What Does a “Real” Multipotentialite Look Like?
Photo courtesy of Molly Germaine .

What Does a “Real” Multipotentialite Look Like?

Written by Neil Hughes

Topics: Confidence

I’m going to present two competing narratives about multipotentialites and reality. And then we’re going to figure out why they’re both wrong.

Narrative One: The “Real World” Won’t Let Us Be Ourselves. We’re Doomed! We Have To Get a Job Instead.

One of my favourite things about the multipotentialite community is seeing the fascinating projects everyone is working on: writing books, building eco-homes, internet marketing, knitting, songwriting, entrepreneurship, giving talks… It’s a constant stream of creativity and inspiration.

But many of these projects are risky. They don’t have guaranteed income. Maybe they have a high chance of failure. Or perhaps we can’t make money from them at all, and they’re just for fun or for learning new skills.

This is where Narrative One comes in. We’ve heard it a million times in a million different ways: “This is not realistic. Give up.”

Perhaps it would be nice to spend our time working on these interesting things, but it just isn’t possible. It’s time to resign ourselves to a life spent in the office, and to consign all these dreams to the bin. The real world isn’t multipotentialite friendly. Get a job.

Narrative Two: Getting a Job Means Selling My Soul. We’re Doomed! We Have to Not Get a Job.

On the other hand, it can sometimes feel like there’s an unspoken peer pressure for a “real” multipotentialite to avoid reality as much as possible.

If I imagine how I might feel if I quit self-employment, my brain objects quite strongly:

  • Getting a job means I’ve failed.
  • It means I’m not a “real” multipotentialite.
  • I’d have no time to pursue my other interests.
  • If I get a job, then I’m letting The Man win, and I’m participating in an awful inhumane system of employment, which basically makes me evil. (This one may be going a bit far.)

I don’t think these objections are based on anything I’ve heard anyone actually say.

If there’s a Multipotentialite Police Force out there checking for confirmed freelance status when anybody calls themselves a multipotentialite, I’ve never met them.*

* Ironically, this sounds like quite a fun job, so if the Multipotentialite Police are reading this, feel free to get in touch!

I suspect that this picture of a “real” multipotentialite has come from my brain seeing the most visible multipotentialites, noticing that they tend to be self-employed, mobile, alternative, and creative, and then crystallising a pattern around the idea that all multipotentialites must be this way to qualify.

And so I end up subconsciously believing that being self-employed – or doing certain kinds of work – is 100% necessary to being part of the club.

And I think that’s wrong. There’s no one way to be a multipotentialite. (In some ways, that’s kind of the whole point!)

These Narratives are Both Incomplete

Narrative One – that we should follow our dreams and leave behind the nine-to-five – is regularly used online. We’ve all read hundreds of advice posts explaining how to gradually move from full-time work in the “real world” to a freelance career.

So I’m going to spend the rest of this article challenging Narrative Two – the idea that it’s superior to work in a non-conventional manner.

Firstly, conventional work is sometimes the best decision for us and our families. Our first priority has to be making sure we’re looking after ourselves financially, and that may mean taking work with regular paychecks. Needing to eat is definitely not selling out.

Secondly, I suspect that many multipotentialites like having a job, and happily maintain their many interests both within and outside their work.

There’s no inherent incompatibility between working conventionally and pursuing multiple passions. (If that resonates with you, I’d particularly love to hear from you in the comments. I think such multipotentialites are currently underrepresented, at least in my circles.)

Thirdly, there are no rules. Really… There are no rules. We have the freedom to pursue our own path, should we want to. But that also means we have the freedom to choose to follow a well-trodden path built by someone else. Freedom means having both options!

And neither option is lesser in any way. We don’t need to be forcing ourselves into any mould – not even one that makes us like other multipotentialites.

We don’t need to run seventeen businesses by timed Pomodoro sprints in a converted co-working warehouse in order to be “real” multipotentialites.

Freedom to follow your own path means finding what works for you, and owning it and being happy. And if you’re not owning what you’re doing, and you’re not happy doing it, that’s where the rest of us come in.

The multipotentialite community is here to help you move from where you are now to where you’d like to be… whether that’s conventional, unconventional, realistic or unlikely:

neil_authorbioNeil Hughes is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a comical and useful guide to life with anxiety. Along with writing more books, he puts his time into standup comedy, computer programming, public speaking and other things from music to video games to languages. He struggles to answer the question “so, what do you do?” and is worried that the honest answer is probably “procrastinate.” He would like it if you found him at www.walkingoncustard.com and on Twitter as @enhughesiasm.


  1. Jeff Filo says:


    Great post. I’m one of the multipotentialites who’s happy working a full time corporate job while pursuing my interests as sidelines.

    When I retire from corporate life in about 10 years, that will flip and I’ll focus on my interests full time and do occasional freelance work in my field – software product management.

    As far as feeling pressure to follow one life design model or another, well I’m in the season of my life where that doesn’t even register :).


