Welcome to Dear Puttylike, where our team of writers tackles your burning multipotentialite questions! Submissions are edited for length and clarity.
Hi Puttylike! Help!
I feel like I have no hobbies or dreams! This may be the opposite of many multipotentialites.
I put all of my eggs in one basket, dropped out of college and became a flight attendant because I thought that was my dream. I did it for a while and realized that it… wasn’t for me. The problem is, I had no “Dream B”. So, I feel lost… When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I don’t know what to tell them.
I don’t really have hobbies or big talents, and I don’t have a dream job anymore. It’s really cool that I fulfilled that dream, but what happens after you fulfill your dream?
What do I do now?!
I can absolutely understand why your experience has left you feeling like you need help figuring out what to do next! What you experienced has some similarities to what I went through when I realized that finding a dream job (or even a collection of dream jobs) did not end up being a dream come true for me.
It might feel like a grieving process to come to terms with a dream not providing the fulfillment that you always imagined – or at least hoped – it would. Realizing that dreams can shift and change without our consent can tempt us to react with fear and constriction about the future. After being burned (out) by our dream job, we might think that the way to live from that point on is to keep our dreams small—to avoid being disappointed again. But, as author Marcus Buckingham says in this podcast, “You don’t have to be afraid of life.” Instead, when it comes to finding what we love to do for work, Buckingham says that, “there is love to be found everywhere.”
What you and I might have in common is a tendency to be single-minded in the pursuit of what we believe is a worthy goal, especially when it comes to a career. But what you and I also have in common is identifying as multipotentialites.
When we give ourselves the freedom to bring a multipotentialite lens to the way we design our lives, we can diversify our thinking about what happens next. We can shake off some of that societal pressure to focus on one job as the source of all the things that bring us love, joy, happiness, and fulfillment. Then, the question changes from: “What happens after I fulfill my dream?” to “What happens after I fulfill just one of my many dreams?”
So, let’s do some dreaming together
First, you say that you “feel like” you have no hobbies or dreams. Since you wrote to Dear Puttylike, I assume that you still consider yourself to be a multipotentialite in some way. I would love to know more about this. But since we can’t sit down for coffee together, let me ask some questions that I encourage you to answer as you consider your next steps. Take out your journal, and see what comes up.
1. Which of my qualities make me (still) identify as a multipotentialite?
When you make that list, pay attention to whether those qualities relate to your interests or your skills.
Naming your multipotentialite interests
Can you remember a time, before you put all of your eggs in the flight attendant basket, when you allowed yourself to have multiple interests and creative pursuits? What were they, and what happened to them? Take some time to use all of your senses to recall what that was like.
You say that you “don’t really have hobbies or big talents.” I wonder where those went. Did you find yourself sacrificing your hobbies to focus on your career as a flight attendant? Now that you’ve moved on, this new time in your life has the potential to give you some of those other dreams back again.
Maybe you don’t have “big talents,” but what about small or medium-sized talents? What happens when you mindfully explore what you enjoy pursuing without the judgment of needing to be particularly good at them, or without the restriction of trying to figure out how you can monetize those interests?
Doodle or free-write about this before going to the next step.
Exploring your multipotentialite skills
In How To Be Everything, Emilie names five multipotentialite superpowers:
- Idea synthesis
- Rapid learning
- Big-picture thinking
- Relating and translating
Which ones ring true for you? Write down some examples where you’ve demonstrated any of these skills. Pay attention to what you were doing and why you felt energized when you leaned into your multipotentialite superpowers.
Now that you are starting to dream again about what you (used to) truly enjoy and what you’re (still!) good at, it’s time to make some notes about the next question:
2. How would I like to design my life as a multipotentialite?
Let’s use Emilie’s approach to compare a few different models of career design as a multipotentialite.
In How To Be Everything, Emilie writes that most happy multipotentialites use one of the following four work models: The Group Hug Approach, The Slash Approach, The Einstein Approach, and The Phoenix Approach.
It sounds like you chose The Group Hug Approach because at the time, being a flight attendant was a job that “allow[ed] you to wear many hats and shift between several domains at work.” (p. 57) Before I wrote for Puttylike, I probably would have made a choice like yours, Raine, and there is a possibility that your next career might also take a Group Hug Approach. However, since you are in a time of transition and exploration, there are at least three other approaches to consider this time around. Take a look at this article for an introduction to these approaches, and use the reflection questions in Emilie’s book to help you figure out what could work well for you.
Can you draw a picture of what your life could look like?
Perfection is the enemy of progress
It’s important to remember that, just for the moment, we are consciously choosing a different way to dream about our next steps. Therefore, this is not the time to get it perfectly clear or exactly right. Start your drawing—or your checklist—and see what comes up.
If you start to slip into single-minded thinking again, consider this: In this podcast, Marcus Buckingham says that research into the most engaged and resilient people at work found that only about 20% of our daily activities at work need to be things that we absolutely love or that put us into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”. Boy, is that great news! It means that you don’t have to limit yourself to jobs that are composed of all enjoyable tasks, or even ones that never challenge you. Instead, Buckingham proposes, “you can find work in which what you’re being paid to do every day has chunks of it that are expressions of the best of you.”
A multipotentialite life means multiple expressions of your best
So Raine, this is your chance to explore what the best of you looks like when it’s no longer tethered to just one dream job. My hope for you is that, in true multipotentialite fashion, you can expand your thinking to a big-picture view of what you want to do with your life. The beauty of being a multipotentialite is that we never have to answer that question once and for all. We can let our life unfold and never, ever again just choose one thing.
Have you ever had to come up with a Plan B? Have you ever been absolutely certain about something, only to realize that life had other plans? Share your experiences of having the courage to dream again after a setback with Raine and other members of the community in the comments!
Is there something that’s getting in the way of you living your best multipotentialite life? Got a puzzling productivity challenge or career quandary? Is there a particular family member who won’t accept your many facets? Or maybe you have a more general question about multipotentialites and how we move through the world? Send your “Dear Puttylike” questions to email@example.com