“Why am I Neglecting My Interests?”
Photo courtesy of Morgan.

“Why am I Neglecting My Interests?”

Written by Emilie

Topics: Productivity

This week, I’m sharing something from the mailbag:

Hi Emilie,

First of all I want to thank you for you work. You really opened a wide and beautiful world in front of me.

The thing that is worrying me is that I do want to do a looooot of different things, but it seems like I can’t. Not just because it’s hard to do everything at the same time, but because it’s like I’m avoiding them. I want to make beer, learn watercolour painting, go traveling, work on a farm, and do a lot of other amazing things. But I don’t do any of them. Instead, I spend my day doing everyday things such as cooking, playing sports, meeting up with friends, etc. And all of these other projects I’d like to pursue stay on a side, even though I’m not working right now and have plenty of time.

Is this a problem that other multipotentialites struggle with? Or is it just a personal not-able-to-take-action problem that I need to work on?

Cheers,
Julia

Hi Julia,

Yes, this is absolutely something other multipotentialites struggle with! Here are a few thoughts.

First, you wrote that “it’s hard to do everything at the same time,” and you’re right! Pursuing all of your passions at once is actually a perfect recipe for burnout (and for having zero fun). The goal isn’t to do everything at the same time, it’s to do a variety of things over the course of your life. So don’t worry if you aren’t doing 100 things right this very second. That doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad multipotentialite. Some of us even do one thing at a time.

You didn’t specifically mention this, but a lot of multipotentialites have trouble choosing something to pursue because they are afraid that it means giving up on all of their other dreams. The good news is that just isn’t the case. You can choose something and then choose another thing and then another. Our choices are rarely permanent or irreversible, and it’s very likely that you have plenty of time. (Also, not choosing is itself a choice–often one with more serious consequences.)

I think what you’re dealing with here is a bad case of Resistance. Resistance is that force inside of us that wants to keep us safe by fencing us inside our comfort zone. Its intentions are good (even evolutionarily useful), but it can hold us back from pursuing the projects that are most meaningful to us.

The best antidote to resistance is community. Do you have many people in your life who are pursuing big goals or personal projects? It’s really easy to go with the flow and stick to a comfortable routine when everyone around you is doing the same. And when it comes to getting yourself to take action, there’s really nothing as powerful as surrounding yourself with inspiring and supportive people. If possible, try to spend time around others who are doing interesting things and dreaming up their own paths.

Most of us don’t naturally have lives filled with people like this. If you don’t, you’re always welcome in the Puttytribe. I started the Tribe nearly five years ago because I saw a need for more mutual support and sharing within the multipotentialite community. Many of us don’t know any other multipods in “real life”, and we lack support or mentorship. The Puttytribe can really help with this.

I would also point out that cooking, playing sports, and meeting up with friends are all valuable activities. Granted, you obviously need to find a way to fit some of your bigger, scarier, out-of-your-comfort-zone interests into your life. But don’t discredit the “everyday things.” You didn’t mention your age, and I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending, but as I approach my mid-thirties, I’m realizing more and more how important things like fun, self-care, and relationships actually are.

Finally, I have a hunch that you’re getting close to taking action. It seems like your inaction is starting to get to you. Can you use that feeling of being irritated with yourself and turn it into action? :) (I’ve definitely done this before!) Maybe the itch you’re feeling is the first step to getting something going…?

But, let’s talk baby steps. Can you sign up for a watercolour or beer brewing class? Start small, connect with some supportive people, and taking action will only become easier.

Your pal and fellow multipotentialite,

Emilie

Your Turn

Have you ever felt like you were neglecting your interests? How did you handle it?

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites build lives and careers around ALL their interests. 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 carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.

12 Comments

  1. Maryske says:

    You’re not alone, Julia. This sounds very familiar. I’ve been doing the exact same thing for years. “Being stuck in a rut”, I called it. As Emilie says, with the help of the Puttytribe last year, I was finally more seriously attempting to change the course, but in the end it was first and foremost my financial situation that threw me back into the old rut again (albeit a bit more fun section of it than the past few years).
    Halfway through my present contract, I’m getting more and more itchy again to get out of this workfield. But at least I’m doing something new and fun next to it this time: I’ve been learning (autodidact) to use a photo editing programme, and I’ve been doing video editing, and I’ve made (and am still making) some great projects in that. Most of the time I rush home after work so I can work with on my projects again. And believe me, that’s a major improvement from just coming home and sagging out on the couch in front of a dvd… At least it feels like I’m *learning* something. Something new. Something exciting. And something fun. And I do think that’s partly thanks to the Puttytribe. (Even though lately I’ve been too busy with my photo and video projects to be around the Puttytribe much… :-D)

    And thanks for the reminder, Emilie!

  2. As Maryske says, you are definitely not alone in this Julia. I have spent many years feeling like this. Also, I think it’s particularly easy for multipotentialites to feel this way because we often have so many different things we want to be working on. It always feels there’s something else we could/should/want to be doing.

    I think Emilie’s right in saying it can be harder to start on things that are slightly scary/take you out of your comfort zone. Especially by yourself. I think the idea of signing up to a class is a really good first step to take.

    I think the fact you wrote this message shows you’re ready to make changes and start unsticking yourself from some habits that are making you feel you aren’t moving forward.

    Good luck with it all, I hope it goes well for you. And, as Emilie says, remember you don’t need to do it all at once. Go easy on yourself!