    • Neil Hughes says:

      This makes me happy, Jeff :) I think it’s crucial to hear from multipotentialites who are happily working in exactly this way. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. David says:

    I figured out that I was not like most people early in High School. That was okay, I’m good at looking like I mostly fit it. Fast forward most of a lifetime, having spent most of it doing the 9 to 5 thing, I have many regrets of “things” not done. But it’s hard to say how I would have done things differently. For, I have a loving family that I support in many ways that I could not without that 9 to 5 job. Most of the places I have worked do not permit the level of cross-over that would allow me to be truly valuable to the organization. I have often thought of going independent, but always find reasons why it’s not a good time or some other blocker (can you say procrastinator?). So, I take joy in the small things, continue to go off on my learning tangents, and keep looking for an employer that sees the value in all I have to offer. Having just read over this post, it sounds VERY melancholy. My point is this, there is a price for we multipots to do the 9 to 5 thing but it also enables us to do other important things in life and it does not mean the end of life. I am still a multipotentialite.

  3. Honorata says:

    I really value this point of view-why do we have to create another mould/pattern to fit??? Freedom of choice always been my priority and respectful aspect. I choose what fits me NOW in this current situation, family and financial arragements. Things may change with time as life changes and us as humans change as well..I work part time to have financial security for my family and follow my art/creative/spiritual passions as well. I personaly chose slow life, less money but more time to devote to personal pursuits. There is no white (only freelancing) or black way (selling your soul to employment) but personal choices based on our own decisions.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Precisely! We don’t want to create a new thing to conform to, just to help everyone to find the balance that works for them – that’s what being a multipotentialite is all about.

  4. Margaux says:

    Thanks for writing about this, Neil. I’m in the camp that refuses to make a living from a combination of my interests. I’m in the camp that realises I don’t have the personality and conation to make that work and still — you know — enjoy myself. I’m not particularly interested in asking the world to pay for my experimentation.

    I also think I have far more freedom to pursue any and every interest that passes by because I’m already getting well paid to only do a handful of things I love to do. The rest of the time, it’s all me and I don’t have to show or prove anything to anyone. For me, this is a better way for me to express my multipotentialism than to run my own business and have to spend at least the first 5 years worrying about every single aspect of making a profit and staying solvent and getting better at a thousand business skills I have no interest in wasting multipotentialite time improving!

    Just my ¢2.

    • Em says:

      I love your response, Margaux!

      (And a brilliant article, of course, too, thanks, Neil!)

      I sometimes feel like I’m not a proper multipod, because I’m not pursuing anything business related online, I live abroad, but I don’t make money from traveling and blogging/posting videos about it, I haven’t created any sellable coherent product/book/whatever yet (not even a giveaway one), I just have many hobbies and interests and usually to that I add some rather regular job to bring money to the account. I never thought I’d end up as a housekeeper/cleaner, for example, but for the last few years, that was mostly the thing (or related stuff) that I ended up doing, in order to travel. So I sometimes feel like I’m wasting my multipod potential, maybe I should be doing something more amaizing, but then again, I DO like cleaning and I’m good at it :) It’s a form of meditation for me, it helps me to clean my head and have time to think, or not think, just be present. Also housekeeping itself can be a challenging job, there are many tasks you have to be able to manage, situations you have to deal with, but still it’s easy to fall into that comparison trap and feel like I should be doing god knows what to be true multipod. This might be even stronger because cleaning jobs are probably seen as something low-leveled, for people who can’t do anything better.

      I usually don’t care what who thinks but there are moments when I get a bit upset seeing it in my resume and I hope the next time it will be something different, to show of how multi I am. Bloody ego, hey? :) Wish I could remove that from the equation completely.

      Anyway I’m glad to hear that there are other people not doing businesess online. I don’t feel like I have what it takes, either. We shouldn’t feel though as that is a bad thing.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Thanks Margaux, and also Em who wrote a great response to this comment.

      You two are exactly the people I wanted to reach with this post – to show there’s no such thing as a “proper” multipod, and that we can all choose our own way to explore our many passions… be it through our career, hobbies or some combination of the two.

      Thank you both for sharing :)

      • Sally says:

        I feel there is a bit of an over emphasis these days on monetising everything. I guess I am lucky in that I come from what I call the “slacker generation”. We just wanted to drop out and have a hedonistic lifestyle. I’ve never been overly bothered by status or moneymaking and just want to earn enough to get by. I had a fairly successful and fun career almost by accident (by being good at stuff like design and management) for about 10 years but periodically sabotage it to go off an do something else like teach or have a kid and then I went freelance for a bit, etc. Now i have several different self employed ” jobs” and am also studying. I’d much rather focus on the things that are important than merely earning shed loads of money. I am sure this will come back to bite me when I am old but why spend 80% of your life worrying about the last 20%? :)

        • Catherine Chisnall says:

          I totally agree Sally. Why does *everything* have to be monetised/ optimised/ turned into a business? Can’t we just do things because we enjoy doing them?

          I am not a brand. I am a person.

  5. Sebastian says:

    Thank you for this very interesting post Neil.
    Apart from the point that a lot of multipots work a regular nine to five job just to finance their living, I think it is sometimes important what you do out of your job.
    This though raised while reading this article and watching my colleagues & me. They all work as the word software developer suggestes in doing software architecture, defining protocols, programming & so on.
    I hat more problems finding my role here. For I took the job solely for the money. I do some of the development process as well. But next to this I now define requirements, specify the design & style, and organize the software testing. Next to this I work on the manual of the app & the exhibition presentation of the product. In some way these are all fields where I have some interest & enough experience of doing them. I think this way I can play my biggest strenghts, of making different parts work together.
    I need to say it took some time to get this position(s) & enough respect from all the people. As written before, I took the position for the money, but by today I am quite happy what I made out of it. And I have to admit, that there is a lot more interests outside of work, than I can do there.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      It’s definitely difficult to make the right balance work for us, but I’m glad you’ve found a place you’re happy with at the moment. Thanks for sharing your story Sebastian :)

