Is there a Multipotentialite Nemesis?
Photo courtesy of Louis K.

Is there a Multipotentialite Nemesis?

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

If I were to ask you what the biggest challenge you face as a multipotentialite is, what would you say?

Reading through the comments on Puttylike and the threads on Puttytribe, it seems there are some very common challenges we all face. This got me wondering if they are all endured equally, or whether some are more painful, or seemingly insurmountable, than the others. Is there even a multipotentialite nemesis?

Rather than ponder this alone I decided it would be a good idea to test out this notion, and where better to do that than right here with you guys?

With a little help from a few friends, I’ve drawn up a shortlist of five of the usual suspects to contend for the title, and I’d like to ask you guys for your feedback. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the contenders…

1) Time?

Or specifically a lack of it. As a multipotentialite, we’re always up against time and find ourselves saying things like:

“How can I do all of the things I want when there just isn’t enough time?”

“I’m 20/30/40/50+ years old (delete as appropriate), shouldn’t I have done something important with my life by now?”

Time can be a double edged sword: guilt-tripping yourself about how much time you’ve already wasted, and then panicking that there’ll never be enough left for everything you want to achieve.

2) Choice paralysis?

The trouble with having so many interests is that you can end up in choice paralysis. Unsure of which to start first, it’s easy to end up starting nothing:

“What if I make the wrong choice? I don’t want to waste all my time and energy doing the wrong thing.”

If you get caught in choice paralysis, you find yourself going round and around, but never moving any further forward. Actually getting started seems to be continually just beyond your grasp.

3) Overwhelm?

Multipods are naturally curious by nature and eager to learn. We consume huge quantities of information, voraciously absorbing everything until one day … pop! Our mind becomes overloaded and we hit overwhelm.

We slink away like wounded animals to the sanctuary of a stimulation free space. We withdraw from the internet, social media and even the people around us, as we nurse our sore heads and wonder how long it will take to recover this time.

4) Dealing with a specialist-focused world?

Are you fed up with tackling those awkward conversations with everyone from your family and friends, to your career advisers and employers? You’ve probably tried (hopelessly) to convince them all why music, law and marine biology make such a fantastic and complementary combination.

You’re also likely to be well-versed in excuses as to why your CV looks like it should belong to 10 different people, and why you seem incapable of staying in one job for longer than 12 months at a time.

5) Never ‘finishing’ anything?

Leaving a trail of destruction, with half-finished projects littering your past. You know it’s what multipods do, but it doesn’t make the guilt and self-doubt any easier.

“What if I never achieve my full potential? What if I spend my whole life like this and have nothing to show for it?”

It can be hard to shake off the conventional wisdom that projects need to be finished. Not as in ‘finished with’ when you’re bored of them, but as in actually completed.

So there you have them folks, the contenders for the title of multipotentialite nemesis. Now it’s your turn…

Over to you!

I’m really interested to hear your opinion. What’s the biggest enemy you face as a multipotentialite? Are there any you struggle with which haven’t made it onto this list? Is there one true nemesis?

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.

26 Comments

  1. Martina T?ešková says:

    My biggest nemesis are people around me who are not supportive of my multipod nature. It’s mostly parents. From their point of view, me, being 25 and not having any job or career path in front of me is absolutely not understandable. And it’s freaking hard for me to not let their point messing with my head.

    The feeling of “Omg, I’ve done NOTHING with my life so far, I should be somewhere else, doing something else or I should have something to show” is also insanely painful sometimes. Mostly I’m perfectly alright with who I am but we all have our week moments when these things attack.

    • Marc says:

      I’ve felt this so many times. My family are unfortunately the least supportive people in my life. They don’t understand why I’m not in school pursuing a degree, but working on a bunch of different projects instead. My solution has become to get away from them so they can’t be so judgmental. I’m leaving in a few months to start travelling the world, but I’ll be staying in a few places for a few months so I can better focus on work and product launches during those periods.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Martina

      Yep, your family ‘not getting’ your multipod-ness is a tough one. It strikes at the very core as it’s part of who you are, not just what you’re doing.

      As for the ‘I should have done something with my life by now’ feeling, I think this is sooo common for multipods. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that multipods are at heart, very high achievers (or have the potential to be).

      By the nature of spreading ourselves across multiple projects, progress can be slower than if you were focused on doing one thing. I think this is the cause of much frustration – we know we have the potential, but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere very fast. :)

    • The words and attitudes of others only have the power that you give them.

      Which I understand is one of those kinds of things that people freak out about when you say it out loud (goodness knows I did the first time I really listened to it), but it is absolutely, 100% true.

