All my fellow INFPs can probably relay at least many handfuls of times where they started something they never end up finishing. We go into things with such passion and an honest intention of completing them. However, after a few weeks, days, or just hours, we get distracted by something else. This distraction can lead to other distractions. Soon, the passionate project we want to complete continues to only be an idea in our head. INFP seems to stand for I Never Finish Projects.
What Causes Us To Not Finish Projects
1. Aiming too High
Sometimes we create a very robust idea that would take a lot of time and effort. It is not to say it can’t be done, but it just won’t be done as fast as an INFP would like: immediately. Sometimes if there is a deadline set for us, the grandiose ideas can’t be accomplished in that time frame. This can cause an INFP to give up completely on the idea because it will never be as good as they wanted. Or they will put things off because they are afraid they won’t be able to meet those expectations. I personally think the phrase “lazy perfectionist” was created for the INFP. We want to perfect things but can lack the motivation.
2. Fear of being judged
One of the reasons I decided not to pursue a career in art even though it was a passion of mine was because I felt I would never be good enough. This is often a reason for many of my own projects to end up in my graveyard of good ideas that never were. Let’s think of the example of writing a novel. An INFP might start out writing the first chapter of their story and then slowly re-reading it and then editing it over and over without continuing to the next part. They might get upset that it is just not sounding good enough. Then they avoid finishing that chapter. Avoiding finishing that chapter means they can’t start the next one and soon, none of it gets done. These negative thoughts pop in and don’t allow us to get past the starting point and finishing our projects.
3. Focusing on the end result and not the process
A lot of INFP project ideas are based off passions they have. They might want to write a novel because they love writing. However, they can get stuck on the end goal. I love drawing, but sometimes I never finish a picture because I believe the end process won’t look as amazing as I want. That thought right there is ignoring my passion for drawing. The only way I can get better is to continuously draw. Yet, I am avoiding finishing because my end result might not be good enough. Are you understanding the flaw in this thinking? If I never draw, then my end result will never become better. If you never write, then you will never write a good novel. The focus on the end result can keep us from finishing what we started and improving.
What can we do to finish projects
1. Break our idea into smaller ideas
To combat our high expectations we should still aim high, but break our goals down so we are aiming just right for each one. Instead of our project being I am going to write a fantasy trilogy and create a whole different world, it can be I am going to create one character. That seems less daunting and more achievable. We can spend time and make that one character great, and then move onto to the next goal of creating one village in this fantasy world, and so on.
2. Set Realistic Expectations and Goals
If there is a deadline, we have to just accept that we might not be able to perfect the idea we wanted. In the idea making process of a project, only set goals you can actually meet. Consider how video games work. You often won’t be able to beat hard mode or nightmare mode unless you have completed the game on easy or normal mode. Think of the additional ideas as upgrades that you can only level up once you meet the initial requirements. You can’t access nightmare mode until normal mode is completed. With that type of thinking, at least your project will be completed by the deadline, even if you can’t get to all the extra upgrades you wanted.
3. Stop focusing on negative thoughts
When you came up with the idea or project, you probably had all these positive thoughts and excitement towards the project. However, as you start creating, negative thoughts can creep in. Don’t let them infect your initial passion towards the project. It can be very difficult to combat these negative thoughts. Try keeping a journal where you make sure to write four or five positive thoughts about the project a day. When you are feeling negative you can look back at what you wrote and remember the initial passion and positivity you had towards the project. I often can get recharged on my idea when I am feeling positive or when something inspires me.
4. Realize that no results is worse than “bad” results
People might think it is worthless if what they create doesn’t turn out how they wanted. Sometimes we won’t get it right on our first project or first attempt. However, we can still gain valuable insights and talents that can be transferred to our next project. Look up videos on people’s first drawings and how they draw now. The first drawings are often not very good. However, their talent currently is amazing. It obviously took a lot of attempts before they could get to that point. Think of every attempt as a learning process. Embrace the fact that you were an INFP that could finish what you started, regardless of the result.
This is exactly what I needed, fellow human being
I did a somewhat large project with an INFP co-founder and it was an absolute nightmare because of this. The big issue was he completely missed the second part of the this post, actual recognition of a behavioral-pattern then deliberate action to remedy the issue. The project crashed and burned because of drama related to this and it really damaged our relationship. Shame because there are actual mechanisms for growth. (I’m an INTJ btw and realized my work style is not compatible with his. Not to say all INFPs but the ones that are under-developed in this area.)