      • Noemie says:

        Same here. I’ve always been some sort of corporate multipod, usually in tiny companies of 3 to 8 employees. My general aptitudes always quickly became apparent and I would take on more and more unrelated tasks and responsibilities as I got bored, while dropping those that no longer motivated me. It always happens organically and I think it relies on respect and openness within the team. Up till now, in my professional life, I’ve been incredibly motivated and efficient during the first year, but I always hit a point where I’m absolutely bored with a job, circa 5 years in, and at that point I’ll look around for the next challenge. I’m new to the concept of multipotentiality, but it has resonated with me very much indeed as soon as I heard Emilie’s Ted Talk. I would love to live out of my creative endeavours, so maybe when boredom takes me again, I’ll look into that possibility.

  6. Marijke says:

    After years of insecurity, not feeling fully developped, studying teaching and later graphic design ánd discovering puttylike.com, I’m finally in a good place.

    I work 2 and 3 days a week as a teacher in elementary school. The rest of the week is for small graphic design jobs and hobbies: making music, learning about new things, getting crafty, reading and going to dance class. Oh, and there’s some laundry and cleaning to do.

    I love my life this way. A monthly paycheck from a never dull job that I really like, and plenty of time for things on the side.


    • Neil Hughes says:

      Yay :) I love hearing these sorts of success stories! Thanks for sharing with us all Marijke. I love the idea of a 2-3 day regular job and then the rest of the time for your other interests. Sounds ideal :)

  7. Aiden says:

    I can’t even begin to describe the sense of serendipity I experienced when I was shown puttylike. I’ve been writing on this kind of stuff a lot recently on my own blog, and it was someone in my audience that turned me on to you all! Ever so grateful…

    I must say, I’ve been a fairly lucky multipod for much of my life. The pang of college major choosings was really the only time I can recall cursing this gift. But…not to worry, dropped out as quick as possible and have been freelancing ever since!

    However, though I’ve been mostly self employed for my entire work-life, I’m still the type will ONLY function in a 9-5 schedule…and boy can I admit that was a tough pill to swallow, “You’re a freelancer! You can and should work whenever you want!” …but I function best (oddly enough) when I’m able to convince myself I’m actually under someone else’s gun and that my schedule is rigid.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I’m the same, Aiden, I work much better to a schedule, though I am toying with experimenting with that a little more. Going to explore this in a future post, I think.

      How did you learn that 9-5 was best for you?

      • Aiden says:

        Good old fashioned trial and error ;-) BUT! I am always doing post-mortem examinations on new little methods I try, because if I perform a trial without recording or analyzing the experience it does me absolutely no good. I wrote a post entitled “The 9 to 5: I’m out! Yay? Perhaps Not.” that illustrates my journey firsthand reaching this conclusion. This turned into a 3 part post about my nine-to-five issues and realizations. I truly don’t mean to self promote here (I swear), but I thought this was appropriate to mention.

        Feel free to edit or delete this comment if the admins feel otherwise :-)


    • Catherine Chisnall says:

      Me too. I can’t be this creative entrepreneur which is popular these days and piece together this fantastic career. I need security and structure.

  8. Magali says:

    Hello Neil!

    Thank you for this article! I sometimes felt a little “left out” or “dull” in the multipotentiolite community because I don’t have an original occupation. Now, I don’t any more!

    I’m in a conventional full-time job. I teach English as a Second Language in Belgium. I’m considering working 4 days a week instead of 5 to give me more time for other fun ativities but the main thing is that my stable job enables me to pay the bills, fund my projects (I spent a month in London last summer volunteering for Oxfam) and it still gives me time to do things I like (I’m currently learning to play the piano and working on the creation of my blog).

    I’m not sure I could cope with the stress resulting from the financial insecurity of a freelance job (and have absolutely no idea as to what that freelance job could be!).

    A few years ago I had two part-time jobs and I loved the variety they brought to every single week. It’s an option I would gladly choose again.


    • Neil Hughes says:

      This makes me feel very warm inside – I really wanted people like you not to feel left out, because you are DEFINITELY a multipod and are choosing to live in a way that works for you. And that’s awesome.

      Thank you so much for sharing, I hope other multipods in your situation get to read it and feel equally affirmed in their life choices :)

  9. Laura says:

    I was been a freelancer/part-timer for years and couldn’t ever imagine having a full-time employed job, but after making the switch 4 years ago, I’m happier. It’s given me security, more freedom to explore my interests and develop new skills, both within my employed role and outside of it. I never had time to do that while building my own business.

    I haven’t stopped my other interests, far from it, and I still do self-employed work alongside my main job. What’s more, I’m continuing to build my career around my multipod skills, which means I’m not tied to one line of work or industry. It’s been a real asset and valued a lot more by employers than I anticipated.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I love this, as I occasionally wonder if I’ll go back to full-time employment – of course it may happen, as no-one can predict the future. And it’s great to hear a story of someone who made the switch and is happier.

      Thank you Laura!

  10. Linda Ursin says:

    Nobody has tried to pressure me into any specific mold for multipods. I wouldn’t put up with it anyway. Jobs are sometimes a good choice, when you like what you do, sometimes the only possible choice at the time. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a “real” multipod. That’s along the lines of a “real” artist, or a “real” pagan. Bus some people, who we choose to call poobahs on the radio station, try to make us fit into their idea of such things anyway.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Exactly, Linda. No-one is policing the multipotentialite identity (thankfully!), which is why I want to make sure we hear from multipotentialites of all kinds – everyone is welcome :)

      And you’re dead right – sometimes it’s a choice, sometimes it’s the only possible choice.

