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Still Not Sure ‘What to Be When You Grow Up?’
Do you have so many different interests and passions the concept of settling into one career always felt awful to you?
If so, do you recognize yourself in these descriptions?
- Afraid you’ll either have to settle into a career and stick with it for life (boring!). Or, pursue your many, unrelated passions that will leave you penniless and unable to support your family.
- Well beyond your college years but still clueless about what you want to be when you grow up. You feel like something is wrong with you.
- Often described as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. You are quickly excited about many, completely unrelated topics, but you may lose interest just as quickly.
- Someone with a zest for life and a love of new experiences and learning for the sake of learning.
- Very successful in your field, but bored to death and looking to change directions – again. To the horror and disbelief of those around you.
If this sounds like you, chances are, you are frustrated. Or worse, you are desperate because you can’t seem to “get it together.” It’s even possible, in your attempt to keep your options open in order to satisfy all your different interests, you make no choices at all. You know you have all this potential but lots of it is going unused.
If you’ve ever felt as if something was wrong with you for your inability to stick with a passion, a hobby, an interest, or job, or even a career; take heart. You are completely normal!
So what is going on?
Genetically Wired to Pursue Many Unrelated Interests
You’re part of a group of people genetically wired to be interested in – and pursue – many completely unrelated topics. Barbara Sher calls us “scanners” in her book, Refuse to Choose and Margaret Lobenstine wrote Renaissance Souls about us. Whatever the name, we are multi-talented people trying to fit a million passions into one lifetime.
If you recognize yourself in this personality type and this is the first time you hear about this concept, I’m sure you’ve got all sorts of thoughts and feelings running through you right now.
It’s not uncommon for someone with this trait to go through life unaware of it, feeling misplaced in society and trying hard to fit in.
The good news is it IS possible to live a life that integrates all of your passions – whether it pertains to careers or hobbies, or both.
And it’s definitely a wonderful trait! It makes you a very versatile, flexible, and interesting person.
The Multi-talented Personality’s Place in Society
Even though our culture hasn’t heralded these “renaissance personalities” during the past 6 decades or so, there are many famous people throughout history who were.
Probably the best-known example is Ben Franklin. If you’re not familiar with his multi-faceted life, just look him up online and you’ll be astounded. And no one in his time would have the audacity to call him a jack-of-all-trades, master of none!
But times are changing again, and I believe we’re entering an era where this personality type is highly valuable. Think globalization and the need for workers to function across disciplines and cultures. Especially in downtimes when resources are scarcer.
3 Main Characteristics of the Multi-talented
Adapted from Margaret Lobenstine’s The Renaissance Soul, these are the three main characteristics of this multi-talented personality type:
1. A preference for variety over a single-minded focus.
This has nothing to do with the ability or inability to focus on what you’re doing at that moment. As you’ll see later on, it’s not ADHD in disguise.
Variety comes in many forms: Some people may pursue many interests simultaneously, others on a rotating basis, or they do it one at a time, after which they move on.
2. The multi-talented enjoy a work style that doesn’t follow a linear, predictable process.
Their emphasis is on growth and evolution instead of rigid adherence to a plan. This is also why the traditional time management systems typically don’t work for them. What they need is flexible plans. With emphasis on flexible!
3. A sense of success defined by challenges mastered instead of how far up the ladder they’ve climbed.
Multi-talented people love the steep learning curve a new challenge or skill presents. Once they’ve mastered this or solved a problem, they’re done. This is why they their definition of success and completion is very different from other people.
Do you truly fit this personality type? Let’s double check. If you fit the following criteria, the answer is probably “no:”
You have ADHD or you suffer from depression.
Both conditions mimic certain traits of a multi-talented person, but aren’t really. Of course, both those conditions and being multi-talented are not mutually exclusive. However, having ADHD or being depressed can easily make you believe you fit the multi-talented personality type. This is because depression creates a fragmented consciousness.
You are very happy to be absorbed in one career or field.
In other words: you’re a specialist. Professions that typically lend themselves to this category are musicians, doctors, scientists, athletes, financiers, mathematicians. Sure, you relax with a hobby, but you’re not really passionate about anything but your own field.
You’re not choosing a direction because you are afraid to be mediocre or even fail when you commit to something.
But deep down you know what you want to do.
You like to job hop because you keep finding better offers.
However, you’re staying in the same field. Therefore, you do not qualify as a multi-talented personality.
It’s important to have clarity about this so you can either get to the root of what’s bothering or driving you.
For the truly multi-talented personality: Know that not only society is changing, but that you can make changes in your life as well. There are several strategies and tools for you to make the most of your unique trait. Keep your eyes out for more posts on this topic!
[This article was originally posted on an earlier date]
Ilona Vanderwoude, founder of CareerBranches, is a career designer who helps her clients fit a million passions into one lifetime while providing the tactical support to actually make it happen.
Photo credit: Shutterstock