Have You Made this Common Multipotentialite Mistake?
Photo courtesy of Joe Stump.

Have You Made this Common Multipotentialite Mistake?

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Featured, Multipotentialite Patterns, Productivity

I’d always thought it was normal to dive head first into five projects at once. Doesn’t everyone work like this?

No, I later found out. Apparently they don’t.

While being a multipotentialite is fantastic, it does present certain challenges. Unfortunately in our modern, specialist-oriented world, we’re often left feeling unprepared for how to handle your very unique characteristics.

Our pluralist desires go against most of the conventional wisdom and what we’re taught by all those around us: our parents, schools, universities and workplaces. The wisdom they dispense tends to all be for specialists.

So how can we learn to manage our very unique set of needs?

For this I’ll need an example multipotentialite. Let’s call him Bob.

Bob has just found out that having multiple interests isn’t some kind of “problem” that needs sorting out. It isn’t anything to do with him needing to “pull himself together” or be “more focused.”

“Yes!” he declares, “I’m a multipotentialite!”

Bob gets very excited. All of those interests, which he’s been denying himself for years, are finally within his grasp. All of the pressure that had built up from ignoring his extensive back-catalogue of unexplored interests, is about to be released.

No longer does he need to pretend to be a specialist.

No longer does Bob need to ignore the gleam of the shiny new ideas as they dangled temptingly in front of him, as though adorning a jewel-encrusted fishhook.

In fact, Bob now eagerly awaits the opportunity to get hooked. Hooked on everything.

“Finally I get to do ALL the things I’m interested in…” he exclaims, “…and seeing as there’s no time like the present, I’m gonna make a start on everything RIGHT NOW!”

So there he is, beavering away intensely for a few weeks.

He subscribes to about a hundred newsletters, enrolls in at least twenty courses, buys a whole new library of books and concocts ideas for more than a handful of start-ups.

He has hardly come up for breath, until one day, he runs straight into it…

Complete and utter overwhelm.

Bob is exhausted. He’s barely able to scan, never mind absorb, the fifty newsletters that arrive daily in his inbox. He hasn’t even had time to open the covers, let alone crack the spines, on all of those new books.

With his initial enthusiasm severely dampened, Bob begins to wonder if all of this is worth it. What the heck has he gotten himself into?

He looks back at all the effort he’s already put in (and on top of his day job to boot), and wonders what it was all for. He can’t see that he’s made the merest hint of progress on any of his endeavors. His house is strewn with the half-started, half-finished remains of dozens of projects.

What Bob hadn’t realised yet was that:

Multipotentiality is for life. You don’t have to do everything THIS week.

New ideas, projects and interests are the drug of choice for the multipod. We crave every new learning opportunity and are always on the search for more, more, more to feed that addiction.

You may well recognise yourself in Bob and his overriding urge to dive straight in to all of those interests. He had bottled it up for so long, denying himself the permission to follow his interests for years. It can be tempting to try and start everything at once, trying to cram it all into the space of a couple of weeks. But as the old saying goes, “that way lies madness.”

So what can you do to avoid the same pitfalls as Bob? Here’s what I’ve learned on my journey so far.

My top 3 tips for going the distance

1) Practice self-care, and treat it like you’re running a marathon

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember that you’re a multipod for life – not just this week! So you don’t have to start everything right now, however tempting it may be.

It might be OK to run at full pelt with a range of projects for a few weeks, but doing it long term is a whole different ballgame. Few of us are superhuman. Accept that your energy, and enthusiasm for different projects, will ebb and flow.

Practice saying ‘no’ when you begin to feel over-committed, however exciting it is to get started on something new.

And finally, try to take regular breaks. There are no prizes for getting completely overwhelmed and burned-out.

2) Celebrate your achievements (however small)

Forward progress is forward progress, no matter how small it might be. When you have a handful of projects on the go at the same time, it can feel like you’ve been putting in loads of time without seeing any results.

It’s also normal for us multipods to abandon projects once we get bored with them. Often it’s the learning experience we were after anyway, finishing was never our goal. But not finishing can make you feel as though you haven’t achieved anything.

What is Finishing, Anyway? Finishing is the traditional method by which we’ve all been taught to benchmark our progress. As multipotentialites, we need to reinvent how we view finishing. If you get the experience you wanted, why should it matter if your project isn’t finished? And who decides what ‘finished’ is anyway?

