential any day of the week, and I don't just mean boring corporate jobs; it's just as true in the arts and many other sectors. Stop thinking on what you could be, and start thinking about what you are, and how you can build on that to make yourself happy, and it'd be nice if you helped someone else while you were doing it. Good luck.
posted by smoke at 2:44 AM on January 9, 2012 [143 favorites]


Do you actually have the self-discipline and patience to undertake the long professional schooling and professional apprenticeship that something like architecture requires? From your self-description, I'd bet that the answer is probably "no". If I'm right, and I apologize for being sort of mean sounding about this, then you may as well cross that one off.
posted by thelonius at 2:49 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You need to stop worrying so much over this, and actually go and get a job. It doesn't matter what you do, I believe you just need to get out there and do anything. Here's some other advice:

1) You come over as pretty self obsessed. You need to start thinking about other people. If you're not doing anything at the moment and you're having trouble finding work then volunteer for something. The world is about more than just you.

2) You've shown no indication in your posting history that you can finish things you start. You need to work on that. You don't need the perfect job. You just need any job and a commitment towards self-control. All jobs end up shitty if you do them long enough, and you're not going to stave off ennui by constantly fretting if you should be an astronaut or a pirate when you grow up.

3) That ENTP stuff isn't helpful. You're no more special than anyone else. You don't get to be Steve Jobs by imagining you're like Steve Jobs. Get over yourself.

That may all seem harsh, but I say this to you out of concern. You've probably got a lot to offer this world of ours, but it starts with you stepping away from your thoughts, doing things and finishing them.
posted by seanyboy at 3:09 AM on January 9, 2012 [30 favorites]


On the subject of being an ENTP. A cursory glance at definitions of ENTP's on the internets suggests to me that the Forer Effect is in full force in those definitions. I don't think this self-definition is useful, and I'm tempted to believe that it's actually a little bit harmful.
posted by seanyboy at 3:14 AM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am also convinced that Myers-Briggs is probably harmful in defining who you are as a person. My advice in your situation is decide to decide to do something worth finishing and then work at it.
posted by Brent Parker at 3:25 AM on January 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


Your self-description screams Forer Effect. Everyone, when feeling good about themselves, thinks they are "visionaries who can be the best and innovate and succeed at anything we put our heart to but we get bored very easily if we aren't socially, creatively satisfied."
posted by phrontist at 3:25 AM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am also convinced that Myers-Briggs is probably harmful in defining who you are as a person.

Myers Briggs types change with the mood you're in, or the number of drinks you've had.

If you want to be a novelist (first on your list so I guess that's important), then check the blue for one of plotto's plots and start writing. Ensure actual talent, find an agent and prepared to work really hard for a really long time for no money.

A novelist straight out of college? - unless you have a story really worth telling, or have John Kennedy Toole talent, then you might need some life experience.

Nothing's stopping you from leaning sign language though, you can practice seducing people while working the bar.
posted by the noob at 3:40 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a person who works in film, I can say that to be a film editor, you actually have to be really good at being told what to do. Unless you are producing directing and editing the entire project by yourself, your work will be a synthesis of everyone's vision, and hopefully a bit of your own. Working in film takes a lot of flexibility, and a willingness to abandon your own ideas when they are in conflict with those of people further up the production chain than you. It might be really frustrating for a person who doesn't want to be told what to do.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:47 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Agreeing with Brent Parker

Also, yes, you are not alone. That means you are not unique and your interests align with possibly millions of people who occasionally have the same spark as you do. I think the toughest part of being extroverted is being prepared for the punishment of developing a project toward fruition, especially if you have taken over work from someone else. In your case, you may be aware enough of the need for personal success that you have a one good idea in that half-hashed Document folder worth turning into something really good that you can say is yours. If you fail, you failed at doing something, which is a positive and worth talking about why you failed with creative, potentially satisfying people who might be able to help you get it back on track. These people are called partners. You probably still fear asking for help but it's important to ask if you think help is really necessary and warranted. Be prepared to give back something (cookies are always welcome).

The delicate problem with all of these career choices you make is that you have the potential to become rich and famous only if you do something extraordinary. Most of these options will take a very long time to get started into fame and fortune. Your best bet is your own ability to do work to completion.
posted by parmanparman at 3:50 AM on January 9, 2012


Have you ever had a job?

Narrow down the list to the job that you can get now...which would be bartender. Give it a try! The restaurant industry can be a very fun and productive way to earn a living when you're young and a bit of a lost soul.
posted by emd3737 at 4:05 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have a degree? Use those innovation skills you have to really help people. Join the Peace Corps.

You will have much better bartender stories to tell if you do.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:10 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think, reading your list, you need to focus on what you're going to be willing to work for, and not just fall into the cool stuff. For example, the following is a revision of your list based on the first couple of years toward your goal (based on your previous question on your shitty GPA):

novelist writing your first, likely shitty, novel
futures/equities(stock) trader Several intensive finance courses and low-level grunt work for a firm
innovation/strategy consultant an MBA and several years working as an analyst with next to no decision making
venture capitalist an MBA and several years experience as an analyst
film editor film school and several years as an assistant
relationship/seduction coach professional designation or a very cool and successful backstory
bounty hunter/surety recovery agent several years of lean work as an up and coming bounty hunter with no reputation
also i want to learn sign language at some point
architect (designing cool houses) Very difficult to get into school, followed by grunt assistant work
semipro poker Several years of honing your skill, patience to build up a bank roll
overseas english teacherThis you can probably do now
publisher/editor/literary agent several years of editing, likely freelance, followed by working your way up a company in a dying industry
entrepreneur this is not a job, this is what you are when you develop an idea
marketing/branding some credentials, a portfolio of clients, or working a ton of hours for shitty pay at an agency
bartending (good way to pass the time) years of backbreaking labour, moderately good money
restaurant/bar/club owner several million dollars, a good idea, and developing the skills to do so from the previous position
travel journalist journalism school and several years as a non-travelling journalist
lawyer (don’t want to be a lawyer but i would kick ass at it) three years of law school, articling, the bar exam and then working grunt work for a firm


Point is, the only things you can really do in the short term are sign up for an education stream of some kind, start as a bar back or teach english overseas. If you look at the actual work involved, and not just the "sounds cool from the outside" part of the job, you come to realize that there are probably 10 years of crap work ahead of you from any of these positions, which by the way your personality type won't exempt you from.

There are plenty of ENTPs out there (you're talking to one) who've harnessed their personality and are out there doing cool stuff. It sounds like you need to grow up a little and recognize that simple ability gets you nowhere in life anymore; things are too competitive.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:16 AM on January 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


Oh, dear...Myers - Briggs Obsession!

I am seconding the noob...I had to take several MBTIs as part of a professional degree: they change every time you take them. THe excessive value placed on this test comes from HR consultants' obsession with the practices of McKinsey, who (at least at one point) used the MBTI pretty heavily. You are not inherently an ENTP or anything else.