  11. Jen Farrant says:

    Oh yes, on so many levels! I love being a freelancer and trying out so many different things, it really works for me.

    I love offering a variety of services and learning new things!

  12. Angie says:

    I am one of those people working while following my passions outside of it. But I don’t have a 9-5 corporate job–I was lucky to land a job in one of my fields of interests while bringing a decent amount of money for least amount of time. It’s a dream come true so far. But it will be temporary till I save up money to go on my own feet and start a freelance business of my own with utilizing everything I love to do as I travel. So I understand both narratives and am guilty of it myself, but have been lucky enough to have figured it out and pursue all my passions. Now its a matter of struggling with time management and deciding what to study or do first on a daily basis

    For a while there was quite a bit of turmoil within me as I struggled alone to figure out what to do, and it’s so great to have found Emily’s tedx talk and puttylike –as well as a community of people who think in a similar fashion. It is quite a relief to know that there’s nothing wrong with me in loving to do so many things!

  13. Sara R. says:

    This article reminds me of a very specific conversation I had with a friend several years ago. We were both in grad school and he was talking about how I needed to find a focus for my scholarship (I have a Masters in Theology.) It then spilled into having a focus for life and while he insisted that everyone needs to know what they’re doing and follow a plan (cause he had his 5-year study to a phd all worked out), I kept thinking of the variety I wanted to keep in my life and how much structure feels like it inhibits me.

    Personally I have walked both these narratives. When I was right out of college, I determined I was going to work at Starbucks for the rest of my life so I could still work on other things I wanted to pursue. More school, more activities, you know, typical multipod things ;-). Then as bills accrued and cost of living changed, I realized having a full time job from nine to five wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Grant it took working at Starbucks and disneyland before that set in. My ex before he left said “you’re smart and talented. You can do better than button pushing.” That’s how I ended up where I am today. I current work as a claims adjuster which allows me to live out “no one is the same” and connects me to the world of law, business, automobile and home repair as well as an understanding of dollar value of such related items. I think it’s a position someone like me can enjoy because not only can I help my friends with something no one else knows or understands (insurance), but it also gives me multiple avenues to study. I also completed my Masters at night while working–keeping my multi-tasking going. I wouldn’t have been able to work that out without some sort of set schedule I could rely on.

    Sometimes I wonder if we misinterpret structure as a bad thing. As a multi myself, some structure doesn’t inhibit me, but gives me a base of which to reach out from. While I do have more advanced training in the insurance world, I have still training in multiple topics where I can apply myself and get a job in as well. I also have the room to study technology and get involved in the community with other projects completely unrelated to my job. In fact, I have doc training certification and I put that on my work resume and it still got me hired. “Well rounded” I guess screams claims adjuster ? And I work for a company that luckily supports creative, open ideas alongside helping other people.

  14. Sara R. says:

    This article reminds me of a very specific conversation I had with a friend several years ago. We were both in grad school and he was talking about how I needed to find a focus for my scholarship (I have a Masters in Theology.) It then spilled into having a focus for life and while he insisted that everyone needs to know what they’re doing and follow a plan (cause he had his 5-year study to a phd all worked out), I kept thinking of the variety I wanted to keep in my life and how much structure feels like it inhibits me.

    Personally I have walked both these narratives. When I was right out of college, I determined I was going to work at Starbucks for the rest of my life so I could still work on other things I wanted to pursue. More school, more activities, you know, typical multipod things ;-). Then as bills accrued and cost of living changed, I realized having a full time job from nine to five wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Grant it took working at Starbucks and disneyland before that set in. My ex before he left said “you’re smart and talented. You can do better than button pushing.” That’s how I ended up where I am today. I current work as a claims adjuster which allows me to live out “no one is the same” and connects me to the world of law, business, automobile and home repair as well as an understanding of dollar value of such related items. I think it’s a position someone like me can enjoy because not only can I help my friends with something no one else knows or understands (insurance), but it also gives me multiple avenues to study. I also completed my Masters at night while working–keeping my multi-tasking going. I wouldn’t have been able to work that out without some sort of set schedule I could rely on.

    Sometimes I wonder if we misinterpret structure as a bad thing. As a multi myself, some structure doesn’t inhibit me, but gives me a base of which to reach out from. While I do have more advanced training in the insurance world, I have still training in multiple topics where I can apply myself and get a job in as well. I also have the room to study technology and get involved in the community with other projects completely unrelated to my job. In fact, I have doc training certification and I put that on my work resume and it still got me hired. “Well rounded” I guess screams claims adjuster ? And I work for a company that luckily supports creative, open ideas alongside helping other people.

  15. Calvin says:

    Right now I work in a factory, which I think is just about the worst job for a multipotentialite. I’m 21 and I have a son and myself to support. I have only completed a semester of college, so my job prospects are pretty slim. I’m not trying to draw pity, here, but I am wondering if there is anyone here who has faced similar challenges, and how did they get through it?
    Someone once told me that in life we are always balancing hope and duty. I feel that I may have romanticized my sense of duty by not going to college and instead working dead end, unfulfilling jobs.