Being a multipotentialite is not just about getting to a destination (e.g. becoming an expert or specialist), it’s about the experience and knowledge you gain along the way, as well as the tangents it might take you off on.

 3) Build a multipod-friendly, support network around you

No (wo)man is an island. We all need help, support, reassurance and someone to talk with about the issues we’re facing. Being a multipod can by its very nature be overwhelming.

Talk to others about the ups and the downs of your journey. Help to blow open the myths by sharing stories about your own experience (this is why I find resources such as the Puttytribe so important).

Your Turn

What’s your experience of trying to manage all of your projects without suffering total overwhelm? What strategies do you use to help you cope?

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.


  1. Paul says:

    Wow, this could not have come at a better time.

    I am basically Bob. I found this website a couple of weeks ago and got a bit over-excited. I took it as permission to do everything I’m interested in at the same time, aka right now. Mistake.

    Now I have just chosen a few things to work on and actually develop them to a reasonable level. Here goes!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Paul (or can I call you Bob?!!)

      I so know that feeling of over-excitement and the intense desire to dive straight into everything all at once! I’m not sure it ever goes away (and I wouldn’t want it to!) but I have found it needs to be managed if I’m to avoid becoming exhausted.

      It sounds like you’ve got a great plan in place. I too like to choose a few of the most interesting projects to have on the go at any one time. The rest I keep on a back-burner and swap them into the mix whenever I feel the time is right.

      Please keep us posted on how’s it going. :)

  2. Thank you–this is just what I needed to hear today! The past month or so I’ve been so inspired to pursue 10 different things at full force that sleep and *completing* smaller projects has taken the back burner. I love your blog, your message, and what you’re doing! :)

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Erin! I’m glad Bev’s piece spoke to you. Balancing inspiration projects/learning with smaller projects that give you a sense of completion more easily is crucial. It’s a balance I’m adjusting right now too.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Erin

      So pleased to hear it’s hit a chord with you. I think this is a really common experience for multipods, but we don’t always realise we’re doing it!

      I decided a few years ago to make sure I left a good amount of time each day for sleep. I find that if I’m working full force on projects, then I need to balance it by making sure my rest time is done full force too.

      Thanks for your awesome feedback. :)

      • Joshua Lundquist says:

        Yes I am totally realizing how important it is to get sleep instead of staying up entertaining inspiration projects!

        I was talking with Emilie the other day and she mentioned this–Multipotentialites especially need good sleep!

  3. Olga says:

    Great post, Bev! :-) As a multipod that manages to even get overwhelmed with Puttytribe every now and then, I cannot stress the importance of self-care enough and responsible energy distribution enough.

    Though maybe every Bob should make this fascinating experience at least once in his life… *evil laugh*

    • Bev Webb says:

      Thanks Olga! Self-care’s become so much more important as I’ve become older – I wonder if all multipods find that too? I think that if I want to keep on juggling multiple projects into my 50’s, 60’s, and beyond, I need to carefully manage my energy and well-being. :)

      • Olga says:

        Here is to juggling projects into our 90’s! I wonder what it will be, though, with the pace the world is changing!

      • Hi Bev,
        I am 52 and still going strong…I don’t sleep much but have power naps! I also make sure I have breaks like going away for a few days there and then but I get your point…maybe I should go to bed as I am writing this!!!

    • Olga says:

      Definitely one “enough” too much in there — shows what I know…

  4. Josh Taylor says:

    And so I watch with tears as yet another interest dies out…

    Strategies that seem to help me are short work-out routines, jogging, etc. Apply 80/20. If I have five blogs and one promotes a real income generating stream, then keep that one going.

    Then there’s Twitter. For me I’ve gotten some networking from Twitter, but mostly it’s been a timewaster, so I don’t check it near as much.

    Great article. Thanks.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Josh! Many thanks for sharing an insight into your strategies. I think there’s certainly a knack to getting the balance right in managing our multipod tendencies.

      We can’t be everywhere and do everything, so it does come down to needing to prioritize what’s important to us. And like you say, if something isn’t working for you, then it’s time to let it go. :)

  5. Helen says:

    There are times when even eating goes on the back burner for the shiny new project. The hunger pangs start and get ignored. Just got to read this, do that and then I’ll conjure up that delicious and healthy meal. Until the point when it starts to feel like a guilty addiction and I tear myself away, head to the kitchen and have a total carb frenzy – bread, crisps, cheese, chocolate – and more guilt. Oh dear! Yep self-care is important… Thanks for reminding us we’re in it for the long haul – great post!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hehe! I know that feeling so well Helen. I frequently get into a total flow state on a project and it’s not until that slight woozy feeling comes over me, that I realise I’ve forgotten to eat. :)

  6. Josh says:

    Nice article, Bev! I was Bob about a year ago when I landed on Puttylike. I was also just encountering a bunch of other sites that in one way or another were urging me to quit my job.