Adding each of the following to the rapidly-developing list of careers that seem to require more training and direction than you've got now or are willing to undertake:

futures/equities(stock) trader (highly competitive, many/most have business degrees and MBAs)
innovation/strategy consultant (Requires experience in the area of specialism and usually an MBA, with great grades throughout - these roles are highly competitive)
venture capitalist (as above, plus usually have to have been wildly successful in some other part of the business world if you want to actually 'be a VC' rather than working for one)
posted by Wylla at 4:23 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm an INFP on the MBTI and the job I currently have (and have been doing very successfully for the past four years) is about as far from the profile examples for my type as you can imagine. I've ridden the 'this is just not me!' roller coaster since grad school, for the twelve years I've been in full-time employment. I can honestly say only one job was anywhere near perfectly fitting my temperament but that had mad downsides in pay, location and co-workers so I moved on. Yes, it does occasionally distress me that I'm not employed to lie in a field of daisies THINKING BIG THOUGHTS all day, but does afford the funds and downtime to think those thoughts without stressing over rent.

Don't get so hung up on 'potential' that you never do anything real. If you're easily bored don't ask 'What should I be?', but 'What can I contribute?'. I'm by nature a generalist and I skew towards learning and information dissemination, so rather than picking a specific profession I've gone for transferable skills in communications. I'm happiest doing this in arts/museums/heritage environments but it doesn't stop me working in other places. Jobs that would make me miserable would involve sales, engineering, social work or direct activism - but I can still work for organisations that do those things if need be because I have strong skills and experience in supporting areas (web content, communications, writing etc). On the whole I've done well everywhere I've worked, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed the work itself - in spite of being a touchy-feely, creative introvert! The biggest shock was learning that 99% of success is seeing a task through with good hunmour (hint - this doesn't have to mean doing all the work yourself).

And if you can't pick a profession don't worry - many of us are like that. You really don't need to map it all out right now. If you're fresh out of college bar work is great for giving you day time volunteering time to explore other areas. There's an awful lot to be said about getting experienced at something, anything, and seeing where it takes you.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:26 AM on January 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ack, typo! Hunmour = humour.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:29 AM on January 9, 2012


I agree completely with seanyboy, and I think you may be missing how much teamwork is involved in most jobs - being told what to do, handling basic boring tasks and carrying things through to completion. Designing cool houses is a tiny part of what an architect does, and the boring, attention-to-detail aspect is the vital bit.

Even more than that, though, entry-level jobs aren't about being Steve Jobs (or Howard Roark, Stefan Sagmeister or Don Draper), but turning up on time and being able to listen and learn. Nobody is worried about you being bored.
posted by carbide at 4:32 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's much harder figuring out what you want to do if you have never actually done anything. So, go do something. If you want to try teaching English, join the Peace Corps--that helped a lot of people I know sort out what they wanted from life (even if it was just "never to live without running water again," that's a start). There is a long waiting period so get another job you can stand in the meanwhile.

You're right that you're not alone. Everyone has trouble with this phase of their lives. Most of the folks on this thread have been there. So listen to them.
posted by chaiminda at 4:45 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know why you guys are so critical of the ENTP thing. I've read all of the other MBTI personality types. The only thing that comes close is INTP or ENFP. The stuff I have read about ENTP's is dead on for me. It is the only reason I have been able to understand what I am going to need from a career without wanting to commit suicide within 5 years of working.

So let's keep the MBTI bashing to a minimum, it doesn't really add much to the discourse.

If you're not an ENTP you may not understand. And I think we are commonly accused of being "lazy" or "jaded" or "hard to excite/motivate". This isn't a Generation X thing as much as it is a fact of my personality. My intelligence scales with my interest in what I am doing. I can be the dumbest, least motivated, most introverted, bored person in an assembly of Community College students or the brightest, most motivated, most extroverted, and the strongest leader in a room of top Ivy Leaguers. I have lived with this issue my whole life. To add to this dilemma, once I feel that the creative aspect of a story/project/class/problem/etc is done, then I'm back to being an absolutely worthless.

Grunt work does not bother me if I know it will pay off.

Alright what I agree with so far....

entrepreneur - i have the capital (via my dad) and the skillset to be successful here, i lack a business/product/service....but this is still possible

overseas english teacher - this i can do now...it's sort of a back up plan..

futures/equities(stock) trader - this could work, i have the right degree, have some experience. the question is whether i will be socially satisfied staring at a computer all day. my dad has some connections with pit traders though so its not out of the realm of possibility...


semipro poker - already consistently make money doing this, would only need to ask my dad for capital to make a living from it...


And now the stuff I can't do right now...

novelist - would help to have more life experience, can put this on the backburner for now, always been a very strong creative writer, never practice, not like the talent will go away, but i heard you get less creative with age.

innovation/strategy consultant - seems like this is something I could -really- excel at, seems like a dream job, we'll keep it in the dream job category since I don't have the degree or background for it

venture capitalist - wasn't that motivated about this. barriers to entry seem too high anyways.

film editor i resent the fact that one would have to get a film degree to learn how to do this. i think i'll file this under hobbyism that might turn into something more in the future. it's not really my calling.

relationship/seduction coach this i'll give time as well, who wants advice from a 22 year old anyway. i'm fairly certain i would do very well here and the barriers to entry are very low for me. i have no idea what the one guy was talking about by "professional certification"

bounty hunter/surety recovery agent - i think this is the most underrated job in terms of it's sheer difficulty in getting started. far more difficult than most jobs....i cant really see myself doing this for a living even though it seems awesome and incorporates everything im looking for.

also i want to learn sign language at some point, and german, and french...I think I need to pick one first and learn it well....this is hobby status....

architect (designing cool houses) - would require a new degree, years of grunt work, and the possibility that im left designing stupid shit and not paying well, i'm going to go ahead and veto this, it was a bad idea...

restaurant/bar/club - high outlay (my dad would have to pay) probably best to show him i can perform well at a job before i ask for this kind of help
posted by sawyerrrr at 5:13 AM on January 9, 2012


Now that you've winnowed it down, sounds like it's time to go talk to dad.
posted by Brent Parker at 5:22 AM on January 9, 2012 [20 favorites]


Personality typing is pseudoscientific bullshit. No test can tell you what will make you happy. People don't fall into neat occupation-defining categories like that. Most of your preferred professions didn't exist 100 years ago and most won't exist 100 years from now. Figure out what, specifically, *you* care about in this world, the changes you'd like to effect, the lives you'd like to touch, the ambitions you can *realistically* reach ("novelist" is like saying "rock star," unless you are a very special snowflake indeed). Get out of your own head and the tendency to objectify yourself as a type. It never leads anywhere.
posted by spitbull at 5:30 AM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't know why you guys are so critical of the ENTP thing. I've read all of the other MBTI personality types. The only thing that comes close is INTP or ENFP. [...]

I think the point is being missed here. Your question implies that you are assuming that this 'personality type' is some inherent, unchanging part of your identity that the test has uncovered...and several of us are pointing out to you that this is not a proper use of an inherently unreliable test. If you've read really usefu descriptions of, or advice for, people who get an ENTP score on an MBTI, then go ahead and use those descriptions or advice. It will hurt you in the long run, though, if you assume that you can't adapt or change or if you rule out options that aren't "right for ENTPs", since there's no evidence whatsoever that MBTI results are 'real' or unchanging.