    • Ross says:

      Hey Calvin, I was browsing through comments and feel compelled to reply to you because I can empathise. Though I do not have dependents to worry about, I understand how the urgency of consistent earning can butt heads with feeling dissatisfied and underappreciated at work. In a nutshell, here’s some things I’ve learned…

      I’ve spent many hours cruising the internet (sites like indeed.com and craigslist — though craigslist sometimes has weird interesting opportunities listed) and this always seemed to me to be counterproductive for two reasons: (A) I rarely if ever found a position that intrigued me and made me think, “that would be a good use of my interests and skills!” and (B) those that were at least mildly interesting usually required some credential that I didn’t (and don’t) have. Aside from that, I rarely if ever got call backs from the positions to which I did apply — tweek a resume, draft a cover letter, act professional, follow up — and this raised more questions than it answered: why am I not getting call backs or any notification that they received my application? are they simply receiving applicants more qualified than I am (I am already overqualified for this job!)? is it because I am overqualified? not a good fit for some other reason? After months of using this approach I finally decided this is an active waste of my time and I am not learning anything from the experience other than, “stop trying”. I’ve also specifically targeted jobs that did interest me, such as working in a hospital laboratory (entry level position). I had to be very persistent and had a few cards stacked against me, but I learned to be professional, follow up, interview, and eventually got the job. The only problem with this for me was that it turned out I struggle with the high level of structure and monotony in a job like that, but to each his/her own. I did the same thing to land a job as a medical cannabis research assistant, but this is where it was helpful to have friends who know people and can make an introduction.

      This is the strategy I have realized is extremely valuable since what I’ve been doing for the past 18 months would not be possible without friends who can connect me to people seeking my mind. It hasn’t been totally consistent and steady, but I’m working on that. Since March I have been working for a small company (technically a startup) that a friend started — he is a multipotentialite too (it is strange to have name for that) and the company is designed around that; we are hired by other companies and individuals to help them get their ideas to market, among some other administrative things that I don’t normally deal with. This means I will do market research for a company in video surveillance for a few months, then switch gears to help someone start a service for dogs and dog owners, then help build a game for a new app, then use my chemistry degree to formulate cosmetic products. This has been really great for a lot of reasons, but I can see that it would be nice to have something that is consistent that I enjoy and can keep building on one or a certain set of skills. Now I’m in a new place where I don’t know anyone besides some immediate family, and I met someone at trivia the other night who has a friend who is leaving his job at a urinalysis lab. Things like that happen all the time — and let me tell you, I am not a model of sociability. I do not make new friends very easily and typically do not like crowded places, but I am going out of my way to allow these types of things to happen.

      I don’t know if this resonates with you, I hope you can derive something useful from my experience. I’m sure I could say a lot more. We are all learning and trying to figure out this thing called life — at best we’re really smart apes floating through space on a rock, and sometimes it just helps to keep things in perspective. I’d be happy to link up somehow if you want to chat. Good luck!

    • Catherine Chisnall says:

      Hi Calvin

      The only advice I’ve got for you is ‘stick with your college course’ Please. You don’t want to end up in your 40s like me saying ‘I’m really intelligent, I’ve got lots of skills but no certificates to prove it, therefore people don’t take me seriously and I earn a pittance.’ Please stick with it :)

      • Ross says:

        Agreed! What a college degree really tells people is that you were able to stick with something that took a lot of time and commitment from start to finish. Many people like to talk about everything a college degree is NOT, but that is one thing that it IS.

  16. Martina P. says:

    Hi Neill! Thanx for your post and for reaching out to the world in order to find different styles of multipods. I stumbled over puttylike last week “by chance” – in fact I don’t think coincidents like this exist – and was triggered by your question now to share my experiences.
    I never worked as a freelancer and always had fulltime jobs with more than 40 hours per week, but I learned that being happy with the situation depends on the company. Close to 10 years in a consulting company gave me all the possibilities to be creative and to constantly learn new things; whenever they asked me to do some specialization and decide for a main topic, I refused and asked for a mix of tasks. It worked out extremely well with benefits for both parties in the end and as a person traveling a lot I even had the advantage of not being linked to the office and being able to shape my working day however I wanted. After a huge restructuring, the part with the creativity went to a different department, so I decided to leave. And came to a totally different world: a manager role in an industry environment. And I learned that there are people who love rules and fixed hours and see creativity as something spooky to be surpressed, as it may result in changes. But change is not wanted. I earned a lot of money – but the job wasn’t about me at all, so I took the decision to leave. And now I am looking for a new place to work to bring in my different skills and be creative again. So my summary sounds like that: There are great 9 to 5 places existing to flourish and juggle with different interests, combined with a fixed income. And when the job is about something you love or like to do, there will be the time and energy to have even more interests besides. But as they are not the majority, it’s my task now to find them. And I will find them :-)

  17. fredrik says:

    your article resonates with me. i am a published poet and see that as my main focus, but i also translate (plays and film scripts) and I am a qualified book binder, with my own binding studio, and i print limited editions, i teach creative writing classes, and the various book binding skills, and although all this SOUNDS like full time work, it doesn’t always pay all the bills. So I work with sick elderly people too, as a regular 50% job, with a friendly supportive boss that allows me flexi time. writing about people, I am a social peoples person, so the time i spend on my ‘compromise’ job, is also the very activity that feeds many many hours of my writing job with fresh insight and ideas.