    Entertaining all these tempting interests did help me learn a bunch of stuff I needed to to make a site of my own then, of course, but it also made for serious overwhelm situations when paired with that thought of “I’m wasting my life if I don’t quit my job!”

    Luckily, I tossed aside the “must quit job” mantra that was clinging to me and held on to the multipotentialite part of my identity, since it was genuinely what I needed.

    You’re right, it is a marathon!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Thanks Josh! I really think there’s a little bit of ‘Bob’ in all of us multipotentialites.

      So many of us seem to regularly experience overwhelm in one form or another. I think it’s actually a necessary part of the process, like a kind of early warning system that we need to slow down a bit.

      It’s excellent to hear you succeeded in finding a way to filter out all the ‘background noise’ and took ownership over the parts you really want. :)

  7. Janet Brent says:

    Dang, I think you pegged me pretty well in “Bob” (and other multipotentialites)! I’m always starting projects and not finishing… You see this in how I read multiple books at once but never finish.. Or how I let ‘personal projects’ sit and gather dust. And YES I subscribe to a ton of newsletters.. They tell you all about inbox zero but I have never seen it!! :P

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Janet! Inbox zero? I’ve never seen it either. I’m happy if I reach ‘Inbox will wait until tomorrow’! Do you think it’s our constant desire for knowledge that feeds the urge to sign up for so many newsletters?

      As for finishing, I do think we (as multipotentialites) should look at finding a way to reclaim and rebrand what constitutes ‘finished’!! :)

      • I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but I think you’re right about our constant desire for more knowledge and understanding that lends to signing up for newsletters and classes, to relentlessly pursue articles and new ideas online, and to talk to people in hopes of learning more about different topics. It’s all-consuming!

  8. JC says:

    I’m fortunate to have a couple people in my life to keep me from making that mistake (anymore or too often). Two kids and a wife! So every step I take, and every little dream I dream up takes into account that first I am a husband and father, and THEN I am a multipod. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough. On the flip side, being a multipod Dad and Hubby helps a lot, because I can experience the world with the same enthusiasm as my children, enjoy Legos, etc…and be handy around the house for my wife. I will shut up now.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi JC

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective as a multipotentialite and a parent. You’re so right to raise the point that at different times in our lives, our priorities shift and change, and we find different ways to express our pluralist nature.

      I think multipods parents are uniquely placed to inspire their kids with a passion for learning and trying lots of new things. Plus, you get to play with Lego, which is definitely a win-win in my book! :)

  9. Kim Thirion says:

    I can definitely relate! I tend to find myself flying around in a million difference places at once, and while it’s exhilarating and fun, it’s also quite exhausting. To stay out of overwhelm zone, I have to limit myself to two things at a time; that way I can still have variety AND have enough time to see actual results.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Kim

      Yep, totally with you on trying to hit that balance point between exhilaration and exhaustion! I like the way that although you’re limiting projects, you’ve making sure there’s a combination of variety and results. :)

  10. Lori Stalter says:

    Oh, how many times I’ve hit burn out and overwhelm. I think you nailed what ails me pretty well, Bev!

    Self care…gotta remember the self care part…

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Lori! Yep, overwhelm has a habit of catching up with us all, and often on a regular basis. Perhaps we should create a multipotentialite self-care mantra! :)

  11. Em says:

    What a timing indeed! :D

    I just began to write an e-book few weeks ago and got a bit lost in the amount of text so left it for a while, to let it settle down in my head.

    Then after a while, I got an amaizing idea for another e-book so I started to write that one :D I was like – oh my, why can’t I ever finish anything! But the thing is, when I get the spark, I need to do it immediately, while it’s all in my head, ’cause from experience I know, if I don’t, I’ll lose it in few days. I feel like if I don’t write it down now, it’s never gonna happen. I just don’t know how to save that spark for later, really.

    Besides, I should never have told anyone that I’m working on it. They keep on asking about it now and that makes me stressed and feeling under pressure.