In particular, going into the workforce assuming that you'll be bored easily or that you've got inherent creative genius doesn't seem like a helpful strategy.

If you're not an ENTP you may not understand.

What if I was (from memory) an ENTP once, an ESTJ once, an INFJ once (I think?) and I forget the two other results? As I said, if the advice is useful to you, use it, but I think what several of us are saying is not to limit yourself because of it. The results are likely to change the next time you take the test.

Seconding Brent Parker - if your dad is essentially going to be employing or financing you, talk to your dad before making any choices.
posted by Wylla at 5:31 AM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're not an ENTP you may not understand. And I think we are commonly accused of being "lazy" or "jaded" or "hard to excite/motivate".

Putting any questions about the validity of the MBTI aside, I too always score as an ENTP and the capsule description fits me pretty well.

My intelligence scales with my interest in what I am doing... To add to this dilemma, once I feel that the creative aspect of a story/project/class/problem/etc is done, then I'm back to being an absolutely worthless.

Don't let yourself settle for "I just can't keep working on something once the creative part is done." I am a scientist, which is one of those standard ENTP careers and one for which I do indeed feel I'm temperamentally well-suited for. And just like you, I get excited and work non-stop when I'm working something out that's really new, and then feel substantially less motivated about checking the details and writing it up once the "creative" part of the work is done. And you know what I would be if I actually DIDN'T write it up? Lazy.

I understand where you're coming from -- I'm sure I too would feel unfulfilled in a job that didn't offer a lot of autonomy and space for creativity. But nothing you do well is 100% cool "eureka work." Note that of the people you listed as personality models, the only one who actually had a job was Steve Jobs, and he for sure spent a ton of time doing stuff he wasn't that interested in; he did that because he actually wanted to make a great product. The other people on your list are a child, an animal, a psychopath, and a pirate. What does that tell you?

As other people have said, you don't give the impression of knowing very much about the jobs you listed (I apologize if this impression is incorrect.) You don't have a great academic record, and it sounds like you haven't done a lot to build skills since college. In other words, you don't have much to offer an employer beyond your own sense that you have the capability to excel at something, if only you can find the right thing. But you do have a huge advantage that many don't, which is parents with money and (it sounds like) experience in the business world. Your father knows you and your personality better than we do. It sounds like he's funding you now and he's going to fund your next step too, which means he has some degree of say.

What does he think should do? I honestly can't think of a good reason you shouldn't follow his advice.
posted by escabeche at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2012 [19 favorites]


First, may I suggest that you work at listening to what others have to say (especially when you specifically ask for their advice), instead pooh-poohing something because it doesn't fit with what you know/believe.
Second, may I suggest you go abroad for at least a year, without Daddy's credit card. Get as far away from your comfort zone (safety net) as possible. Try *actually* working at a number of different things on your list. Try one for a couple of months, then try another. Do internships, whatever, but try some of these things out.

FWIW, I agree with others who are suggesting you are using the MB stuff as a crutch, and could tone it down a bit. It adds to the sense I get that you think too highly of yourself.
posted by segatakai at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


Look, I know you're all thrilled about the MBTI stuff - hell I was too when I discovered it thirteen years ago, and I've always, always tested the same whenever I've dabbled in the intervening years. I was on the INFP listserve for years, I even did Typetango dating, but as I got more experienced I realised that it only covers tendencies - not absolute modes of interaction, and it is not an excuse for avoiding the stuff that seems less appealing because it doesn't fit your 'type'.

It's probably more useful for helping you understand potential areas of weakness, because that is the stuff that will trip you right up if you want to accomplish astonishing things. It's like strengthening muscles. You are not just a brain on a twig, you're a set of interacting functions. People who want to run marathons still have to train for endurance, even if their natural lower body strength is already off the scale.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:40 AM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Looking through your posting history, the consistent pattern here is that you lack self-discipline. All of the jobs you list require you to start out with an entry level job where you will be willing to work hard for someone else who tells you what to do, and you will have to succeed at it and exceed the expectations set for you at it of you want to get anywhere.

Look, at the end of the day, do you have any intention of applying for a job and doing it? Not only that, but you would have to pursue something for a long time without an immediate payoff. You SAY you can do that, but have you ever ACTUALLY done that?

People I know who are quite successful in their fields have a talent for stripping their job down to its essentials and doing it hard. Successful restaurateurs I know worked very hard learning the ropes and saving up every last penny for capital startup costs and are good at finding a low-overhead business and counting every last penny as they move their product and are willing to do almost every job themselves in order to save on staff costs. Successful scientists I know aren't the sort to get all weepy about the joy of discovery but are grant-writing and paper-publishing machines. Venture capitalists don't talk like "visionaries" but are highly focused analysts looking for which of their investments are going to dominate their industry, and which investments need to have the plug pulled. Semi-pro poker players and entrepreneurs rely not on the good will of their parents but are willing to run the gauntlet of making pitches to investors who will challenge them on whether their ideas are any good and will risk being shot down if it's not worth throwing money at because their business plan isn't firm enough to be viable.

I know that "ENTP" sounds to you like "amazing visionary who can do great things," but to a lot of people, especially given your situation, it sounds like "all talk, no action."
posted by deanc at 5:42 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, were there any answers from your similar question just before Christmas that made sense to you?
posted by rtha at 5:46 AM on January 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh precisely. None of the jobs/careers you list can be entered at a high level. They all require -- as any career does -- a period of what amounts to self-abnegation, losing yourself in the discipline of hard work, patience, compliance with other peoples' rigorous standards.

There are really only two personality "types" that have any bearing on career success in my experience as a college professor over nearly 20 years: disciplined, hard-working, humble, driven, and passionate, on the one hand; and entitled, undisciplined, self-important, dreamers on the other.

Be the former. You can succeed at anything.
posted by spitbull at 5:47 AM on January 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


overseas english teacher - this i can do now...it's sort of a back up plan..

Teaching English overseas is kind of a fun part-time lifestyle job, but it's hardly the swashbuckling, world-dominating kind of job you're talking about.

I think you need to combine some of the jobs to find your ideal job, notably entrepreneurialism. Focus on one of the weaker jobs like English teaching, but figure out how to scale it, make it sustainable, and actually make money (making money means you have more freedom to do what you want, btw) doing it.

If you're not an ENTP you may not understand.

Nah, you're absolutely wrong when you say this. We're all human beings struggling to make it out here in the big wide world, just like you. Do something truly great first, and then you earn the right to tell us we don't understand you.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:48 AM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also agreeing with the respondents who say you need to get far away from your father. You will never discover your own passions if you are dependent on him for approval or support.
posted by spitbull at 5:51 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


And when you do talk to your dad about your next steps, don't do it at home. If he is the business type you depict him as, he has an office. You are, after all, asking him to invest in you. Ask to make an appointment there to discuss three of the possible career/life paths you are interested in pursuing. Go into the office. Sit in the chair across his desk for him and lay out your plans.

