What's my passion? (INTJ)
October 6, 2015 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm 29 and seem to be going through a sort of quarter life crisis. The events of the last few months have caused me to want to change directions, but I need help deciding what that new direction is.

TLDR-version of how I arrived where I am today: I started college 10 years ago studying computer science, changed that to Management Information Systems, and in the process moved back near home. Got a part time job at a Fortune 400 company while attending school full time. The job rapidly turned into a career in Training Design, which caused my studies to be put on the back burner (I reduced to half-time status, taking courses online while working 40-60 hours a week). I've had some great opportunities with this job, including two close-calls for positions in NYC at our headquarters. The last two years or so, things have slowed down in terms of growth at work, and I feel like I've outgrown the position 10x over. I don't have a strong interest in my current field, but I have learned a lot from it. I also still don't have my degree because I chose to focus on a job that was taking me places. The company is a good one to work for, but I have a strong desire to do something I'm passionate about, even if it means making less money. I'd also go for something that pays more, even if it's not something I absolutely love. Basically at this point I'm not making much at all, but I'm putting in a ton of effort to keep myself stimulated (i.e. taking on extra projects that involve things I enjoy).

I'd really appreciate some suggestions of what I should do here, because life is too short and I'm stuck in a rut!

Skills: Very fast learner, can quickly understand new concepts and ideas with little to no effort. Very keen sense of surroundings- many friends have half-seriously told me I should be a private investigator. I've designed websites on the side and make enough money doing freelance photography to pay for most of my gear. I know several coding languages, most surrounding web-based applications. I used to build Rube Goldberg machines constantly when I was younger, and always asked a million questions about how complex machines and computer systems worked. On the physical side of things: I was a gymnast, a swimmer, and a competitive water skier. As an adult I have run a marathon and currently do CrossFit 5 days a week.

Interests: Love to travel, would love to combine work and travel, or move somewhere for a job (I'm quite mobile and not tied down by anything really). I was an extra in a movie once and love movies in general. Film location scouting would be really cool, but I don't know what experience is needed for that? I'm passionate about process improvement and have incorporated that into my current job. I love project management, but I'd really like to manage something out of the ordinary if that's the path I end up following. I currently live in a small college town, but love big cities. I prefer NYC to LA, and San Francisco is near and dear to my heart also. I'm a news junkie and always the first to know about current events in my circle of friends/family. I've always been more of an introvert and I love working behind the scenes rather than being the star of the show. I have a strong sense of adventure and consider myself spontaneous (which is probably why I am frustrated in my current situation). People often come to me for advice and help with anything technical. I especially love people like Tim Ferriss and what they do, explore the world and make it better.

I'm an INTJ and I need help finding my way - thank you!
posted by robadobdob to Work & Money (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think the obvious first step is to finish your degree since it'll be hard to change jobs without one. Maybe move to a university in a big city? This'll also give you time and space to explore other interests.
posted by tecg at 8:19 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

If the big company will pay for classes I'd stick it out and get my degree on their dime before moving on. I paid for an MBA that way, although I believe that benefit is much less common these days.
posted by COD at 8:37 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I work as a proposal manager (coordinating the development of business proposals for large IT contracts) and I also happen to be an INTJ. I don't loooove-love it (I don't think I would love any job, because it's work and my true dream is being independently wealthy and eating bon-bons all day) but I am pretty satisfied because the money is quite good (especially at a large firm), I do travel about once a month, I work with a lot of very smart and driven people, and my personality makes me pretty good at my job (organized, attentive to detail, able to learn and adapt quickly, etc.) I wanted to chime in because you say that your education/work experience is in MIS and training, which is the kind of project work that the proposals I manage are pursuing. So I deal with a lot of content having to do with that subject, and I know next to nothing about it...I don't necessarily need to in my job, but if I did I think I could be a TOTAL rockstar in what I do if I did have a better understanding that stuff. (For example, if I'm editing content, I can fix obvious typos, but if I had subject matter knowledge I could catch when a statement is factually incorrect or makes no logical sense.)

Anyway, I just bring this up in case you want to think outside the box and potentially consider careers that are different from what you have done, but could benefit from your knowledge and background. There's a lot more to what I do, too, so if you want to know more feel free to PM me.
posted by lovableiago at 8:48 AM on October 6, 2015

Best answer: I am also an INTJ. Honestly, I'm not sure "finding your passion" is a good goal for INTJs because we already have a passion for figuring out complex stuff, whatever the field may be and we get bored once we figure it out. Instead, work on being REALLY awesome at something hard that people will pay for, and leverage that into maximum freedom (in terms of time and money) for exploring different interests. That's what I've decided to do instead of devoting myself to a single passion that may or may still be a passion in 5-10 years. MeMail me if you want details.
posted by jcatus at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2015 [18 favorites]

Here is the classic grumblebee 'passion' comment.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would suggest checking out some non profit boards in areas you're interested in to see if you can volunteer on specific projects where they need someone with expertise to offer advice on how to do things.

My partner and I are both INTJs and we both like to problem solve and figure out how to make improvements, increase efficiencies, etc. At work, this usually means being the boss/management which requires a lot of interpersonal skills, time, and finesse that INTJs are just not interested in.

If you focus on areas that you care about and work on specific projects, I think you'll be able to get a lot of intellectual fulfillment from volunteering. The key is to approach as an expert and make sure whatever you agree to work on actually uses your skills.

Traditional work is hard for INTJs because we KNOW how everything should be done and flat out don't understand why anyone wouldn't go along with our plans.
posted by betsybetsy at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh man, favoriting what jcatus said so hard. I'm an INTJ also and I've completely changed careers every couple of years, primarily due to eventually becoming soul-crushingly bored with whatever thing I was doing (which I inevitably had been excited to learn when I first started!).

I've found general success by using my varied experience to my advantage when interviewing for jobs -- I can persuade potential employers that I'm not the laundry list of skills they might be looking for, but I'm great at learning and mastering whatever they throw at me, which means I have the capacity to be MUCH more useful to them than if I were just trying to sell them on one very specific skillset.

I'm sorry, this doesn't exactly answer your question, but if I were you I would just look at what kinds of job opportunities are available and see if you can get your foot in the door for anything that sounds like a fun challenge, perhaps going on with the expectation of switching careers again a few years down the line.

One thing that comes to mind though is IT consulting, especially if you have (or could acquire) an expertise in some particular widely-used system. I have worked with consultants who specialize in a specific ERP system and get to travel around the country to meet customers in person and help them work through very complicated business systems problems to try to get the out-of-box ERP system to accommodate that business's esoteric way of doing things.
posted by a strong female character at 3:01 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another INTJ here, and I can't recommend what jcatus said more. I'm extraordinarily lucky to be in a position to do IT work with a high amount of freedom and relatively low amount of time required and pressure applied. I have a definite, single responsibility, but if I want to wander into something else, or just try stuff, I have the trust to do that. I like what I do - it's a challenge, and it gives me the time to do my equivalent of all the *other* things you listed, which are really the important things anyway.

So, like jcatus said, put yourself in a position to pursue your non-work interests, and emphasize autonomy in your work.
posted by cnc at 5:40 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Following up - if you're looking for a career recommendation, web development and design is an infinitely deep pool of learning. When you've gone sufficiently deep and start getting bored, the pools change completely. Things like Node.js, Bootstrap, Angular HTML5, etc. have completely changed web development, and most or all of them are less than six years old. People are constantly pushing the limits of what's possible. It's a perfect INTJ job.
posted by cnc at 5:48 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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