    But yeah, it’s good to stop and relax. To realise you got time and you don’t need to learn how to sky-dive like tomorrow.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Em

      Ooooh yeah, that amazing buzz of energy when you get ‘the spark’! I know what you mean about not wanting to lose the momentum and needing to do something about it right now. It’s like those ideas that appear in the middle of the night that I’m always scared will have disappeared by morning.

      I like to capture as much detail as I can whilst it’s still buzzing. I find that I can then chill out a bit once I know the whole idea is safely stored and I can return to it again whenever I want.

      If you’re feeling good and you’re happy to beaver away on your book, then go for it! It’s when/if it all starts to feel too much and like you’re slogging through treacle, that it may be time to step back and give yourself a break.

      And if you find it’s stressing you out when people ask about your progress, you could try coming up in advance with a standard answer to use. I often say something like “It’s currently in an editing/ design/protoyping stage.” Hope that helps! :)

  12. Annie says:

    Wow, you just described my life right now! I recently discovered pl, and I stuffed everything in my life. My fear is that if I stop, say, writing fiction or dancing, I will forget about them and lose interest without even having indulged in them much. In other words, I will put them to the way side because of time/money, and the slowly will forget about my burning dream of writing a novel and lose passion and nterest in dance. I will never pick them back of the way side and I will never learn wha I wanted to learn (I will never “finish” them). Looking at all my past passions I didn’t have time for I feel really sad. What should I do?

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Annie and welcome to the PL community!

      When you discover that you’re a multipotentialite, and that it’s OK to have multiple passions, it can be such a huge relief. It’s an important discovery that helps make sense of who we are and why we do things the way we do, like not finishing stuff. We’re ‘normal’ after all!

      It’s such an important and liberating discovery, that it’s natural to be afraid of having it all taken away again. Fear can be like a big mean bully! If you’ve worried about what you ‘think’ will happen when you stop doing something for a while, try a little experiment to see what ‘actually’ happens. Often the fear doesn’t turn out to be true and you get to call it’s bluff and remove it’s power over you.

      You can also create some reassurance for yourself by blocking out time in your schedule to work on your projects. That way you know they WILL definitely happen! :)

      • Annie says:

        I’ll try that. I have to in a way, since it isn’t possible to focus on writing two novels, choreographing a dance, excersizing for dance, writing weekly updates on an astronomy blog, learning to touch type, learning spanish, making an art journal and working everyday at my summer job.
        I didn’t think of it being about me being afraid that someone was going take my multipotentialite freedom all away before, but you are so right. I am afraid of that and I should defeat that fear!
        I guess that if my passion for making an art journal doesn’t last for long, it can’t be that bigger of regret when it don’t pursue that particular passion.

  13. Kellie says:

    WOW! YAY! Someone knows what it’s like to be me!!!

    I have a crazy skill set, from teaching geology to massage and healing work to dance & choreography to web & graphic design to video & copywriting…on one hard, I feel like it makes me totally awesome, and on the other hand, a complete failure! So tough on the self-concept.

    Every time someone asks me what I do, I give them a few things and say, “I just keep trusting it’s all going to come together at some point.”

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Kellie!

      Doing all of those things does make you totally awesome! The problem we often come up against is that the traditional benchmarks of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ were never designed for multipotentialites. Those old systems can make us feel like we’ve failed even when we haven’t – far better to create your own definition of success.

      I too have difficulty telling people what I do in a concise and easily understood way! I’m trying to combat this by finding a few different definitions I can use depending on the context and who I’m talking to. Maybe that would work for you too? :)

  14. sara says:

    Thanks, for the great article, Bev, and as the comments show, so timely..
    Seems like you definitely hit on the pulse of a challenge we share and need help in facing and being constructive with handling… Since my plan is to have a business, there is an urgency to find solutions, and those solutions are not off the shelf at this point, at least for me for as a multipod.

    Time management, planning, scheduling, learning about productivity…and there is so much out there, more overwhelm to learn about how to manage overwhelm. Sometimes I’m just needing to check in and see what my own inner wisdom says…maybe just some deep breathing and I will find the answer, instead of more newsletters or How to’s…

    My top projects need to get done. Right now that is not happening too well and it’s making me feel upset, but I’m resisting planning, so that might be fear, and so I need to address that or avoidance techniques.. So there we go…

    The inbox is full of wonderful offerings…people on their toes to speak from the heart and be helpful to fledgling entrepreneurs, who want to learn everything. These are teachers, maybe future collaborators and partners, and they are awesome, but I need to focus on my training homework or I will never get a website up.