      You decide how other people will affect you. You decide what their jurisdiction is over your own life. And, until you decide to be the one with executive control over the definition of all that gives your life meaning and purpose, you will never be happy.

      Why? Because you’ll always be trying to please others, thinking that, if you please them, they’ll be happy with you, and you need their happiness with you in order to be happy with yourself.

      But you don’t. The mere fact that you choose what power they have over your life, thoughts, and beliefs means that you are already the one with power in your own life. Will you run away from it and make everyone else decide how you do life, or will you come of age and accept both the power and the responsibility you’ve been born with?

      In some areas, this is easier than others. We don’t like being the only one accountable for our actions. We don’t like being responsible for our failures, and we’re afraid that, if we succeed, we’ll have to change.

      Yes, there are toxic people and keeping them around is only going to hurt you. But be cautious to give that label to those who simply don’t see life the way you see it. They may, in fact, be your greatest allies, who love you and want the best for you. They really do care more about the benefit you will receive in your life than the benefit they will receive from your life; they just have different ideas about how you might achieve that benefit, or what is really beneficial to you.

      This is a summary of the all the things I’ve learned in the past year that have not only resonated as true with me, but have also helped me to grow by leaps and bounds in every single area of my life. Nothing else I’ve tried has been this effective, and I know it will help you if you put it into practise, believing it to be true.

      You are awesome -I believe that with all of my heart- and I believe in you and know that you can accomplish great things with your life. And that you will love the journey. :)

      • Martina T?ešková says:

        You are perfectly right and I can confirm that this attitude already changed my life significantly as wekk, as I learned how to cut myself off toxic people mostly. Fake friends, people who only make fun of you and they just don’t get how much it’s hurting you even when it’s kinda innocent. They were quite easy to get rid off and I learned how to never let anybody like that sneak back in to my life. Instead of that I love to surround myself by my likes who might not have the same projects and passions on mind but they do understand me as they are also multipods (even if they don’t know the term ;)) I’m sort of working on building my new confidence as a multipod.

        But parents? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get rid of their influence. I’ve spent way too many years in the same small flat with them and their nature messed with my head too badly, I can see it quite clear now. I’m not with them anymore but still I can’t stop having them as the people I want to please and prove somehow wrong about me. I want to show them.

        Good thing is, I’m not trying to please them by fullfilling their wishes anymore, I’m totally pursuing my own now, but still. They are the first people I’d run to with “look what I achieved!”, looking for some (finally) positive response.

        It’s not like it’s all their fault, though. I’ve had some serious failures in life and I most likely wouldn’t if I listened to them :D But I still think a messed up kid needs something else then “Told you!”.

        Sigh, I guess this will take a lot of work to fix :) But it’s already much easier now that I don’t live with them.

        • Hey, so long as you realize there’s a problem, you’ve already taken the first step in fixing it. :) Something that may aide you on your next step is asking yourself: “What area of lack do I think my positive responses from my parents will fill?”

          Once you’ve identified what it is, then you can ask yourself: “What is the healthiest way I know at this moment to fill this need?”

          And, bam! You’ve just figured out how to upgrade your life. :)

    • Debi says:

      I’m not finding the comment you just made but wanted to respond to it. I’m over 50 and finally realized part of the problem with my dad (my only living parent) was that he wanted more for me than I had and he didn’t know how to relate to me being OK with my place in life (it’s very simple and low key). I’m also not likely to get an “I’m proud of you” statement from him and I’m OK with that now too.

      Yep, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned a lot from those mistakes. I can share that experience with others. Our society often sees mistakes as bad things, but they really aren’t. Inventors usually attempt the same thing many times before getting it right … some would say mistakes and some would say otherwise. If we never step out and try something, we don’t ever know if it will work for us or not. Any action is better than no action. If we discover we are going in the wrong direction, we ca always do a U&-turn and get back on track. The road to success is not typically a straight line … it meanders around A LOT before we get there.

      Find a group of people who are supportive of your endeavors. Then you don’t need to worry about the folks. Most folks just really want us to be happy. When they realize you are truly happy, they often change and the judgement falls away.

  2. Melayahm says:

    ALL OF THEM! I know that I could get some more time if I never watched tv, got on my laptop or went to visit friends, but the choice paralysis means that I tend to just veg out. There is a poem written for us, (also probably single parents), by A A Milne, called The Old Sailor. Google, you will know what I mean.

    • Debi says:

      Tend to be on the same page as Melayahm … all of them can pose equally, almost insurmountable barriers … invisible, of course, but still almost insurmountable.

      My work history is consistently along a similar line, but my hobbies and interests are definitely a portfolio showing a lot of diversity. Many employers today are looking for diversity as their employees need to wear many hats … that broad CV can be a really good thing.