  18. Damien says:

    Hey Neil,

    Thanks for writing this. After creating a debut sold out festival for 250 people http://www.veganfutures.com/blog/2015/11/11/thanks-so-much-for-making-vegan-futures-amazing I am facing the prospect of full-time work, whilst I create a new co-working creative space and agency to launch in the new year.

    I was feeling a bit down about it until I read this and now I think it might be a nice challenge. I will hope to meet all you UK multipod’s soon.


  19. Catherine Chisnall says:

    Another great post from Neil! :)

    I am a writer without a conventional job but not thriving by any means. I haven’t got an overarching theme or multi income streams or a talent for entrepreneurship. So I thought I was failing at being a multipotentialite.

    Then I thought, using the definitions from Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose, all those things are what Cyclical Scanners do- go round and round picking up their interests and putting them down again. Like spinning plates.

    However, I’m a Sequential Scanner so I do interest A for a while, then move on to interests B, C, D etc never returning to them afterwards. I decided from now on the best I can do is to work week by week as that is the furthest I can plan ahead.

    I wonder if there is any specific advice for Sequential Scanners?

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Interesting, Catherine! Sounds like we’re in a similar boats – I haven’t read Barbara’s book but I definitely identify with how you describe your experience as a Sequential Scanner.

      (and the writing without thriving bit too, but hopefully the thriving will come soon for both of us ;p)

      Will think about the sequential aspect and see if I can pick up on any advice for the likes of us – may be something worth exploring on the blog soon after a bit of research :)

      • Catherine Chisnall says:

        You definitely should read Barbara’s book, it helps a lot. Basically Sequential Scanners throw themselves into an interest or two, gets immersed in it, then move on rarely or never to return.

        I started out in banking for a year, then was a student of Victorian History at university for 3 years, then worked in libraries for 4 years, then charities for 3 years, then education for 10 years, now I’ve been a writer for 5 years. Chunks of interests, you see.

        I loved studying and working in education, I enjoyed libraries and charities, but can’t imagine ever going back to them, those parts of me have been exhausted. I feel like I’ve been there, done that, why on earth would I go back?

        However I now have lots of skills but no pieces of paper to say I can do anything. I never wanted to get qualified because I didn’t want to be stuck in those job areas, but now I realise those pieces of paper would tell the story of my achievements.

        • Liubov says:

          You are bringing up interesting points on certificates. I too find myself being a sequential scanner- only that I am sticking to one major interest for longer period of time. HOWEVER, even having a certificate in an area I will never return to does not help me in an area I am in RIGHT NOW. I started in banking (spent 18 yesr there), got 3 certificates (stock trader, asset manager, asset appraiser), then moved on to private banking (hoping THIS is the area where I could use ALL of the things, as one never kows what a client will be interested int). Then markets collapsed, I find myself deep in studying psychology (got a certificate just as a proof or attending the course)-however, experience+some certifcates is not enough to advise others…MBA+ other financial certificates are from another sphere…no use, in otherwords..So, I find it challenging getting a certificate in EVERY field where I am exploring (could be a year, could be 10 years…)…I only wait and see my inner gut response- should I get a paper proving something? I see that many people do not get a certificate and just go by name “mentor”…well-well, it is tricky:would you trust a pshychologist being wothout a certificate and naming herself a mentor? i doubt it…do you need a certificate in writing for writing on your own blog? Nah, you don’t…so, to make long story short- proving professionalism is a challnge for a multipod…it comes with time, and I think that is why our careers take LOOOOONG to develope and ripen…This is what I think.

          A great article, Neil. I like your sense of humor- it really helps a multipod) otherwise, if take life too seious, one WILL end up being in a job?:-)

          • Catherine Chisnall says:

            The thing is if you don’t have certificates, there is a big gap on your CV (resume). People say ‘what did you do in those years?’ I have no answer for them apart from ‘I worked in ___ field’ and they stare blankly at me, wondering what on earth I was doing all that time. If I’d taken qualifications I’d have a sense of pride, achievement, evidence that I am capable of something, rather than just whiling away the years. I’m 47 now, rather too old to retrain and start afresh. Oh well.

  20. Cecilia says:

    This article just came to me in a time when I’m transitioning to a challenging but otherwise pretty standard employee position as a Software Tester.

    During my time between jobs I went through all kinds of options including starting studying Psychology, Medicine or Renewable Energy (things I have been glimpsing at for the past 15 years least), starting work as a freelancer, joining a self-sustaining community anywhere far away from where I am right now and some other things along the line. The thought of picking up just the next job where I highly depend on random people making random decisions almost drove me mad.

    But when I thought about why I had turned towards software testing in the first place I recognised that – at least if you live it like I do – it is an almost ideal work for a multipod. I need to dive in deeply into skillsets and mindsets of designers, product and project managers, developers, all kinds of customers and user types to make sure what the team delivers is the very best thing the customer can get at a given point and under the given circumstances. As a plus, it is something I have done for a while now and gained sought-after experience in.

    Working as an employee at an experienced level puts me in a place where I can take piano lessons, join a little short-term music project with my violin and even do some gardening alongside which I definitely couldn’t afford or fit in if I took the “get back to uni” or any other path that would restrict me even more to just one thing for a long time.

    Even though this has been said and written all too often: In the end, it is you who has to live up by the decisions you make and the course of action you choose. I strongly believe that as long as no harm is done to anyone else, whatever feels right for you to do (after some reasonable reality checks) is the right thing to do.