    Self care is Soo important! As much as sleep I really have to do an exercise that gets me moving vigorously to get out of my head and noticing my feet under me, preferably fun, rhythmic, and balanced with stretching and weights. I’ve found a “boot camp” at the Y once a week…now I need more, but I’m working on that. Even there, I need to “make a deal” with my mind to let me take a little vacation from its busyness, and let my body’s wisdom and joy have some play time.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Sara! Yep, self-care is right up there as one of the most important considerations. It’s like the basis or foundation upon which all other activity can succeed.

      I love what you say about exercise helping to prevent you from just being in your own head. Like you, when my head feels overly full I go for a walk: looking up at the sky, listening to the birds and just taking a breather from all that mind busyness.

      I know it can be tough to figure out whether it’s fear, procrastination or resistance that’s holding you back, but keep on chipping away at it. It sounds like you’re already taking positive steps to deal with distractions and prioritize time and space for your own projects. I totally believe you WILL get there. :)

  15. Margaux says:

    Yup, this happens to me every May. Suddenly, every door opens and there’s an opportunity behind each one. So I try to walk through all of them at the same time.

    It’s now July and there’s no sign of stopping. Yes, it’s not very productive, to be juggling so many things at the same time instead of focusing energy on one thing at a time. But I just can’t help it. I’ve got Scanner ADD. I’ve not only said yes to every opportunity, I’ve been following up on ones that seemed promising, as well as initiated new projects. I don’t even want to count how many different things I’m working on now because it’s embarrassing, even as a multipotentialite.

    Here’s where personality type and conative type comes into play, though: this is exactly what I need to stay interested in anything and feel like things are moving forward. If I only did one thing at a time, there are lull periods between available actions during which it would feel as though the project wasn’t moving forward, as though I was stuck waiting for someone else to respond. By juggling a lot of things, there are always things on the backburner while something else is coming to a boil. So there is a constant stream of wins every day. This sort of pace is what I thrive on.

    Mind you, it means my house is in a constant tornado state.

    This is seasonal, too. By November, I’m slowing right down with no more than 3 projects on the go, sometimes zero. The wheels don’t start turning again until end of Feb, beginning of March, so I just go with it.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Margaux! Many thanks for your feedback. I too thrive on juggling many different projects at the same time and share your love of the fast pace. What I do advocate though, is keeping half an eye on how we’re feeling whilst we’re doing it.

      There is no right or wrong number of projects to have at a time and one is certainly never enough for a multipotentialite! No matter how many you have, if you’re excited, buzzing and clearly thriving, then keep on going.

      However, if the projects begin to cause overwhelm, progress stalls or a sense of fear rather than excitement sets in, then it’s time for a break. It’s all about tuning in to the ebb and flow of your own energy and it sounds like you have a great system that speeds up early in the year and then slows down towards the end. :)

      • Margaux says:

        Hi Bev!

        Not knowing how to take a break is not a problem I have! I’m really much harder to push into action than into rest. My natural state is at rest! When I was a child, my father called me a square soccer ball because I would immediately stop moving after a short spurt; I required constant kicking to get anywhere close to the goal post. Nothing has changed since then.

        But your advice is not for nothing. The biggest thing I have to remember is to exercise and stretch regularly because with age comes repetitive use injury! Photography is ruining my right shoulder and now my right elbow. Definitely needs some self-care there.


  16. ruth says:

    Dear Emilie, thanks for this great post. It’s always so funny; I ‘m laughing out loud! Not having to do all in one week is the best and only advise a multipotentialite needs:-)!

  17. This is like totally me. I have had to learn how to prioritize and do the things that give me the maximum impact or fulfillment as I learned from Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Start-Up. Plus I also had to come to the realization that if I don’t meet a deadline or mile stone, I can push the milestone back to however much I need to. I am working on my own terms. lol! Great post!