      I’m working on developing a schedule with blocks of manageable time. Hopefully this will allow me to focus on tasks at hand and also have blocks for things like reading and/or working on a project … any book or project, just as long as I’m doing something. It should stop the “free-fall” kind of thing I’ve had going on that seems to be non-productive.

      • Bev Webb says:

        Hi Debi. I love that you describe them as ‘invisible’ – they are so powerful and yet total ethereal.

        I agree that a broad CV can be an extremely good thing, it’s just getting the pitch right. It can be so easy to confuse a potential employer – I often find I need to work to pull out a coherent narrative that they will understand. A bit like an over-arching theme (for a Renaissance Business) so they can see how it all complements and fits together.

        Blocking time is a really good technique. It helps with the panic that something will get missed out too due to time shortage. Let us know how you get on with it. :)

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Melayahm. I thnk a lot of folk on here will be nodding and agreeing with you!

      There would be more time if you didn’t watch TV etc, but everyone needs some downtime too. Both to ‘unwind’ (multipod minds tend to whirr at extremely high speeds) and also to digest and process all that info we’re taken in.

      I’m a firm believer that just because you’re not consciously working on something, it doesn’t mean that you’re sub-conscious isn’t beavering away on it. Hence the need for downtime. :)

  3. Margaux says:

    f) All of the above.

    There’s also another I would call “inertia” which causes me to become binary in terms of activity. Either I’m juggling 15 things at the same time or I’m a vegetable and pencil puzzles are the only thing I can manage to work up any energy for. And sleeping.

    I suppose those downtimes could be caused by “overwhelm.”

    What really makes me feel badly about myself is “never finishing anything”—although it wouldn’t be so much a problem for me if other people didn’t find it so damned important. I recognise that success comes from having “finished” products. That doesn’t mean that you had to be the one to finish it, but still, “finishing what you start” seems to be a huge deal for most people. As a multipod, I feel this is the harshest external/internal criticism to overcome.

    Because the others on this list have real life examples of acceptable heroes and solutions.

    No time? Get organised and schedule stuff. Or hire someone to do it for you.

    Too much choice? Same as above. Schedule and break things into smaller hits.

    Overwhelm? Stop punishing yourself. Take a break if that’s what your brain and body demand.

    Not being a specialist? There are many people who manage to pull together a life that requires superficial knowledge of a lot of things. If you can suffer being looked down upon by specialists, you can still easily carve out a living.

    But not getting stuff done? Um. There are huge huge huge downsides and frowny faces all around from even the nicest, most tolerant people in the world. It’s difficult to keep clients or find new jobs if you don’t have evidence that you can finish what you start. The only solution to this (that I know of) is to build a team of people around you who are great at picking up where you leave off and finishing the project. Collaboration, but with non-multipod specialists, is the key here. Trouble is finding those people who are willing to collaborate in this way with you.

    Speaking of being made to feel badly, what’s wrong with being a dilettante? It’s really a shame that you can’t take back the original meanings of words. “Etymology: Italian, lover of the arts, from present participle of dilettare, to delight, from Latin delectare; see delight.”

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Margaux. Thanks for the great feedback! I too love the real definition of ‘dilettante’ – it’s something we all would want to aspire too.

      I really like how you describe “that success comes from having “finished” products.” It’s so true, that to the outside world (everywhere beyond your own mind) that at the end of the day, they’re what you’ll be judged on. Your completed body of work. It’s certainly a fundamental issue for most multipods to tackle.

      I have to say, however, that I do think time is a big issue for many of us. When you’re working 40 hours a week in a ‘keep the roof over your head’ type job, you run out of hours in the day to work on your own projects/passions. Productivity techniques can help, but it can be hard to avoid overwhelm if you don’t also have enough downtime.

      I think it’s such a complex balancing act which we each have to perform, as many of the problems we face are inter-linked and can start to tumble like a line of dominoes! :)

    • Emilie says:

      Great points, Margaux. I just wanted to throw in a note that I actually made a video about the dilettante idea a while ago (though I explored the word “amateur”):

      http://puttylike.com/what-it-means-to-be-an-amateur/

      Totally agree.

  4. For me, my multipotentialite nemesis is definitely time. I fend off overwhelm easily, am able to be decisive (when necessary), and can finish what I start (and more importantly, limit what I start). But I’m normally no match for the relentless march of time.

    • Margaux says:

      Right, but then who is, Joel? We all have the same number of hours in the day. Even specialists get mid-life crisis. So we’re all up against the same time restrictions, even the non-multipods. I don’t find time to be an exclusive issue to multipods. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, not many of whom would be rightly called a multipod, but they all complain about the time problem, too.