  21. Tata says:

    Narrative three: The Real World is wild and we have to (pretend to) dance their music in order to cross all their battlefield and get to the other side, where there are the peace and the financial stability. The jobs are the places where we learn how some parts of the war machine works, how they hit us, where they try to wound us. We go through getting wounded and learning the music. Some time we will know how to detour the spikes while moving forward.

  22. Ross says:

    This is very relevant for me because I am intensively working through these problems now, and have been since I graduated college in 2012. Only now am I beginning to create a more coherent mental picture of the lifestyle that would satisfy me — I have worked several “9 to 5’s”, most of them interesting at that (pathology lab assistant, medical cannabis research assistant/consultant, snowboard instructor…), but around the one year mark I lose my mind and no matter the inherent value I recognize in the position, cannot handle the monotony and feel like I’m in a mental prison. Dramatic? maybe; it’s just how I feel. I have not yet realized the conventional job that will satisfy the scientist, the tutor/teacher, the author/reporter, the musician, the engineer, and the athlete within me (or any combination thereof), and over the last year have sought out a very different path. This path sounds like the typical multipotentialite to which you’ve eluded, and already I have discovered that neither of these two extremes will offer what I am seeking, as stability in steady cash flow has become increasingly important (or lack thereof become increasingly hindering!). I am anxious because though I am only 26, I fear spending too much of my life trying to solve this puzzle whilst life’s opportunities pass me by. It’s kind of difficult to worry about supporting a partner and potentially a family when so much is so uncertain, not to mention, what smart individual would want to take a risk on someone who has not yet achieved that stability?

    In general, I have faith in life, the universe, and my course therein but always in the back of my mind (at best) are these worries and concerns. I’m glad I found this today and will be adding it to my list of weekly readings to look for advice and encouraging tidbits that actually seem relevant to me (one of my favorite resources is Farnam Street blog).

  23. Emma says:

    arrgghhhhh! this connection to multimode world is freaking me out – in a good way – i have honestly never understood myself, and i am only just beginning to now – there is so much to a multipotentialite and i am only just beginning this new journey or understanding, i have so much to share here but for now i just need to deeply listen to myself nd the others who relate to this phenomenon !!! human potential is incredible!!!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      :) I’m so glad you’re feeling this, Emma. Keep searching and keep finding the right balance for you. You’re very welcome here.

  24. Gabi says:

    I think I am facing the uncomfortable fact that I like having a paycheck. I had a full time teaching gig, but quit because I was working 55 hours, was getting burned out, and had no time for other interests. Now I have a part time less interesting job (with benefits) but have time to try other things. I’m finding out I’m not much of an entrepreneur but my creative self needs expressing, my part time work is giving me that freedom. I think full time work will probably be in my future just because the usual multipod issue of boredom at work looms in my future. Trying to assuage it by being super creative in my off days but the pressure to “be productive” is also kind of causing stress. It’s a dilemma.

    • Misty says:

      I’m also a teacher and work about 55 hours a week. I like my job, there really isn’t anything terrible about it, but I’m exhausted. I never see my family, never have time to do anything else but work. I like the regular paycheck but it’s not entirely necessary. I actually quit last summer and decided to go back and now, here it is only 1/3 of the way through the school year and I want to quit again. Part time work is great, but part time teaching jobs are scarce where I live, unless in a daycare for minimum wage.

  25. Carol says:

    I have done a lot of different jobs, from retail, to owning my own business to tech work. But for the most part I have been employed by someone. One job allowed me to move into a different field while remaining in the same position – Desktop support to curriculum development/training. I have been training now for several years. But burning out – something I seem to do with everything about every ten years.

    I have a ton of interest that I try to keep up with by reading (failing at that for the last couple years). And my craft room almost always looks like there was an explosion as I move from one project to another, then back to the original project.

    But I always seem to need a paycheck…. maybe some day I will move from that but for now it is what it is.

  26. George says:

    I could say that the moment i have a full time job, working with people with disabilities and autism, mainly, and sometimes gifted and talented children. Also, i write books, have a financial independence plan to achieve in the next 4-5 years, when i will probably quit the main job to completely dedicate myself to other projects, 3-4-5 side hustle small business, sometime i work with an agency in healthcare, some travel club company and other similar odd jobs, depending how much money i need for my new projects and courses. But at the moment more than 80% of my expenses are covered by my main job.

  27. Laura says:

    Great thought-provoking article Neil. I spent the last 15 years as narrative 1 – full-time artist, then life changed and Narrative 2 has been in motion for the past 5 years as a marketing officer for a University.

    After many years of soul searching – building skills, knowledge and confidence in my experiences, I believe there are no hard and fast rules. The hardest part is accepting oneself and being confident that what you are doing in any given moment is right, if it feels right. People always have an opinion and they will always make it known. It’s up to us whether we choose to wear the comments that weigh us down.

    I am a practicing artist (actor, performer, puppeteer, deviser, maker, visual artist, video artist, dancer…). I worked odd jobs to pay the rent as I jumped from gig to gig, touring the world and creating or hunting for the next job. In Australia, the art industry is dire for artists who are independent and experimental, especially if you don’t conform to the current art business model.

    As I transformed from collaborative to exploring my solo art practice, I needed work that was stable. Having a shifting lifestyle for a firey and easily ungrounded type like me it was clear I needed something solid, grounding, routine and something I could sink my teeth into. I needed to learn about the world. I needed to learn about everyday people. I needed to get into life and learn about what everyone and myself complained about from the outside realm regarding 9-5, working for the man, becoming a sell-out with marketing actions. I needed a routine to appreciate the spaces of time that were available for me to create art.