If in preparing your plans, you find the idea of sitting across from a businessman pitching the idea of investing in your potential to become a seduction coach or bounty hunter stretching credulity, move on to the next career option.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:54 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think you might benefit from getting away from your dad for a while, forgetting about careers entirely, working to support yourself in a very non serious job and concentrating on meeting new people, experiencing new things and going after exhilarating experiences. I think you're living in your head rather than really living. You need to do something. It doesn't really matter what. Here's my suggestion.

Get a work and holiday visa for Australia or New Zealand, decide to take a certain amount of money ($2k max), choose a city, book a hostel and go do some living. You'll meet some awesome people, go out and do awesome things, get to practice your seduction techniques on girls fron all over the world and have some life experiences worth writing about. It will be tonnes of fun. But when the money runs out, you're not allowed to go home or ask dad to send more funds. You have to find a way to keep paying for your room at the hostel and for beer. So get a silly job, one that doesn't interfere much with your life and your new friends. Work at the hostel, work in a cafe, glassy in a bar, popcorn seller in a cinema, whatever. Something you can turn up to when you're hungover. All the other folks you'll meet will be doing the same thing: working a shit job to pay for rent and beer, so it won't seem too strange. Don't pay much attention to your job, but concentrate on having great experiences. Go fruit picking with your new friends. Go work in the ski fields. Save up enough money so you can quit your job and move to a new city and start again.

Live your life to the fullest for a year or two. Be so busy exploring everything that you don't have time to worry about the future. Only then allow yourself to think about anything like a career.

Bonus: economy is actually really good in Australia right now, so you can easily get shit jobs that pay enough to live on.

Also, this visa is quick to get. You could be on a plane in a month, on to the next phase in your life.

TL;dr: stop thinking, start doing.
posted by mosessis at 6:04 AM on January 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


If you're not an ENTP you may not understand.

Au contraire, I would certainly be "ENTP" if I believed in that MBTI bullpuckey, which is mid-20th century pseudo-scientific behavioral psychology at its very worst. Like several above, my personality led me to science and academia, and more recently policy activism.

The single word that I would use to describe my own process of enlightenment -- going from someone who knew he had "potential" and intelligence (and in my case, a specific skillset I really loved and was good at from having spent my childhood immersed in it) -- was as a process of "humbling."

Looking over your prior AskMe on this subject and this one, I think that's what you need. You need to discover other people. You need to immerse yourself in their struggles and misfortunes. You need to become aware of how privileged you are, and approach life with an attitude of gratitude for that privilege, and the intention to pay it forward to those with less. You need to learn that no matter how smart you think you are, there are many, many people who are smarter than you. No matter how "visionary" you think you are, vision ain't shit without discipline and passion. No matter how "analytic" you think you are, you don't really know if you've never really had to engage in analysis at a high level (in any field). No matter how good a writer you think you are, you're not good enough to make a living as a writer unless you have something important to write about.

You need philosophy, not personality testing. You need wisdom, not career advice. You're very young, and this is your greatest single advantage, far above any money your dad has or any prior education you've had.

I suggest that you spend a significant period of time -- months, a year, longer -- working (as a volunteer, even) in a community where suffering far greater than anything you have personally experienced is the norm. I've seen that experience transform people into driven, productive adults more reliably than any educational path or job experience.

You are, I think, missing the most obvious path for you, assuming you're in the US: join Teach For America or the military.
posted by spitbull at 6:08 AM on January 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, your early (hell, and your mid and late) 20s are an awesome time to fuck up and not be serious about anything. Wait until you're at least 25 to be serious or make serious life decisions. Careers count in that category.
posted by mosessis at 6:09 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreeing wholeheartedly with the others suggesting you divorce yourself from daddy and his money and try making your way on your own. This will serve to focus your mind and efforts on things that you actually have a real-world aptitude for as well as, hopefully, softening the rather arrogant attitude.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 AM on January 9, 2012


You can get into film editing without film school if you know the right people and pay a lot (a LOt) of dues via sweat equity. However, given then criteria stated, I don't think it would be a good fit at all for you for all the reasons 5_13_23 stated: it's long hours alone, fulfilling someone else's vision.

In my professional experience, the world is full of visionaries. The folks who get their visions realized are the ones who stick through the boring, slogging, uncreative bits of the process consistently. That's how you earn the social and professional capital to make people want to work with you and make your vision a reality.

Also, agreed that if you haven't done this at some point, live completely financially independently doing the same gig for at least 6 months (1 year better). You will learn SO MUCH about yourself and gain some pretty essential life skills.
posted by smirkette at 6:11 AM on January 9, 2012


Sounds like you're directionless and looking for a reason why you are that way, and stumbled upon your Myers-Briggs type. Lovely to know, sensible to explore, but kind of like a horoscope... the more you read into it, the more truth you will find inside.

Once you stop seeing yourself as "one of the ENFPs" and start thinking about you, yourself, you will have some success in thinking about what you want to do with your life. There are plenty of ENFPs who live in their parents' basements and do odd jobs and remain dependent forever, too, but you don't see them trumpeting their Myers-Briggs type as the reason they are. Or maybe you do... ? That'd be sad.

Frankly, your self-description (and previous question) reminds me of a lot of the burners I know. Why don't you find some of them and see what they do for a living that balances their desire to be a pirate with what they do to earn a paycheck?
posted by juniperesque at 6:12 AM on January 9, 2012


Get a job.

I'm not saying this because you're lazy or spoiled or any other characterization. Actually working has a way of focusing things. So go tend bar for a year or two. You will learn about one of the things on your list, but you will also learn about yourself, which is the key to working on narrowing a list like this.

You will also find, I think, that no one enjoys boring work and being told what to do. But unless you're the CEO of Apple or a fictional child/pirate/lunatic, you have to. Your capacity to deal with being an adult will grow as you put yourself out there and force yourself to become an adult.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:14 AM on January 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you're not an ENTP you may not understand. And I think we are commonly accused of being "lazy" or "jaded" or "hard to excite/motivate". This isn't a Generation X thing as much as it is a fact of my personality. My intelligence scales with my interest in what I am doing.

I am an ENTP. I understand where you are; most of my life, I have to fight the urge to get stuck in the creative/dream cycle and to actually get down to work. I also have ADD, which doesn't help matters either.

Where you're lacking is trying to understand how you can actually get more out of yourself, rather than resting on the "I could if I wanted, but I don't" laurels. Your cross to bear is having a father who sounds wealthy and willing to fund an endless number of your ventures, therefore not tying you to anything for long.

There will always be more interesting and creative things out there to distract you. The ENTPs that I know who don't sit in their basement playing video games while trying to decide what they're going to do with their day/life are ones who learned how to organize an idea into work and when and how they're going to do the work. That's a skill, not a personality trait.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:18 AM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


You are not a writer unless you sit down every single day, regardless of desire, and write; during the time you are not writing, you are reading and thinking about what you are reading. You are not an entrepreneur unless you have at least one solid idea that does well, and with which you successfully execute a business plan. Etc., etc., all down your list.

All I see here is a early-20s kid with a rich father and an overblown sense of self-worth.

Perhaps that is not who you really are, but that's how you come across. Forget the MBTI stuff, regardless of whether it's valid. Forget that you think you're extremely intelligent. Forget the creative-drive BS you lay out in your post. Go find people and places where you can do good, and do good. Make certain that your work is hard, humbling, and independent of your dad's support.

