Recently, I discovered a few termites around my house. And then a few more, and then even more before I finally realized: uh oh. I have termites.
For weeks, I tried to ignore the problem. I guess I figured, if I pretend they’re not here, the problem will somehow work itself out. Of course, that’s not how termites work, and when it rained particularly hard one week, they swarmed my yard. Finally, I called an exterminator and handled the problem like an adult.
“You can’t just ignore termites,” he warned. “They’ll destroy your home.”
You’re probably thinking, No kidding! Everyone knows that. Don’t you realize ignoring a problem only makes it worse? It’s so obvious. Yet it’s a habit so many of us develop with money. We hate dealing with it, so we pretend it’s not there, hoping that somehow, the problem will work itself out. Of course, like termites or any other problem for that matter, ignoring your financial situation typically only makes it much, much worse.
Money and Multipotentiality
Money and multipotentiality can feel like conflicting subjects. Multipotentiality is about your interests, after all, and money is about paying the bills. As a multipod, you may even be torn on how to make money and still do things you enjoy.
Which is why my heart did a little dance when I discovered the four approaches to making money as a multipotentialite. These approaches outline exactly how people like me typically earn a living. You can have a single job that suits all your interests, you can spread those interests across a handful of jobs, you can have a “survival” job, or you can pursue a job that suits one interest at a time. None of these approaches are easy, but this is how we multipods usually approach our careers.
Dealing with money as a multipod can still be a challenge, though. And that’s simply because money is, well, challenging. Each multipotentialite work model comes with its own unique set of financial challenges, too. Here are some that I’ve faced with each approach.
The Einstein Approach
For years, I worked as a technical writer while I pursued other interests in my spare time: screenwriting, video editing, and journalism. I made a few bucks with each of those things, but my full-time job paid the bills and kept me afloat for the time being. It’s what we call “The Einstein Approach.”
When I took this approach, I faced an interesting financial challenge: I always prioritized money. I was reluctant to leave the job and pursue my true interests because I was so afraid of losing that income.
To remedy this, I surrounded myself with other journalists, screenwriters, and video editors, and this helped keep my interests front of mind. These were my people! I joined a writers group, made friends with videographers, and found a mentor in a freelance journalist. It was harder to neglect my interests for money when I had inspiration all around me. I also had to get clear on my goals. What did I want to do, eventually, with each of these interests? Why did I worship money so much? Did I want to stay in my Einstein job forever? These are deep questions with complicated answers, but my answers lead to a clear goal: I wanted to save enough money so that I could switch careers without worrying about making ends meet or moving back in with my parents. I started a “career switch fund” and planned my transition.
I left my Einstein job, that’s not the solution for everyone. Maybe you’re perfectly fine pursuing your interests while you have a standard 9-to-5 that pays the bills. You have to do what works for you, but that means getting clear on your goals and your values in life. Corny, but true.
The Group Hug Approach
One of my favorite approaches is the Group Hug approach. You get to explore all of your interests in a single job or gig. What’s not to love about that? Maybe you work for a small startup and you get to design brochures, take business trips to meet with clients, and write pitches. Writing, travel, and design: not a bad gig for a mutipod interested in those things! However, there is a potential money issue to watch out for. Not having a speciality can make it hard to negotiate or get a promotion.
People love to stereotype us multipods as “masters of none” (ugh) and that label makes it hard to move up the ladder. Your employer might see your gig as dispensable because you’re the “extra” person: you simply pick up the extra tasks that fall to the wayside. That’s how they see it, at least. It’s hard to get that promotion as Lead Designer, for example, if designing is just something you do because they haven’t yet hired anyone else for that task.
However, this can also work in your favor. To beat the “Master of None” label, position yourself as the flexible, versatile, quick-learning worker rather than a jack of all trades. Do this by quantifying the value of your responsibilities. For example, if you design a digital brochure to send to a mailing list, quantify the number of clicks or buys it gets. If you pitch potential clients, quantify the conversion rate. Once you have some impressive numbers, bring them to your employer and position yourself for a raise. Of course, this requires being skilled at these tasks, but since they’re things you’re interested in, you should be open to building your skill in these areas anyway.
Take a tip from Renaissance Business, which encourages us self-employed folks to pick an “overarching theme” for our business, or a motif that weaves together our many interests. For example, you could tie together your many tasks at work as “Operations Manager,” and then pitch this to your employer as a new job title. (With a new salary to match!)
The Phoenix Approach
With the Phoenix approach, you switch jobs every few years as your interests change. It’s a fun approach and you’ll never be bored, but it does come with some possible setbacks to your income. Namely, each time you switch careers, you start over. And when you start over, your salary typically starts over, too. The remedy for this? Transferable skills.
In other words, use the skills you learned in your previous job to help boost your resume in your new one. When I switched from being a technical writer at an oil and gas company to writing for media, I positioned myself as someone who could “break down even the most complicated topics.” After all, if I can write a 200+ page manual on how to put together a mile-long drilling tool, I can cover just about anything. What I lacked in experience with journalism I made up for with communication skills.
When you switch to the next thing, find some overlap in the skill set required in the old job versus the new one. This way, you don’t have to take as big of a salary hit. It also helps to transition strategically. Let’s say you’re a web designer but you want to start a photography career. In your final few months as a web designer, as you begin to transition out of it, maybe you could pitch new clients a photography package to go along with your designs.
The bottom line is, rather than forget about your old job completely, leverage what you can from it to succeed in your new one so you don’t have to start your salary from the bottom.
The Slash Approach
With the Slash approach, you have a few gigs, jobs, or businesses that you juggle. Maybe you teach yoga part-time and build websites part-time, too.
With the Slash approach, you get your income from multiple revenue streams, which is a great way to diversify your income. (Lose your yoga gig? Hey, you still have your web gig!) However, with this approach, you might find that your income is irregular. Part-time work often isn’t guaranteed, and you might take on more work one week and less the next. Plus, this kind of work is typically freelance, which often means variable income.
With a little planning, though, you can manage. For example, I “pay” myself a salary based on my average income from each of my jobs. It’s sort of like getting a regular paycheck from an employer, but the employer is me. With a paycheck, I know what to expect every month, even if my income varies. So if I earn more than average one month, I save that extra money, in case I earn below average the next month.
I also have what I call a “consistency client.” This is a client that provides a consistent work schedule month after month. They aren’t the best paying client, but knowing that I have a “guaranteed” amount of income each month helps keep my budget intact. Come to think of it, it’s sort of a combination of the Slash approach and the Einstein approach.
We’ve all got to make ends meet, and that includes us multipods. And any of these approaches are a great way to pay the bills. Of course, with any career, there’s always the possibility of a financial setback. But if you know what to expect, you can minimize that setback. It’s the exact opposite of ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. Instead, you’re preparing for it and setting yourself up for success as a multipod.
What is your biggest money issue as a multipotentialite? What have you done to overcome money obstacles in the past?