There’s a certain question that arises the moment you realize you’re a multipotentialite. It goes something like this:
“I’m a multipod, great! But um… Now, how do I make a living?”
The “work question” is almost certainly the biggest, most pressing, anxiety-inducing issue that multipotentialites face.
There are an innumerable number of ways of structuring your work, but that only makes it feel more daunting, since we are lacking an established model or path. To make matters even more complicated, thriving financially as a multipotentialite often means forging your own way or doing your own thing, which is scary in-and-of-itself.
As I work on my new book, I’ve been looking at the happy and successful multipotentialites that I know, and trying to put together some commonly used work models.
In truth, most people are hybrids, but I think that it’s helpful to delineate some common models so that people have something to start with as they go about designing their own unique approach to work.
Each of these models starts with the premise that, in order to be happy, multipotentialites require two things:
- Variety (not too much, not too little, amount varies per person)
- Meaning (a sense that you’re making a difference in the world)
- Money (the right amount for you, varies from person to person)
4 Work Models Commonly Used by Multipotentialites
There are four main work models that I’ve observed in the multipotentialite community.
Model #1: The Group Hug Approach
The “group hug” approach is interdisciplinary and allows you to smoosh many of your interests together. It involves having one job or business that is multifaceted and allows you to use many different passions, interests and skills in your work.
From an employment perspective, it might mean working at a startup or small company, or just an organization that allows you to wear many different hats on the job.
From a self-employment stance, this would be the Renaissance Business: one business that allows you to integrate and use many different interests in your work.
The opposite of this approach would be the narrow job title or the niche business.
Model #2: The Slash Approach
The slash approach involves having two or more narrow jobs or businesses that you shift between. Your various projects remain separate and are not overtly combined.
This is the person who does graphic design part time and teaches yoga part time. It’s the lawyer/minister or the therapist/luthier.
From a self-employment perspective, it’s the lateral freelancer or the person who has multiple, unrelated niche sites or narrow businesses.
Unlike the “group hug” approach, your interests remain separate, and instead of getting the variety you require internally (in one project), you get it through pairing together multiple narrow revenue streams.
Model #3: The Einstein Approach
Did you know that Albert Einstein had a day job working at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property evaluating patent applications? It was this very stable, menial job that left him with time and creative energy to work on his discoveries.
Many multipotentialites find themselves day jobs that they enjoy but aren’t particularly interdisciplinary or don’t rely on their multipotentialite super powers. Yet because this job doesn’t take up much time and/or creative energy, they are able to engage with their other projects and passions outside of their work.
From a self-employment perspective, this might be the consultant or web designer who has found a well-paying income stream that they can use to support themselves while they play with their other interests on the side.
The Einstein Approach is sometimes used as a transitional tool. For example, multipotentialites often use a secure day job or income stream to provide security while building a Renaissance business or developing additional revenue streams. Once that side project is generating enough income, they might quit their job or stop consulting.
Model #4: The Serial Approach
This model is best used by multipotentialites who are more sequential in nature. It involves working in job for a period of time– 4 years, 6 years, whatever feels right for you. And then when the boredom hits, shifting to an entirely new field altogether.
Serial careerists often begin researching their new fields casually, on the side, a long time before switching. Sometimes they use the connections, resources and knowledge from their current work to help them transition.
From a self-employment perspective, this would be the serial entrepreneur. Someone who starts a business, runs it for a while and either lets it go, sells it or automates it and steps away. Then they start a new business and begin all over again.
As I mentioned earlier, many multipotentialites are hybrids and draw from several of these models. Many of us morph between them occasionally and it’s often possible to see how your approach could fit into more than one model depending on how you look at it.
However, I’m hoping that having these structures delineated in my book will help people get a sense of the different ways that they can obtain variety in their lives and provide a good starting point.
A Call for Case Studies
Thanks to everyone who has reached out. I’m no longer in need of case studies, but I will definitely let you know (via the blog and email list) if this changes.
Which work model best describes your approach to work? Are these 4 models helpful? Can you think of any other multipod-friendly approaches that I left out?
Emilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist. Learn more about Emilie here.