The boss battle of your 20s, kid, is to learn that you're pretty fucking unimportant.
posted by ellF at 6:23 AM on January 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


You're too young to know enough -- you can't possibly decide now what your life story is going to be. Who gave you the idea that you were so extraordinary? You're like everyone else starting their life.

Join the military. You will learn and see lots. Your resume will be impressive. You will also do your duty to your fellow citizens. You could learn self-discipline and humility. You don't have to stay forever, but who knows?

Or join the Peace Corps. Again, do your duty to your fellow earthlings and learn self-sacrifice.

Or, you could just talk, talk, talk ...
posted by ryanpoly at 6:24 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Grunt work does not bother me if I know it will pay off.

Are you sure about this? How much "grunt work" have you actually done in your life? Very often grunt work involves a lot of being told what to do without any immediately discernable pay off....sometimes for years at a stretch while you fantasize about being an astronaut/novelist/professional poker player.

I'm a couple of years older than you, and was lucky enough to land a weekend job with someone who has my absolute dream job--seriously, this guy has the job that ranks above astronaut, rockstar and travel journalist, on my list of dream jobs. I spend days cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the floor of his lab, and answering phones, in exchange for use of the facilities and the privilege of learning a skill from this guy. It will be years before I can take on my own clients.

My intelligence scales with my interest in what I am doing.
Yes, you and everyone else. People are much better at applying themselves to things that they are interested in. Succeful people learn to apply themselves to things they are NOT interested in, in order to be able to achieve goals. You need to focus less on finding the magical career that you will just excel at because it is the culmination of all your interests, and figure out how to apply yourself and be disciplined, period.

Also--Relationship/seduction coach
What? This is a job? Really?
posted by inertia at 6:41 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to say go with professional poker player, because it seems like you want a day filled with excitement and big risks, and you seem to have the financial support of your family, and you're young, so why not go for it? You won't be bored, you'll be taking risks all day long, and you can do it anywhere that gambling is legal available and plentiful, so you probably won't be in a dull location.

I wouldn't go the entrepreneur route, only because "entrepreneur" is a meaningless title if you don't have an idea for a business. Entrepreneur is just a fancy way of saying "business owner," and to tell the truth, starting and owning a business is about 95% drudgery. You have to keep track of your taxes and payroll and overhead and make your own copies and find an insurance agent, etc., etc., etc.

Teaching English abroad sounds exciting, but the work itself isn't necessarily exciting, it's the travel that comes with it. Many people I know who went to teach English abroad got stuck in really dull areas where the need for education was great, but the experience of living there on such a limited budget was no fun at all.

Don't go into the stock market. The stock market is tanking, first of all, and being on the trading floor is all stress, all rules, and no fun.
posted by xingcat at 6:44 AM on January 9, 2012


You don't mention what you studied in college, but I think you will do better at figuring out what you want to do/be if you start thinking OUTSIDE the Myers-Briggs box.

I have no experience as a lawyer but I know plenty of people who either are or are in the process of trying to become one. From what I gather it's not as exciting of a job as one might be led to believe after watching Law & Order or other tv shows/movies.

Some of the other jobs you list are sort of unrealistic - seduction coach, for example. Do you even know how to break into that field if it exists? Travel journalist - that's a 'dream job' for pretty much everyone I know or anyone who has traveled and enjoyed it. Not to say that either of these aren't possible, but you're not going to become Anthony Bourdain or Samantha Brown overnight. Also I think once you realize the realities of being a travel journalist, it may not be as appealing. I think that's true for everything on your list though.
posted by fromageball at 6:45 AM on January 9, 2012


Spitbull, ryanpoly, and others recommending Teach for America or the Peace Corps: those are incredibly competitive programs, and from the way the OP describes his background and GPA, they may not be realistic options. People are always very quick to recommend these programs (and JET and VSO) to frustrated/confused jobseekers, but they are extremely difficult slots to get, and most applicants start aiming for them years before they apply.

Getting a CELTA cheaply and then teaching at a regular language school is a better option, potentially. Something like International House, which has noncompetitive admissions, a good reputation, and links with affiliated schools all over the place, might be a good place to start.
posted by Wylla at 6:50 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having read another prior question from the OP, I think the issue is not career choice, but dealing with mental health issues that are evidently serious.

sawyerr, this thread sounds like we're ganging up on you, perhaps, and mostly repeating the same advice, which is that growing up is really hard work and that you have an unrealistic attitude about taking a shortcut. But your prior questions reveal a more complicated picture than the self-confident go-getter extrovert you claim to be in this question.

So the bit of advice that doesn't appear in this thread (as far as I can tell) but did appear frequently in an earlier thread (where you resisted it) is to seek professional therapeutic input and guidance. You have the normal insecurities, anxieties, self-centeredness, etc. of any person your age. But you are letting them whipsaw you in an unhealthy way, and that points to something a lot more scientifically realistic than an MBTI result, something that is in fact at the core of your personality because it's in your brain chemistry as such.

Please seek therapy. None of the other advice in this thread is moot, but you won't be able to take it in, much less follow it, if you are tormented by an inner demon that could well be responsive to medical management.
posted by spitbull at 6:59 AM on January 9, 2012 [20 favorites]


I have to agree with spitbull. Somehow, your perception of yourself and the world seems to be slightly off. Until that is resolved, it's hard to take what you've written very seriously.

Get any job that sounds really interesting to you. You're not going to pick the right one the first time--you are going to change a LOT in your twenties. By the time you're 30, you'll have more experience, and that's the only thing that is going to help you make a real decision about a career path.

And do get mental health counseling. Or you're going to find yourself at 30 in the same place you are right now, with a dodgy work history and a feeling that you can't trust your own decisionmaking skills.
posted by anniecat at 7:14 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're not an ENTP you may not understand. And I think we are commonly accused of being "lazy" or "jaded" or "hard to excite/motivate".

Lazy is as lazy does. What do you call a guy who doesn't want to spend time at a job working his ass off every day to accomplish his goal? You call that person "lazy." While I understand that your perception of yourself is one where you believe that "deep down" you're not actually lazy, all the rest of us have to go on is what we see.
innovation/strategy consultant - seems like this is something I could -really- excel at, seems like a dream job, we'll keep it in the dream job category since I don't have the degree or background for it
See, this entry basically outlines your problem, in a nutshell. This is actually not that hard of a job to get-- it's not like being a rock star or an astronaut. What it requires, though, is for you to get an entry-level management/business consulting job as an analyst, working long hours (but the pay is decent) doing boring work. Then you rise up to the point where they allow you to talk to clients directly. Then you can strike out on your own. But you don't want to do that. Instead, you look at the job, and say to yourself, "this is a dream job I'd be good at but I don't have the background" and don't make any progress in life.
posted by deanc at 7:26 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure how far you live from NYC, but ?Whatif! Innovation is currently seeking entry-level candidates for their consulting firm. I had an informational interview with the organization last month, and they are hiring NOW. I suggest you fill out the application on their website (the process is a little whacky, but I think you may appreciate it). Also, have you thought about interning at IDEO or Continuum?
posted by nikayla_luv at 7:49 AM on January 9, 2012


Sigh. There are actually three jobs listed there that you could be on the road to doing right now. There's nothing stopping you from going to your local TGI Fridays and applying to be a bartender (or to wait tables, at first, so you can become a bartender). Also nothing stopping you from applying for English jobs overseas or just taking a sign language class.