  18. Bev Webb says:

    Hi Ricardo! You’re so right, self-set deadlines and milestones are there to help, not hinder our progress. They’re tools to support our work and if they’re not a good fit for their intended purpose, then we absolutely have the ability to adjust them. A great reminder – many thanks! :)

  19. Jenean Z says:

    I love the idea of redefining finishing. I wrote a blog post on the idea that I lived for so long feeling like a failure because I was a non-finisher!
    I have recently discovered the site and for the first time…I don’t feel ‘broken’.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Yey! Fantastic to hear that you no longer feel ‘broken’. It’s very liberating to find out your a multipotentialite – rather than feel like a failure, you’ll be able to turn things around and have it as an advantage! :)

  20. Carola says:

    I’m glad I found your blog! Right now I’m studying four languages. One has priority since I have to take an international exam at the end of the year. I’m quite good with the second one, but I feel I should pay more attention to it.
    A part of me knows that I should focus on those two, but another part of me screams “but you want to learn the other languages as well! How could you live if you don’t understand them!”
    I love learning, it’s something I enjoy, and I have such a hard time trying to accept that I can’t possibly do everything right now!
    Not to mention that I have many many activities I have to/want to pursue right now!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Carola! If you’re feeling confined by just have two languages (projects) on the go, it may be worth scheduling some time to play with other projects too. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, just enough so that you can satisfy those cravings and feel like you haven’t totally abandoned those other interests.

      You can also combine main projects with any number of back-burner projects, just switch them around to create the mix of experiences you need. :)

  21. tommy says:

    Hi Bev, your latest post is 100% on the mark. I take on projects contracts and hobbies on top of my work, especially recently as my work is about to finish and I’m justifying taking on any possible work coming my way as ‘lining things up’. I’ve always worked a lot, don’t even really consider it work cos it’s all just my interests. I also know I cant sustain this output indefinitely. I’ve never burnt so hard for so long before – really – and that’s saying a lot. Just one more week to go though of living on 2-3hrs sleep several nights a week just to get through. It’s been about 5weeks at least now. I’ll need to hibernate for a few weeks after this! That my wife is concerned is an understatement. And all the while sending out appology emails and just about scraping through and winging it.. it’s not good really is it.. But part of me keeps pushing -you gotta do it, the hard work will pay off, nothing comes from nothing, perseverance pays, say yes now apologise later etc. But some of my work is quite public, presentations, audiences etc, can’t hide from that. Similar to the first comment poster, I came across puttylike quite recently and somewhat embracing myself more as a result. I’m conscious though that I’m walking a bit of a knifeedge too. If my body copes these current obligations I’m aiming for a new chapter, a fresh start. I’m also about to depart the ‘normal’ life and follow the ‘modern'(?) way of being, and I can’t wait. I’m very interested in how much I identify with so much of this multipotentialite writing. It runs far deeper than just being for people interested in arts or hobbyests or creatives.
    Anyway, top post. I best get on with an allnighter I need to do ahead of a 16hr day and my eyes are already sore.. keep up the good work!

  22. Emily says:

    Fantastic post. Not only I might be a Bob myself but I have now a super master/mentor which is my body. I do so many things at the same time that, for the first year in my life, I was sick three times in a row (I am currently nearly stopped with an awful knee pain while I am away from home doing a psychotherapy training). I MUST listen to those signs. I will just go to the end of my commitments and I will make a pause. Promess. Emily from France.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Hahaha Oh my gosh! So glad I read this. Thank You!!! I discovered this site three hours ago…twenty minutes ago I found myself trying to apply and register for an accounting class at the local college so I can begin working toward a certification.. Thank goodness the internet was down becuse the class begins in three weeks and I probably would’ve been stressed out about childcare for my little ones. I’ll begin school in Spring..unless something else bubbles up and over :-)

  24. Danbo says:

    Im so relieved to have found this site and at least given my ‘immaturity’ a name. I found this site while searching for ‘Im nearly forty and dont have a clue what to do with my life’ following another ‘im bored with my job and want to try something else (again)’ moment.

    Current projects (they all have the same priority ala Bob – now)

    – Learning 3 new technologies we have introduced at work (way, way more than I need to know – as in I have 3 books on the go)
    – Learning to play the harmonica
    – Running an allotment
    – Making jams and chutneys
    – About to become a black belt in Karate
    – Father and husband
    – Studying a horticulture qualification
    – Tennis
    – ‘Thinking’ about starting a sideline business

    Im always concerned because there is so much I want to do and each ‘project’ becomes a minor obsession, to the point where it feels like a waste of time when the next thing comes along and the current one gets dropped. After writing this I dont feel as guilty that some things dont get finished and can see for the first time in a long time at what a diverse set of skills I have built up/continue to build.

