How often are you left feeling dissatisfied with where you are and where you want to be? Has this been a common trend in your life? You’re always looking toward the ideal and disheartened by how far you still have to go. Even when you finish things, you immediately know what you’d like to make better. You’re not alone, my friend.
This is a common trend among the human population, but particularly among INFJ women. Why might we be more susceptible to viewing our lives in this way? I have a few thoughts that I’d like to share with you about why that is and how you can find more satisfaction.
Let idealism fill the appropriate role.
As an INFJ, you’re future-focused, and you’re one of the idealist personality types. As I’ve written about before, being an idealist is not the same as being an optimist. You can read more about that in this article entitled, Why are INFJs so hard on themselves? If you know and remember that you’re an idealist, you can also watch out for the ways in which you might be tripped up by your idealist tendencies.
The phrase “too idealistic” is used to dismiss someone as having unrealistic ideas. While, yes, idealism by its nature is not grounded in reality, it’s not a negative thing. Idealism is beautiful. It allows us to imagine the way things could be. It gives us ideas about how to make the world a better place.
Yet, we’ve given idealism a role it was never meant to play.
Idealism is your guide. It can serve as your motivation. It’s not your end result. When we elevate our idealistic ideas to our goals, we’ve planted the seeds for dissatisfaction and disappointment.
Ideals and goals are different.
Have you ever considered this before? The ideal is your idea of perfection. The ideal is not the same as a goal because the ideal is unreachable. When working with my clients, we begin by identifying their ideal version of their goal. We get it out in the open, and we see it for what it is. Perfection. Then we look at their minimum version of their goal. Finally, we settle on the medium, or reasonable version of their goal. Identifying their two extremes makes it easier to land on a goal that we can actually accomplish together.
You have a greater chance of achieving your goals if they are specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable, and time-based. You may recognize this as the SMART goal format. You may feel resistance about getting this specific about your goal. But you give yourself a greater chance of achieving your goal when you know exactly what reaching your goal means. And reaching your goals can bring satisfaction. Yet that satisfaction can be fleeting if we’re still pulled toward the ideal as our measure of success.
The gap vs. gain
Dan Sullivan’s idea of the gap and the gain shows us that high-achieving and ambitious people (hello, my fellow ambitious INFJs) tend to focus on the “gap” between their current reality and the ideal. He calls the distance from our starting point to our current reality the “gain.” He believes that your happiness, and ultimately your progress, depends on shifting your mindset from focusing on the gap to measuring your gains. I wholeheartedly agree with this approach!
Starting Point------(GAIN)------YOU------(GAP)------The Ideal
The “GAIN” in the diagram above is where you acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. THIS is what you measure.
The “GAP” is not what you measure. This is what you use to create your goals. See, the ideal IS helpful. It serves as your constant guide. It provides direction. As Dan Sullivan points out in his free e-book, your ideal is like the horizon. It will always be far off from where you currently are. You can travel toward the horizon line, but it will continually be out of reach.
When my INFJ coaching clients start to feel frustrated with where they are, I encourage them to identify their accomplishments related to the project we’re working on. I encourage you to do the same. Better yet—keep track of your accomplishments along the way and schedule regular check-in dates with yourself to review your progress.
Specific goals + focus on the gain = greater satisfaction
Want to give it a shot? Pick something you’ve been working on that’s causing frustration in your life. Create a SMART goal if you don’t already have one. Then, make a list of everything (I mean everything) you’ve gained (your progress).
What do you think? Will this help you find more satisfaction in your life?
If you’re looking for support to help you clarify your goals and support in achieving them, schedule a Discovery Call to explore coaching. I love helping INFJ women gain confidence and clarity on their vision. Just recently one of my clients shared this with me:
I want that for you, too! If you want to experience the same kind of clarity, schedule time to explore coaching with me through a Discovery Call.