I wanted to speak to this one, since I'm one of them:

novelist - would help to have more life experience, can put this on the backburner for now, always been a very strong creative writer, never practice, not like the talent will go away, but i heard you get less creative with age.

The talent will never go away, no. But if you don't work at it, you'll still just be a guy with a college students' tool set--but you'll be thirty, forty years old. Meanwhile, the people who worked at writing right out of college will be leaps and bounds better than you, whether or not they were ever "talented." Talent doesn't matter in writing. Hard, persistent work does.

But look, your age isn't anything. I'm friends with a 24 year old who has been on the NY Times bestseller list. She got there the old fashioned way: by working at it really hard, querying, getting rejected, querying again, getting an agent, going on sub, selling. Me, I'm 28 and recently sold my first book. I started seriously working at writing fiction at 24, and those four years were some of the poorest of my life. I was really lucky to have my husband to help support me financially as I made sacrifices in order to have time to write.

And you're lucky too! You have a rich dad who I'm sure would pay your living expenses if you wanted to write a book. So if you want to be a novelist, write a goddamned book already. But for heaven's sake, if you decide you don't want to, please, for all of us working writers out there, quit acting like if you only sat down to write, then it would happen, because you're talented. As you would see if you made a real go at it, it's a lot more complicated than that. And it's incredibly common but actually really insulting to hear people say, "Well, I'm good at creative writing. I could be a novelist if I wanted." I call BS on that one. I know. I've lived it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:06 AM on January 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


I had this really long answer typed out, but I've deleted it. Most of it was introspective blahblah, and that's the wrong advice for you right now. You're already good at introspection, but as you've found out, you can't introspect your way into a career.

You will need advice from, and connections to, the real world. Not just now, but throughout your career. So start talking to people and start doing for-real research. You haven't been out of college for long, so reach out to your school's career development office or possibly your advisor. If you know anyone doing anything remotely interesting, ask them about it. Ask them what they're up to, how they got where they are, what sucks about their jobs. Don't dismiss their advice just because they're not in their dream job right now, because you never know where they'll be in ten years. It's good to learn about yourself, but you also need to learn about the industry.

And, yes, if you think you could benefit from therapy, go now. Feeling mentally healthy is awesome and will only help your career, and the earlier you get there, the better.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:19 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, assuming for the sake of the argument that personality types are valid, I'll disclose that I have taken the MB test several times and get ENTP every time. I am very happy at my job as a...

...Policy Analyst. Yup, you got that right. A 9-5 civil service job. About as non-glamorous and non- creative as it gets on paper. Why am I happy? I work with an area of policy that appeals to me. I have a smart, fair boss who trusts me (so I don't chafe against authority very often). I get to see results of my problem solving (instant gratification, yo). I took a job where I have smart, interesting coworkers. I have time and energy for a fun, creative non-work life, including traveling and photography, two of my big loves.

I took a job once that was supposed to be "right up my alley" and creative and fun and I was there a miserable 7 months before I left.

Which is to say, it's not necessarily the job title or the employer or the sector, it's the environment (does it suit you? the people, the location, the subject matter?) and what you put into it, and how it allows you to spend your non-work time. I am sure there are happy ENTP cable installers, combustion engine engineers, seamstresses, and cashiers. Don't limit yourself. Try something. See what you like about it, see what you don't.
posted by pointystick at 8:33 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have time and energy for a fun, creative non-work life, including traveling and photography, two of my big loves.

Apparently, pointystick was reading my mind, because I was thinking about this as I was driving to work.

I imagine it's not strictly an American trait, but we do seem to put a lot of emphasis on finding that One True Job, like that One True Love, that will fulfill all of your emotional and psychological needs. I once met a guy at a party who had the temerity - we'd known each other for all of 30 seconds - to ask me if I loved my job, and when I shrugged and said it was fine, he pressed my hand and looked earnestly into my eyes and told me I should find a job that filled me with passion.

Uh, no. Thanks, but no. I have a job that mostly doesn't irritate the fuck out of me, where I don't have to navigate a snakepit of politics and backstabbing, where I can mostly go home and not talk about it if I don't want to, and which gives me the financial, psychological, and emotional freedom to do shit I love outside of work.

If you spend all your time chasing the One True Job, you may find, 20 years from now, that you haven't found your passion in your work, and you haven't given yourself time and space to find it outside of work, either. There's a lot to be said for having a job - at least for a while - that is Just Fine Even Though It's Not The One True Job and using the money and headspace it gives you to do other things you love that you can't (yet) get paid for.
posted by rtha at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2012 [27 favorites]


I've read all of the other MBTI personality types. The only thing that comes close is INTP or ENFP. The stuff I have read about ENTP's is dead on for me.

Have you actually taken the MBTI assessment? Not some quickie online-version, but the actual professionally-administered instrument? Since you respect the MBTI so much, I would recommend doing this, as you'll receive guidance on how to use the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type specifically in regards to your career.

If you're not an ENTP you may not understand. And I think we are commonly accused of being "lazy" or "jaded" or "hard to excite/motivate". This isn't a Generation X thing as much as it is a fact of my personality.

Well, you're not Generation X, so there's that. I've never heard an ENTP described as hard to excite. ENTPs are commonly "accused" (your word, not mine) of generating a lot of big ideas without following through on the details, and reacting to criticism as an argument to be won rather than considering whether a valid point has been made.
posted by desuetude at 9:24 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm a Myers Briggs INTP. According to all the usual personality profile stuff, "INTPs will be happiest in careers which allow them a great deal of autonomy in which they can work primarily alone on developing and analyzing complex theories and abstractions, with the goal of their work being the discovery of a truth, rather than the discovery of a practical application."

You know what jobs I've done? Piecework, Preschool Teacher, a bit of tutoring, and currently, "Customer Service Representative." What all of those jobs have in common? Working with lots of other people, high focus on the practical, zero autonomy, and very little time to deal with abstraction or theory. By all accounts, I should have been/be terrible at all of those jobs and miserable when I was in them.

But do you know what my current coworkers say most often about me? It's not that I'm a brilliant theorist or my capacity for abstract thought. It's that I'm amazingly even tempered and cheerful with even the worst of our customers. And that's not because of some inborn special-snowflake talent with people, because "by nature" I'm withdrawn, grumpy, and crappy with people. It's because every day I wake up and decide to do as well as I can. And you know the amazing thing? Once I decided I wasn't going to let what I knew about myself stop me from doing what I needed to do, I found out I wasn't nearly as bad at dealing with people as I thought. I do better than more naturally extroverted people precisely because I'm not relying on a belief at being good with people. And I enjoy it!