    I especially like the ‘what things do I want to experience before I die’ line. I think I’ll have to learn a craft so I can make it into a sign to hang on my wall :-)

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Danbo
      Fab comment! Welcome to the world of the multipotentialite – it’s great to finally put a name to it, huh?!!! Just knowing that it’s “normal” to flit from project to project (and leave a trail of unfinished stuff behind you) is a huge sense of relief. Great to have you on board for the ride! :)

  25. Nick says:

    Love this post. I can relate to this on so many levels and that’s actually what I’ve been experiencing right now. I love travel. I decided on a whim to book a one way ticket to London from South Africa ( after being home for two months). Whilst I was home I traveled, started studying Spanish, was visiting friends. In addition I decided I should start a blog about my travels, dived in, whacked away at it for a month- the blog is in Limbo now. Then I stumbled upon Jonathan Mead and How to get Paid to exist, followed by Puttylike. I then knew what I needed to do and that was to put everything together and bundle it up as an online a Business. So now I’m in London, working on it slowly, realizing that these things take time. I of course am in a New Country, whilst looking for a job, whilst working on this business. I also just bought a camera because I want to do Photography. OVERWHELM!

    The above can cause huge overwhelm and has caused me anxiety restlessness and agitation, there’s a huge amount of energy build up as a result. I find that going for a run releases all that Energy and helps me think clearer. I know in my head that I just need to do a little bit at a time and break it down- actionable steps. It’s easier said than done though, but I’m getting there slowly but surely. I think just stepping back from it all to realise what you are doing is a big undertaking, is really important. This allows you to not be so hard on yourself.

    Thanks again, a post that seriously resonates with me and a lot of people.

  26. Late to the conversation, I know. Great post, Bev. It’s funny how many posts I’m reading on Puttylike remind me of – and put a different spin on – posts I’ve written myself. Such as http://wp.me/pSq36-lv. (Sorry, shameless self-promotion.)

    Here’s something that has helped me avoid being overwhelmed: set a timer. Take any project – preferably one that has no deadline except the insanely aggressive one you set for yourself. (Not that multipods ever do this!) Mine lately is a cartoon blog. Set a timer when you start working – phones work great for this. I usually set it for 20 – 40 minutes, depending on my day and level of interest. When the timer goes off, STOP WORKING! I move on to other things on my to-do list.

    I timer helps in a few ways. (1) I know I need to be productive while the timer is on, so I’m more focused. (2) If I’m frustrated with the project, I find some aspect I can push forward just for the allotted time. (3) I don’t feel like I have to wait to budget half a day to make any progress. And (4) if I’ve got multiple projects going, I can work on three of them in an hour and a half. Which makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere.

    Thanks again, very helpful thoughts.

  27. Brie Robb says:

    I just found this site and the info so I am a bit behind the game so to speak. I think it is great beyond words to know so many people (multipotentialites) are able to get support instead of being shunned as I was growing up. I felt like I was ‘not good enough’ for anyone or anything… I know better now. But the hurts are still part of my life. I am addicted to learning and understanding. I am really good at many things. (and I am hoping to find friends who value that, because I like it so much in other people too)

  28. Tina says:

    So I know this post was published a while ago, but I am so happy to have found it. At twenty, I’ve been a freelance writer, jewellery designer, and camera operator. And I’m working on other stuff to come.

    I love that you talked about the getting bored and not finishing, because I have done that with so many projects. Self-care is so important. I keep a notebook now and files on the desktop that are dedicated to ideas. I find the best way to finish something is to take your time with it. I’ve rushed into a lot of things but I’m working on my portfolio as an illustrator and taking it slowly has been the best thing in the world.

    Anyway. I just wanted to say how much I love this post. xoxo

  29. Janine says:

    Hi there
    I only just found out I am a Multipotentialite a couple of days ago. Wow I feel amazing among about a hundred other things I’m feeling. That explains everything.
    I have a question for anyone reading this – Is there any Multipotentialites in NZ as obviously that is where I am?

  30. Jana says:

    I found my tribe!!

    At last!

    While I knew that I was no Specialist for a VERY long time, I did not know of a tribe like this. Thinking back on a time when I did not have the vocabulary of a Multipotentialite, I remember saying to my hubby that it looks like our goal is to give proper career advise to children as I might end up doing many different careers and what I don’t get to, he will cover. (In our marriage of 20 years, Hubby is on his 7th career while I am studying – even though I am bored stiff with this already – after 10 totally different job functions)

    Thanks for the line: “What is Finishing, Anyway?” THAT alone takes guilt of many “unfinished” projects away…

    I am very likely to devour the all the posts ;-)

  31. Craig says:

    I have to say that these three do resonate with me, but I think it was the following that really rang true for me:

    “Being a multipotentialite is not just about getting to a destination (e.g. becoming an expert or specialist), it’s about the experience and knowledge you gain along the way, as well as the tangents it might take you off on.”