    Ellen

  3. Jodie Utter says:

    Love the question and answer forum, Emilie! Love the baby steps advice too. Been hearing that a lot lately, the tiny steps towards big change concept, I think it’s definitely the way. Thanks so much for all your great work on behalf of all of us other multipotentialites.

  4. Laura says:

    I’ve been struggling with this too lately and it’s very helpful and relieving to see I’m not alone, yay! :D
    Taking baby steps it’s actually working. It doesn’t feel like I’m doing a big thing (fortunately, cause that could be overwhelming) but I feel good and motivated to take the next step… so, for me, this a good and not-that-difficult way to start unblocking yourself ;)

    Thanks for sharing, Emilie, and for all the good advices :)

  5. Cynthia says:

    I have recently found myself stuck in resistance and inaction, and for a LONG time. In fact, so long that I didn’t even realize how unproductive I had become. Inaction is a scary place to be sometimes, because it can lead to intense and constant thinking, which can breed more inaction, lethargy, dullness, etc. Here’s an exercise which really helped me get myself back on track with taking action in way that didn’t make me feel pressured:

    Write down three small you want to do for yourself every day but don’t. Could be anything. For example, I want drink lemon water first thing in the morning every day, I want to be in nature every day, I want to write for 10 minutes ever day, etc. Look in and find three things which you WANT to do everyday but DON’T do (because those things which you’re neglecting are causing blind spots in you). Now, starting doing those three small things every day for a minimum of 21 days.

    I did this exercise and I was shocked by how it gave me a shift in perspective about what I can do every day, how it helped me connect with myself, how it taught me the importance of self-care, and how it rebuilt my trust in myself. I think it’s a particularly good exercise for multi-potentials who tend to start and not finish projects (also something I can write about for days).

    Spiritual teacher Esther (Abraham) Hicks has said, “We can’t get it wrong because you never get it done.” Creativity is limitless. And once we realize that we are unlimited in what we can create, build, and produce (and unlimited in our resources) we free ourselves from the pressure of feeling like we have to get it all done.

  6. I just found this site, and boy, am I glad I did! I had no idea there was a community built around the idea of having multiple strong interests. I kinda thought I was the only one, as silly as that sounds.

    Regarding this particular post: Derek Sivers is one of my favorite writers, and he has a great article on this topic (with similar advice to Emilie’s): https://sivers.org/donkey. It supplements Emilie’s thoughts well.

  7. Craig says:

    Hi Julia,

    I hear what you’re saying and it resonates profoundly with me. I’ve been feeling like this since I quit a job due to Depression nearly 2 years ago. I felt immediately relieved after getting out of a job that was contributing so much to my state of being (in a negative manner). However now that I’ve done a lot of work recovering I still have this sense of not being able to do so many things I want to get done. My Photography is stalled, by writing is stalled and at least a dozen other major things I’d like to achieve. I feel very similar in that it’s like I’m sabotaging myself from starting.

    I recognise there’s fear playing a part and need to springboard into gear. But I also agree with Emilie’s comment about you’re near a point of action. I’ve seen this before in my life, and can recognise that there’s a cathartic moment coming.

    Hold on, I think you’re building up for a jump into new regions.

    Craig.

  8. Stacy says:

    Julia
    Totally get your question and thank you for asking it. It has been nagging at me too without having it completely articulated in my head to be able to understand my own frustration! I think particularly if you feel isolated in your social circle, in the eyes of your parents as someone who just doesn’t finish anything or get anything started, it can feel like the simpler and easier solution is to focus on the other, equally worthy, everyday pursuits. I know for me I think, well I am soon to have two (rather than one) beautiful children, a super understanding, hands on dad type of a husband, my family is healthy (ish) and unlike many, I have been able to move around in my life and am already on my way to purchasing my second family home with my husband as our family has expanded. Why would i want to torture myself with scary things which may fulfill me more?! I think the point is, as Emilie very articulately says, and i am learning, there is no wrong or right way to pursue all those interests…A few together, one at a time. I think for us multipods, it’s as much the journey and knowing it’s ok to do it whichever way so long as we keep staying true to ourselves and our vision for ourselves and our growth. I think my main mantra needs to be, write it down, write it down, write it down. I find journalling, to do listing, big sky ideas recording..Seem to be important for me. I don’t feel then like i have let one interest pass me by, by favouring another one..Especially if i have it written down somewhere to come back to when i am looking for new inspiration. My issue is motivation. It gets easy to stay in the easy, everyday funk and feel busy and purposeful even if there is this nagging inside you. Love the interests you have, good luck with them all!!

  9. Janet says:

    Emilie, excellent article. Thank you for putting it out there. I’ve been hanging onto projects and not doing them. One being I just don’t have the money to fund some of them, and two, which one do I start first. Been waiting for years to do a certain ceramic project and I’m dying to get into doing herbal products, mostly moisturizers and healing salves. Yet everything takes time and money. But just wanted to thank you for all the work you’ve done here. It is such a blessing to know that I am no longer a freak of nature and that everything that I feel and have been experiencing is not just imagined and is alive and well here on Puttylike. LOL

  10. I just wanted to say that I loved this post and that I can´t agree more with Emilie.

    Great advice!

    I am sending all of you big hugs from Uruguay!
    Eagerly waiting for the book to come!

    Guille.

  11. Anssi Turunen says:

    I too think this is a common problem. With kids and a lot of everyday stuff to do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when you actually DO have a couple of hours to spend just for you. When the world is full of interesting things (and it is so easy to stay in the research zone) it’s difficult to decide what exactly to pursue next.

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