Personality profiling can be helpful. It's been pretty useful in my life (though Myers Briggs isn't my preferred system). But it isn't some magic box that you can put your life in. If you start thinking "this is how I am!" it can freeze you. You'll rely on your "natural" abilities without honing them, and you'll convince yourself that you can't do things that you're actually quite capable of. Forget natural abilities. Pick something you really want to do, and then work at it. There isn't some perfect career that will satisfy every need. Even if you find the best possible career for you, you're still not going to wake up every single morning full of joy at getting to do whatever it is. Some days are still going to be boring, or stressful, or whatever. Other people have commented on the specifics of all the careers on your list. (I personally can comment on the lack of glamor in the "novelist" category--which reminds me that I need to send out another round of queries in the hopes of changing the title to "published author" instead....) But if there's one thing on the list that you really WANT to do, then pick that and start working on it. Don't worry about it being the right one. Worry about the work it takes to make it a reality.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 10:33 AM on January 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


I also feel like MBTI describes me pretty accurately (I'm an INFJ), in a way most other personality psychology can't. I feel like it's something that helps me understand myself and my own weaknesses and strengths. I think if that's what you're using it for, then there's nothing wrong with it. But if it's the defining characteristic in your life, you're probably putting too much stock in it. For example, I would never describe myself solely by my MBTI type, as you did. But it doesn't make it any less meaningful for me.

Putting that aside, I'll give you the advice I give to my high school students:

Follow your passion, not your potential.

You have the potential to do any of those jobs on that list. But I think where you're struggling is that you don't necessarily have a passion for any of them. And that's ok, because you're young. But you need to find the thing in life you're passionate about. For some of us, we use the word "calling" to describe it. It's the thing that makes doing your job not suck quite so much. For me, it's teaching. However, I've seen lots of people with tons of potential fail out of teaching because they didn't have the passion for it.

So. If you can afford it, go travelling and work/volunteer in a bunch of situations/locations/jobs until you find something that resonates with you and feels like something you could be passionate about. Don't worry if there's more than one - try them all if you can.

And when you find something that makes you feel like you're on the right track, stick at it, even when it gets difficult. No job is great all the time. Hell, most jobs suck 90% of the time, but that's why they have to pay you.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:14 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been where you are often enough, filled with so much energy and potential I thought I was this glowstick giving off light. And it's going to be hard to figure out what your true calling is, and you're going to want to find this one thing that you can pour all of yourself into. Here's my advice: instead of finding the one perfect job, find a few things that you could volunteer for for one or two days a week.

It's like New Year's resolutions. You envision this amazing year where you Do All The Things and go to the gym every day and wake up at dawn to write and read all the business books and become a really awesome guitarist. That's not going to happen. But you could, say, sign up for a guitar lesson once a week, or volunteer with a radio station or habitat for humanity once a week. It doesn't sound like enough, or anything at all - once a week is nothing! But even if you do no additional practice, if you go to your guitar lesson or volunteer once a week, when a year goes by you will have had 52 guitar lessons! That is more than most people get around to doing.

If I could volunteer more than I do now, I would:
- volunteer with my local NPR station and indie station (KUOW and KEXP). Yeah, maybe I get coffee or fax things for a year, or maybe one of the tech guys lets me flip some switches or I get around to talking to the hosts, and eventually (in a few years) get to be on the air.

- work with Habitat for Humanity. If you are interested in building, but don't want to study architecture, I recommend this. A friend of mine with a carpenter uncle he worked for a few times got a job with them as the guy who trains volunteers on-site and makes sure they don't fuck it up. A year or two of volunteering consistently and you'll have a pretty good idea of how to build a house.
(etc.)

OR. If you want to pursue more creative things, set definite challenges and limits for yourself. You want to make a movie? OK. But instead of waiting until you've researched and purchased all the perfect equipment, get an okay camera, and then DO NOT buy anything else. You don't get to buy books on writing screenplays. You have to get high with your friends and write something, even if it's awful. You don't get a budget for actors or costumes, you have to charm your friends and raid their closets. You don't get to worry about how you could make the perfect movie if only you had this-or-that, or could research this-or-that. And you have to commit to doing it in a specific time frame and then showing it to your friends, whom you've provided with generous alcohol.

Do this with a novel (do nanowrimo and show it to someone), or a play (put on a performance!), etc. I am giving you this advice because I wish I could get over myself and do some of these things. Also, look into treatment for anxiety.
posted by ke rose ne at 11:40 AM on January 9, 2012


ENTPs are sort of visionaries who can be the best and innovate and succeed at anything we put our heart to but we get bored very easily if we aren't socially, creatively satisfied and doing some "analysis" or "innovation" or "problem solving". We also don't take well to being "told what to do".

And I think we are commonly accused of being "lazy" or "jaded" or "hard to excite/motivate". To add to this dilemma, once I feel that the creative aspect of a story/project/class/problem/etc is done, then I'm back to being an absolutely worthless.
(emphasis mine)

This describes almost everyone with unmedicated ADHD that I've known. Of course, I can't diagnose you, but combined with your grandiose ideas, mediocre grades, and your apparent difficulty at finishing what you start, it might be something to talk to a mental health professional about.
posted by desjardins at 11:59 AM on January 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Please take an actual Myers-Briggs test from someone trained in administering them before you go making decisions about How You Are based on self-diagnosis. Seeing a psychologist and getting evaluated for ADHD wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

I am going to say something that may seem overly blunt; I am not saying it because I mean to be rude, but because I think you need better information:

I can be...the brightest, most motivated, most extroverted, and the strongest leader in a room of top Ivy Leaguers.

I can tell you right now, as someone who attended an Ivy League school and who has taught in honors programs in other institutions that no, you cannot be the "strongest leader" in a group of top students if you lack focus.

People who are the "strongest leaders" in highly selective educational programs are people who have figured out how to work hard. Really hard. Potential alone doesn't cut it. I went to school with a couple of people who had been featured in newspapers and magazines as child prodigies, and they worked as hard as anyone.

Potential is overrated. Results are what count. The older you get, the truer that is.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:39 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is a lot of good advice above. As I said to you in December in your previous AskMe, there is absolutely no need to find the absolutely perfect job now. Really. Take it from somebody who's been in the working world for a long time. There is much room for error now and even 10 years from now. Get a job now, get some experience, learn what you do and do not like in a job. In reality, not theory. Nobody will care if you bounced around a few fields, as long as you have demonstrated the ability to show up, listen, and do what you are asked to do. I have held jobs that I did not ever think would be to my advantage, and I've done well. Other jobs, well not so much.

Listen to what everybody above is saying. Good luck.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2012


Re: Myers-Briggs, the MBTI was not derived scientifically. It does kiiiind of correspond to the Big Five model of personality, which is one that actual psychologists use. More about the Big Five.

Ultimately, though, this stuff is fun to think about but is almost certainly a total distraction. I pimp Cal Newport pretty hard around Ask, but I think he's totally correct that passion and courage are red herrings when it comes to finding fulfilling work, and what most people really need is to work on developing hard focus, or the ability to concentrate on things and finish them -- not on making The Perfect Decision about The Perfect Job.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:03 PM on January 9, 2012


I don't know if you have all or some combination of depression, ADHD, and anxiety issues. But I do know that this:
People are much better at applying themselves to things that they are interested in. Succeful people learn to apply themselves to things they are NOT interested in, in order to be able to achieve goals.
is spot on. EVERYONE is much smarter at things they find interesting. Maybe you have more natural/raw/general intelligence than most people. You probably do. But you will find that lots of people are smart, especially at higher levels of things you want to do, and hard work matters more. Hard work -- dedication -- being productive -- is a talent as well, in addition to being a skill than can be developed.

