Like most multipotentialites, I was a multipotentialite long before I had ever even heard the term.
When I finally heard about it for the first time and I started to read about the multipotentialite mindset I thought “Exactly! That describes me exactly!” It was kind of like one of those moments when you’re reading a great book and the author describes a thought or emotion that you’ve had for a long time but have never heard put into words. It was very exciting.
My new rebuttal
The most valuable thing that I learned was a rebuttal to the question “what do you want to do with your life?” or at least “what job do you want?” Looking back I see that without even realizing it I had been banging my head for years against the invisible barriers that these flawed questions create.
These questions imply that we have to pick one path in life and unfortunately they are extremely pervasive, subconsciously guiding our lives and choices.
We multipotentalites realize though that this is a fallacy and that we can pursue our many talents and passions at the same time. This is what makes our lives unique, exciting, and meaningful.
Today I want to talk about a different problem facing multipotentialites. It is another unseen obstacle, another pervasive and subconscious roadblock that holds many of us back. It isn’t as widely known but it is even more dangerous. And let me warn you upfront: when I tell you about this multipotentialite pitfall you’re probably going to have a pretty strong reaction. The idealist in you is going to want to pull away and hit the back button. Just hear me out though. The danger that I’m referring to is the idea that we were all born with a purpose.
Is “destiny” a romantic notion or a dangerous one?
Like many other romantic notions common in our society, we all love the idea of destiny. We love thinking that we were put on Earth for a specific purpose. We admire people who can say “Since I was 6 I’ve known that I wanted to be a doctor.” The only problem is that the other 95% of us have no clue what we were put here to do!
So what does that mean? Are the rest of us doomed to live ordinary, mediocre lives until somehow our purpose is magically revealed to us? Do we merely hope to find meaning and fulfillment as we stumble through life? Of course not!
Unfortunately many of us spend too long- like I did in my college years- looking at our peers and saying “once I know what my purpose is, my burning passion, I’ll do great things. I hope that time comes soon though!”
We pick our purpose
The truth is that we pick our purpose. There gets to be a point in life where we just have to stick our flag in the ground and say “This is what I believe in. This is what matters to me and this is what my life is going to be about.”
Most of us probably can’t say that we’ve known since we were kids what it is we were meant to do, but all of us have interests, passions, convictions, and skills that we could easily say “this is going to be more than just a hobby for me. This is going to be my purpose.” Just take your favorite activity and decide that it’s going to be your purpose!
Why this is good news
There are three particularly beautiful things about this:
First of all, just picking anything puts you ahead of 90% of the people in the world. Like they say, “the world moves over for people who know where they’re going.” Having a purpose and being on a mission is like being in the carpool lane.
Secondly, once you have something- anything- to stake your flag in it will become a fiery passion over time. You could pick something totally random like stamp collecting or wittling and if you decide that it is now your purpose it will transform from a mild interest into a life mission.
And last, looking at your life in terms of purpose instead of a job takes the emphasis off of the specific skills that you have and puts it on the mission behind your work. This allows multipotentialites to explore different formats, learn new skills, and do different projects all while still pursuing their core mission. It’s liberating and empowering and your life becomes more about what drives you as a person as opposed to what you “do.”
So how do multipotentialites pick their purpose?
As I said, there is a ton of baggage attached to the question “what do you want to do with your life.” There are so many hidden expectations, assumptions, and subtext that limits and steers how we respond. Instead we should start asking ourselves and each other “what value am I going to add to the world?” It seems like a simple change in vocabulary but you’ll find that the impact is outstanding.
How will I add value?
Placing the focus on adding value will make you see the world in a new way. Rather than worrying about what other people expect of you, you will start to think more about what is important to you, what skills you have, where you derive enjoyment, and what your legacy will be. Simply asking this one question will spawn a hundred more that will start opening doors for you and will release your limitless potential.
Most importantly, asking yourself how you will add value to the world will allow you to integrate your multipotentiality. No one has the unique combination of experiences, interests, abilities, and motivations that you do so no one can add value in the same way that you can. Therefore no one else on Earth can have the same purpose as you.
I’ll use myself as an example. I’ve decided that my purpose is going to be helping people connect across borders. I love traveling and after spending time in Europe, SE Asia, West Africa, and Central America I’ve learned that we are interestingly different yet fundamentally the same. We all have cultures that are unique and sometimes extremely different, but at the end of the day we want the same things out of life.
Unfortunately this simple lesson is absent from our world, so my purpose is to help people overcome this. I have several skills and characteristics that make me uniquely qualified for the job. Once I decided to make this my mission I became so excited about my life. I encourage all multipotentialites to do the same.
So now it’s your turn. What is your purpose?
Garin Etcheberry is a traveler, adventurer, and the cohost of beginningentrepreneur.com, a weekly podcast where he and his cofounder document their journey of starting businesses. He is driven to achieve freedom and purpose and encourages others to do the same.