Answered April 6, 2014
I work for a large corporation, but have the sense that this is not the right fit for me, therefore not leading to fulfillment in my life. The ISFJ Artist Personality Type seems to be in alignment with who I really am and how I best operate. Any advice on how to get started with some practical steps for pursuing careers that fit this profile would be greatly appreciated.
I'm sorry that you're unhappy at work. Most of us spend a huge portion of our lives "working" so it's important that we get it right when we decide what we want to do and where we want to do it, or at least that we don't choose so badly that it shades our entire lives with dissatisfaction. The good news is that we can change careers at any point in our lives, indeed people do it all of the time! And you seem to be approaching this point in your life as well. As a person who has changed major careers myself, I will warn you that it requires bravery and sacrifice to start over again. Remolding one's self can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and I think it's pretty much always a humbling one. You asked for some practical advice, but before we get to that, and before you decide absolutely to throw off the corporate world and sign up for online painting classes, I want to point out a couple of things that I think you should consider.
Firstly, you say that you're an ISFJ Artist, which is a bit confusing to me, because usually ISFP is considered the Artist type, and ISFJ is what I call the Nurturer. These types are quite different in terms of their basic needs and desires, and in terms of the kind of work surroundings that would feel comfortable and happy for them on a daily basis. If you are an ISFP it's not at all surprising that the very idea of working for a large corporation might "stick in your craw"", whereas I believe ISFJs are rife throughout the corporate world, and those working for large corporations are presumably happy with the security and tradition that these sorts of establishments have to offer. As an ISFP, you would not have the ISFJ's strong need for security and value for structure, so in a big corporation you'd be more likely to feel a bit like a random number in a huge crowd; a feeling that probably wouldn't give you any ISFP warm-fuzzies (although I suspect it would for an ISFJ). So, which are you, the ISFP or the ISFJ? Or are you socionics.com's ISFj, which the rest of the world calls ISFP? (sigh)
The next question I want to ask you is whether or not your specific job that you do for this large corporation is in line with who you are as a person? There are so many different fields within the corporate world that it makes sense to ask if you are unhappy with your field, or if you just don't like the corporate world in general? From a practical perspective, corporations are huge employers, and I think it's certainly possible for most people (and types) to be happy within their job in the corporate world, even if they don't consider themselves to be business people or corporate players.
And then there is the question of whether or not you're willing to go back to being a beginner in a new field. When I left my "big corporate career", it was very hard to make the shift from being a well-respected, well-paid professional to being an unknown who had to worry about money. Certainly it took a long time to build myself back up again. I don't know how accomplished you are in your field, but if you are switching to something new, you need to be prepared for everything that goes along with being a newbie. If you decide that your calling in life is to be an oil painter, that's great! But don't expect to become a talented and accomplished painter overnight; don't expect to see your paintings hanging on the walls of MOMA any time in the near future. True skills and abilities must be learned, practiced and honed, which can take a long time. Sometimes we take our accomplishments for granted, and just assume that if we are good at one thing we will be good at another. There's a bit of truth to that, there are people who seem to be disgustingly good at everything they try, but most of us slobs need to work really hard to be successful. And it kinda sucks to be poor... it's awfully hard to take a pay cut. Are you willing to face these things in your efforts to build a better future? If so, then I'm excited for you! Because you can do anything you want to do. There is no one right way to live this life.
In terms of practical steps you can take to find a career that is aligned with your personality, I will refer you to these two pages: the ISFP Careers page and the ISFJ Careers page, one of which (depending on that J/P thing) will be a great place to start. I have also included a chart of common careers for personality types with this response.
I wish you insight and revelation in your quest, Zak, and congratulate you on caring enough to find your own path.
All the best,
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