      I think the time problem is for anyone who has lots of goals and ambition.

      • Bev Webb says:

        Hi Margaux. I’m really intrigued by whether the ultimate multipod nemesis, is actually something that’s specific to us as multis, or whether the stronger pull is from issues which effect all of us as humans. Could it be that the greatest problem is those we recognise as a species?

        Wow, into the world of philosophy we wander! ;)

    • Bev Webb says:

      Thanks Joel! Time is for many a huge issue. Juggling full time work, family, small children … it can be difficult to strike a balance.

      I find with age, comes a greater fear of the relentless march of time. A greater urgency ensues and the feeling that there will never be enough of it. :)

    • Emilie says:

      I’m curious Joel how minimalism affected your sense of time? I’ve been thinking more and more about how a consumer culture might be the force that pushes us to work so many hours. And maybe adopting a simpler way of life (or just buying less) could really help us multipods work fewer hours and free up that time for our various projects. Check out this article:

      http://libcom.org/library/phenomenon-bullshit-jobs-david-graeber

  5. Marc says:

    I was originally going to agree with Margaux that finishing projects is the greatest enemy of a multipotentialite, but as I was writing my response I realized that’s no longer true for me. My greatest enemy is fear. A fear of rejection, or that the work I do isn’t good enough.

    Earlier this year I really started to commit to finishing projects. I finished a couple short novels, edited them, and was quite pleased with them, but when it came time to send them out into the world I couldn’t do it. Even though I thought they were pretty good, I was scared they were actually much worse and I didn’t want others to lay their eyes on my work. I was scared that I was somehow blinded by my hopes that I’d created something good.

    I am trying to combat that fear though. I’m working on some new projects now, and instead of making them independent projects I’ve also started a blog that deals with the same topics. My thoughts in doing this is that if I can already have an audience that I know likes my writing (they are reading my blog posts after all), I might be able to get a few of them to look over my projects before a wide release to get some form of validation that they’re actually quality pieces of work.

    I think any enemy can be beaten, it just takes time, work, and focus. I struggled with each of the things listed in the post, but I worked my way through them, now I’m working through what I think is best classified as a fear of rejection, and I’m positive I’ll beat that one, too.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Marc. I love that you say “…any enemy can be beaten, it just takes time, work, and focus.” So true.

      Creativity, and how it works, is a huge fascination of mine. As a creator, you become personally entwined in the things which you create. It can feel as though anyone judging your work, is also judging you too.

      This link begins to fade with time as we become less precious about each creation. When something is newly made, we are still evaluating it ourselves – Is it any good? Is it finished or does it need more work? Do I like it? Time gives us a chance to settle on our responses to these questions and this helps us to separate ourselves from the work. As does the process of moving on to create the next work, and the one after that.

      Fear’s power is the unknown. If you can pin down what the fear is, and take steps to mitigate against any risks (by having a plan), then you begin to diffuse its grip over you.

      By posting to your blog, you’ve taken steps to mitigate against any ‘big rejections’ by introducing your work gradually and to an audience you’ve already ‘warmed up.’ :)

  6. Rob Farquhar says:

    Not finishing what I start. Definitely. Thankfully, I’ve done some big projects in the last couple of months, but I still have this trouble of being distracted by the Oooh, Shiny and New! and putting the other things aside.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Rob. Oooooh, I always find it hard to resist those shiny, new things! For me, I’ve found that I need to make some tough decisions about what to ‘finish’ (as in complete), and what to toss aside when I’m done with it.

      It’s only the projects that really matter to me that I’ll push through to the end. Everything else can stay suspended in stasis! :)

  7. Rachel says:

    Definitely overwhelm. I have a tendency to load up my schedule with activities, freelance jobs and business ventures until I can’t take it anymore and then I quit everything…and repeat the process again. I’m trying to avoid this by being very selective about what activities I take on in the first place. I’m finally getting together an evaluation system, and looking at ways I can have an experience without committing to it in a big way. ie instead of applying to become a columnist with a website, maybe I can write the same content on my own blog. If I decide I don’t enjoy it, I can just stop! No job-quitting or awkward conversations necessary.

  8. Dean says:

    I have to say #2) Choice paralysis.

    After having made a lot of mistakes that my family had to suffer for, I have a hard time making choices.

    It’s really no fun having to drag your children through bankruptcy court because you made the wrong decisions.

    Even though my kids are older now, I have trouble trusting myself to make the right decisions if someone else may have to suffer as a result.
    That has caused me to “play it safe” far too often, but I’m working on improving.

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