Being a lawyer takes a hell of a lot of work, most of it boring. Maybe that's not true for all of your options, but for those that it is, you won't get there (success) unless you suck it up and start working -- without that you just have a talent for glibness.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:28 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, to start with I think everyone is being unbelievably hard on you. I realize Metafilter skews older, but I think a lot of people on this thread have really forgotten what it's like to be fresh out of college with no particular direction and no particular prospects. That's only heightened in this god awful economy.

What I think you need to do is get a job. Any job will do. Preferably with health insurance, but that may be too ambitious. So we'll start with a job. Go to a temp agency. Keep applying for other jobs while you temp. Possibly get a job on the weekend too. Once you have a job you will calm down and be able to really think about what you are doing with your life.

Your first job in no way dictates what you will do for the rest of your life. There is a slim chance you could fall into your dream job and that would be great, but people switch jobs/careers constantly. Especially at your age. Don't worry about picking something and being stuck with it. Unless you go into massive student debt you won't be stuck with it. And I can tell you from experience your parents will be far more likely to help you down the road when you do know what you want to do or get into a tight spot if you've been consistently working your ass off. Before going to law school I worked at a clothing boutique, I temped for a ton of corporations, I substitute taught, and I worked for a medical device company. I had no direction. I needed a job to pay the bills and I did (just barely and not without some occaisonal help). And that was fine. I sort of wish I hadn't rushed off to law school so quickly.

So just get a job. You don't need a direction. A direction will come in time. I remember what it was like to be your age and everyone puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on you to find a career, but really you can take your time. I know people who dicked around their whole 20s and into their early 30s. Then they did what I did at 23, went to grad school and got their careers going. They are no worse off than me, except they got to awesomely dick around for a decade. And you probably won't even need that long.

You figure it out over the next couple of years. Maybe you'll go abroad, that's always fun. Just do something. Go to a temp agency tomorrow and sign up. Or go be a bartender. Or sign up to teach English abroad. But just pick one of those three.

And don't because a semi pro poker player. I know semi pro poker players. They make a lot of money, but they still have real jobs. I can tell you it is not a profession that promotes good mental health. Now and then whatever, but it's not a lifestyle you likely want.
posted by whoaali at 6:30 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to by unduly rude, but quite frankly you have some growing up to do. Much of what you write is actually pretty offensive to people who are creative, have no money, have responsibilities. You don't even have a grasp on what gen x is - I mean you're 23. How is that genx? But then again, I haven't been ENTP for a while, so I've forgotten what it's like. I'll get back there by the end of this bottle though.

I don't really care that you have dad to fall back on, bottom line is you're a pretty immature sounding kid who's struggling with attention, identity and direction.

I don't mean to pile on, but seriously, if you think that a lawyer is a job that you "might kick ass at" woah - you mean you might be able to - with minimum supervision - draft a letter to a deaf old man who's fence has fallen across a neighbour's fruit trees? Or you can spend weeks negotiating clause 202.6.3 in a 1700 page contract that you neither understand nor care about? Then go for it. You don't know what a lawyer does - that's if you're lucky enough to get work. I think that's the same with all the other career choices you've outlined. You don't have the slightest sense of what's involved.
posted by mattoxic at 1:50 AM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to agree with spitbull. Somehow, your perception of yourself and the world seems to be slightly off.

Yeah, after reading your past questions this post makes a lot more sense. Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist might enable you to think more clearly about things like your career, without being either grandiose or self-defeating. Best of luck and be well.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:55 AM on January 10, 2012


I can be... the brightest, most motivated, most extroverted, and the strongest leader in a room of top Ivy Leaguers

This has all turned into a bit of a pile-on, which is unfortunate (although it's all good advice, and you should listen to it.) So I'm going to come at this from a different angle, and suggest that regardless of how true that statement I quoted actually is (Sidhedevil is wise), it doesn't matter. Happiness will likely not be found by actively pursuing this belief that you could be The Greatest, even if it is true. Wringing every single drop of "potential" out of yourself in your early twenties isn't the path to contentment; it's just exhausting.

I've felt kind of like you do for quite a lot of my life. But I did in fact go to a top university, and mixed with those sorts of people, the cream of the cream of the crop (some are lovely; some are arseholes; a lot of them are flat-out weird.) And I can't begin to express how incredibly calming it was to suddenly realise that at last, without a shadow of a doubt, that I had no chance at all of being the smartest guy in the room. I was surrounded by people much cleverer than me. It was wonderful. Rather than being tormented by the constant push-pull nagging of that ephemeral bastard Potential, I was able to finally relax, appreciate where I was, enjoy the company of people I could learn from, and get on with having fun.

I spent my twenties bouncing around careers in a way that might make sense to you - comedian, television "creative", researcher, journalist, assistant to a politician... All the time looking for that Perfect Job that would Let Me Fully Express Myself. I had a huge amount of fun (and a boatload of luck), but I didn't really get completely happy with what I was doing until I finally landed (in rtha's words) "a job that mostly doesn't irritate the fuck out of me, where I don't have to navigate a snakepit of politics and backstabbing, where I can mostly go home and not talk about it if I don't want to." Job satisfaction isn't found in the endorphin rush of those rare moments of heroic achievement, it's in finding compatibility with the everyday bullshit. Steve Jobs didn't become Steve Jobs by being a "visionary", Steve Jobs became Steve Jobs because he was a massive nerd about the small dull stuff nobody else cared about.

And the key thing is that having a job that falls within my acceptable bullshit tolerance levels also gives me the free time to try my hand at some of those other pipe-dream careers in my spare time - and to actually do it properly. I finally got tired of all those first chapters of novels and half-thought-through screenplay ideas hanging around on my hard drive.

As a lot of people have said, could doesn't matter for shit. Did is all that counts.

You've currently got two massive safety nets that many others people despondently looking at their lot in life don't have. You have access to money, and you're young. This is what your twenties are for. You've got the best part of a decade before your job needs to actually be your career, and you have the financial freedom to experiment. So bloody use them both. Try stuff out, whether it's bar work in Australia, offering to make the coffee at a film editing house, interning at a consultancy, or whatever. Form connections. Find people much smarter than you to learn from. Talk to people about their jobs and their lives, and listen to what they say. Change jobs every year or two, but don't change jobs every few months. Learn the simple pleasures of seeing something, however humble, through to completion. Make stuff. And for god's sake, don't even think about your "potential" for the next five years.
posted by flashboy at 2:32 PM on January 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Re. professional poker: If you aren't good enough to build a bankroll by being a disciplined, winning player (with a well-defined concept of bankroll management), you have absolutely no business wasting anyone else's money.
posted by doreur at 8:02 PM on April 1, 2012


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