    It’s interesting that with work peers and even friends I’ve been told frequently by people I’m assisting, “I don’t want all that extra stuff, just give me the answer…”. When the for me the answer is the LEAST useful part of the discussion; it’s the impartation of the knowledge gained while getting to the answer. Because all that extra is what allows me to think outside the box.

    I’ve always felt frustrated that people can’t see this, and it’s always seemed to me that people aren’t interested in the quality of knowledge, just an answer. *sigh*

    But this piece helped me reframe that position. It helps me reconcile it’s really their choice for less than a reflection of their opinion of me.

  32. Misty says:

    My biggest fear is being on my death bed and looking back and saying, I wish I would have done….. So when I get a new idea or interest, I have to do it right now. Even if it is several all at once, because I am constantly feeling like I am running out of time in my life and I do not want to look back and wish I had done something.

  33. Karen Joslin says:

    Bev, I hope you see this. I went to your website, and I couldn’t see any of the content – just the navigation bar and headers. So I couldn’t even send you a message from your site, because the contact info wasn’t there. This was true on both Safari and Chrome. I didn’t test it on other browsers.

    Anyway, great article. I’ve learned over the years that I need to prioritize ideas because there’s no way I can do them all at the same time. Maybe I’ll eventually get to the ones that aren’t as important now, and maybe I won’t. And that’s okay.

  34. LCJinRoslynPA says:

    Wow. Nobody has ever validated my drive for the learning experience itself!

    I have “one and 9/10 Master’s degrees” and when I left the 2nd program (not finishing what the OCP’d director referred to as a “12 Week Comprehensive Exam”) I had only two courses remaining, one of which everyone who’e ever taken it has said it was useless (and which I probably could have taught myself), and another 1 uniter that I knew would not add much to my experience. And I was at the point where to continue would’ve meant putting tuition on a credit card, something I just didn’t want to do. When I withdrew, the director said it was a tragedy; I told her no, it was a choice.

    I’d entered the program to get what I needed, not to get another piece of paper to hang on the wall, and I’d done that. I finished shared projects so I wouldn’t let other students down, but I didn’t stress myself with adding her mountainous assignments to my other priorities. Then I said “thank you” and left, feeling satisfied.

    MAYBE that second piece of paper would’ve opened doors for me. I knew it hadn’t opened some I thought it would. But the real deal was that I learned what I needed to learn. Thanks so much for validating this. I sure wish someone had given me the concept of multipotentialite personality about 5 decades ago!

  35. Paulina says:

    I am 24 years old and I actually burned myself out severely last year. I slept 30 hours straight and couldn’t get myself out of bed and didn’t care if I died because at least I wouldn’t have to be awake anymore. I begged my mom to take me to a hospital because I couldn’t handle it anymore. Not being able to do anything but sleep but wanted to do everything.
    All my teen years and early 20s I wanted to do everything and be the best at everything. Soccer, friends, family, grades, social stuff, beauty. I dove into a lot of projects and tried to do everything at once. And the pressing Question and my family and friends wanting me to pick one occupation and start studying. Having my own dreams of traveling, photos, drawing, videos, technology, makeup, reading, psychology and so much more. I don’t know how many times my loved ones have told me when I mastered one skill that I should do that for a living. But I already got bored of it.
    I am just now recovering and finding ways not to burn myself out again.

  36. Irina says:

    I am so glad I came upon Emilie’s TED talk and subsequently this website, it’s been a godsend! How many times have I tried to turn a new passion into a career, or at least a source of income, only to get bored and feel like a failure again and again. How many times have I given myself so many projects once that I’d refuse to do any, unable to commit to them all fully. For many years my solution has been to give myself a certain amount of time for each new “hobby” and then move on, but the list grew and the time frame felt more like a deadline and needless to say that didn’t work so well. This article has opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve got all the time in the world to commit to all my ideas and develop them for as long as I see fit and that it’s OK to take breaks, if needed. I couldn’t feel more empowered, can’t wait to read it all…or most of it, anyway, no pressure.

  37. Celeste says:

    OMG!!!! I AM BOB!!!

    Hi,I’m Celeste from Argentina, I am learning English and another lot of things. I love the idea of reinvent the way we view finishing. Thanks for sharing your experience,it is encouraging.

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