How Do You Know when it’s Time to Pursue a New Interest?
Photo courtesy of Luca Boldrini.

How Do You Know when it’s Time to Pursue a New Interest?

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

I was recently in a situation that you’re probably familiar with. I’d just introduced someone to the concept of multipotentiality for the first time and she was looking at me in disbelief.

The questions started coming: “So how do you…?”, “What happens when…?”, “Why do you..?” So I began trying to help her make sense of what I was saying.

And then she asked me a question I hadn’t been asked before: “How do you know when it’s time to start a new interest?”

I tried to formulate a response, but nothing came out. Maybe you can help me work out how it is we know when it’s time to start something new?

A Battle Between the Usual Suspects

Knowing it’s time to quit one interest and start another seems to be to do with a push/pull balance. You get to a point when you start to push away from something that’s become painful or boring in some sense, and you feel a pull towards a fresh start.

1) Boredom versus excitement

All new interests generate a high level of excitement. They’re much like the start of a new year in that they make the future feel full of potential. Old interests feel as though they’ve been sucked dry of all of this excitement.

Multipotentialites crave the new, the novel, and the unexplored, so they often feel a pull towards interests that will take them somewhere they haven’t been before.

2) Resistance versus ease

We all go through periods of procrastination and putting things off. Sometimes this behavior is simply due to a lack of momentum or motivation, but at other times it is a clear indicator that all is not well.

Humans tend to strive for the path of least resistance, so when the going gets tough, we often feel like quitting. Thinking back, have you ever dropped an interest when it became too challenging or because it took you outside of your comfort zone? I know I have.

I often find it difficult to work out whether the resistance I’m feeling is the type that I need to push through (a challenging learning curve), or whether it’s actually a sign that the end of my interest is in sight. Either way, resistance often suggests a change might be coming.

3) Self-restraint versus cravings

As a multipotentialite, you’ve probably got a mental list of possible new interests. So it’s probably fair to assume that the temptation of new interests is never that far away.

So why is it that we don’t drop old interests and pick up new ones on a daily or weekly basis? Why do we not give into our cravings more easily?

There are so many different influences pushing and pulling us that it’s a wonder we’re ever able to make a decision at all!

I’m really interested to hear your take on what it is that signals that it’s time to start a new interest. Let’s get a discussion going below.

Over to you!

How do you know when the time is right to start a new interest? Is it because your existing interests run their course, the magnetic pull of a shiny new interest, or something else entirely?

bevBev is an artist, creativity coach and founder of Kickass Creatives, a website offering practical support to frustrated creatives. She’s over 20 years of working in the arts: experimenting with everything from performing in a fire circus and managing a hiphop dance company, through to web consultancy and jewellery design. Bev is passionate about using her experience to enable others to fully develop (rather than hide) their multitude of talents too. Connect with her on Twitter @creativekickass.

Don’t forget that Multi-Passionate Must-Haves is happening from May 12-14. Learn more here.

9 Comments

  1. Dick says:

    I love your stuff, Emilie (and Bev) — the problem is, at least for me, how to stop my mind from drifting off regularly to other interests when I have business I should be attending to at the moment. I agree that it is possible to pursue many interests (or businesses) at one time, but I also believe that being spread too thin is not a good route to success.

    All is to say, it’s an interesting discussion. Glad you’re addressing it!

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Dick,

      When I’m focusing on a project and shiny ideas pop into my head, I try to jot them down in my notebook and return to them later. Then after I’ve gotten a good amount done on my primary focus, I’ll set a timer for 20-40 minutes and let myself go down the rabbit hole. Just one strategy I’ve found to deal with the shiny objects.

      Also, I have an easier time focusing on a priority project when I allow myself some dabbling time. Then my body doesn’t feel like rebelling the whole time. :)

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Dick
      I like the idea of blocking out time for each interest and some time to just surf/browse/research random stuff too. Whenever we try to deny ourselves something we seem to crave it even more, and cravings are stronger than willpower. By setting some time aside so you can follow up later on whatever is distracting, it will often satiate that craving and let you get on with what you need to focus on at the moment. :)

  2. Nela says:

    This is related to a blog post I wrote about letting go of old dreams http://neladunato.com/blog/letting-go-of-old-dreams/

    I identified that what were once my passion projects started feeling like a chore, and the more I worked on them the more I resented them.

    After giving it some serious thought, I finally got over that fear of being a flake, and concieved a completely new dream that has already evolved into something way bigger than any of my previous projects, AND this new dream is combining several of my interests and provides so much learning opportunities.

    I would love to share this story on the Puttylike blog one day when I’m ready to reveal my project to the public, if you would have me as a guest :)

    In any case, I agree that the criteria you Bev mentioned applied to my situation as well.
    In a way I realized I got what I needed from the experience, and pursuing it further was more of an ego drive than a real desire for creative exploration.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Nela
      Yep, when something starts to feel like a chore rather than a pleasure, it’s a clear signal that something needs to change. I guess too that many of us still get caught up in the conventional wisdom that we need to keep going to the end, no matter how irrelevant or tedious the activity has become. It’s refreshing and freeing to know that we have the choice to just drop the interest and walk away when we’ve had enough. :0

      • Nela says:

        That’s is so true – the question is whether we can just tweak things a bit to make it more aligned with what we need, or if there’s absolutely no help and we need to shelve the project altogether.

        I’m not sure yet if there’s a clear way to tell which one it’s really about, but I’d try tweaking first, to see if it works.

  3. Johoanna says:

    Before yesterday I didn’t know what multipotentiality was. I’ve been on a steep learning curve and now my whole life makes much more sense.

    I tend to switch focus for two main reasons: boredom or frustration.

    I get bored easily. I don’t like repetitive tasks. I don’t like to feel like I’m in a factory churning out a hundred gazillion of the same or similar thing. Which is probably why I have so many things going on at the same time.

    I often get frustrated as well, which is one reason why I’ve found it challenging to get a business up and running. If I don’t see a response in a short time then I tend to throw my hands up in the air and try something different. I’m trying really hard not to do that this time. I’m learning to stick with it and not give in so easily. Doesn’t mean I can’t try something a little different though.

  4. Alexis says:

    It’s hard to let some dreams go, and hard to have the courage to start new ones. I’ve found that letting some of them go can be really liberating and it’s exciting to see whats new for your life. I think it’s time to find a new interest when you can’t seem to get what you want to accomplish and you’re feeling burnt out. I think my previous interests ran their course but are still sitting on the sidelines for me if I ever want to come back to them.

  5. Michelle says:

    This question really spoke to me! I am brand new to this site, and already feel like you’ve pinpointed every aspect of my life thus far. So thank you :)

    I have been through numerous cycles of new interests, getting very excited at first and making 10 year plans for each one, thinking “this is finally it”. Come to find out, it’s not, and the next one probably won’t be either, despite what my brain will tell me at first. I’ve had an immense amount of frustration after each of these, dwelling on them for a short time before they eventually go to the back of my mind to make room for the next one. For me it just sort of happens that way, vs. making a conscious decision to move to the next one. I am still experiencing a lot of frustration over them, but since I now know that there are others that do the same thing, I’m beginning to come to terms with the way my mind works and trying hard to accept it.

    On a related note, has anyone had to deal with their numerous hobbies eventually getting expensive and creating a “surplus”? Example: I was on a bottle-cap jewelry making kick for a while, making a bunch of stuff, until I realized “what am I going to do with all of this?” It was a lot more jewelry than the average person needs…I loved making them, but my realization that I’d be spending too much money on it led me away from that hobby.