    What a life-changing and satisfying experience it has been so far in my new position. 9-5 is certainly hard and has hugely reduced the number of art projects I can work on but the contemporary marketing skills I have developed, the people I have met and interact with daily, and the challenges I face keep me so engaged. This is important to me as an artist. All of my art skills and experiences are in constant utilisation. The despair I felt when entering this new world has definitely lifted. The job has paid for my art trips, professional development, tools and equipment, opportunities to meet artists globally.

    When I received a promotion for my job recently – a job a I had no previous qualifications in marketing – just the hard work, the knowledge I built there and the experience I brought with me – I really had to look hard at my internal dialogue and how it had affected me from moving forward in life and grabbing it with full passion. I had previously boxed myself in… now I believe and strive to live BIG and know I can do anything – other peoples and my own conflicting words or beliefs have no power over me.

    You know, being an artist is EVERY second of the day, EVERY DAY. I can’t switch off… it comes with me into my every experience. It is constantly present. You can put me in my car everyday for the long ride back and forth from work – you can put me in front a computer in a dim lit office 5 days a week, you can sit me in a boardroom with suits and ties… I am still an artist. My ideas still flow through me like flicking through a mental journal. I am on constant alert to find the gaps of time, to keep my creative soul alive and make work which is authentic and speaks to my audience.

    Being a multipotentialite means to live holistically. Encompassing lifestyle. Everything I do informs the other parts of the multi’s of myself. From being a professional to an artist and vice versa. And that is in a nutshell… dare I mention the vineyard business my partner and I manage.

    Thanks for opportunity to share.


    • Neil Hughes says:

      That’s a wonderful story, Laura! Loving how you’re making everything work for you at the moment. (Also very excited to hear about this vineyard… definitely keep us informed on that as it develops :p)

      Thank you so much for sharing :)

  28. Tim says:

    What a great article! I have been sharing with others about myself and the discovery of being a self-described potentialite. What a relief to now know. What I am confronting is an external conflict with what many folks described me as ADHD. Is this a common debate among outsiders and multipods?

    Thank you!

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Interesting question Tim. Have to confess I don’t know the answer, but I’ll do some research and maybe write about this dilemma in future :) Hopefully someone will see your comment and chime in if they know!

  29. rohit says:

    hey there… i am honestly posting this comment by diminishing my ego…. i never said in my life to help me… but here i am saying this… i really need help. i am 31 done 4-5 jobs software enginee to lecturer to astt. professor to home tutor to blogger to help people doing different projects related to bussiness studies philosphy to politics to biology . helping artist to tell them meaning of their created art… even artist say that i have a different thougt level of art… painter .. i can’t paint but i can analyse best.. i write poems, stories for school and college students as free lancer. do advertisement and business cunsultation,,, but i dont have a job…..no income… nothing.. being in india where person like me is considered to be doomed. I heard this multipotentialite term first time in my life .i was searching help over youtube and saw your lecture on tedex after watching those so many videos on motivation which failed to create a spark in me… well i eas really good in studies till my post graduate level.. best programmer in my class .. but now i have nothing left with me.. my future appearing to be dark… dont know how to handle the pressure of parents friends finance and my own ego and my nature of jumping from one branch to other… please help me… i am losing hope in anything and feeling like depressed day by day .. please help…

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Hi Rohit. That sounds like a very tough situation, and I’m sorry you’re struggling so hard. It sounds like you need some support from those around you – I’m sorry you’re struggling with your family and friends at the moment. Perhaps there is someone you know who you can confide in?

      Remember you don’t have to be the best to be happy – it sounds like you’re pressuring yourself a lot, and feeling the pressure from those around you. I hope you can allow yourself to relax a little, and to find somebody close to you who can help share the burden with you.

      Asking for help is a sign of strength, so well done for doing it here. I hope you can be strong enough to ask for help from those close to you too.

      Sending positive thoughts from everyone here :)

      • rohit says:

        thanks for the reply …. well i feel i should do my work and should not worry about others… just trying to bind all my interests in one stream and work like a creater not like a dumb .. thanks for ur help

  30. Claire says:

    Thanks so much for this post! It’s really helpful to see the big picture laid out sometimes. In case there’s anyone who’s scrolled down and read this far, I just want to chime in as another multipotentialite who’s currently working a 9-5 that’s not my primary interest, and fine with it!

    I’m a “youngin,” first of all, at 24, and working for a regional publishing company. Although I’m currently doing sales, which sounds awful and sometimes is, there’s been a ton of flexibility and room for me to be self-guided in this job. I reorganized our entire Special Sales division, and now I have two exciting opportunities ahead at my job: the chance to help us change all over again as we merge with another company, and also getting the chance to try my hand at editing and move over into that department. Although none of this is really my passion (because I’ll be editing a rather boring type of nonfiction guidebooks, not the fun stuff I want to edit!)…. ALL of it is expanding my skill sets and teaching me things about systems I know nothing about. And it’s putting food on the table and keeping a roof over my head.

    I’m not sure how yet, but I’m sure all these new knowledges are going to help me in the things I’m more passionate about: writing (fiction & nonfiction), community building and activism, visual arts endeavors, writing a collaborative musical album, teaching, and (someday) creative parenting.

    So I just wanted to encourage people who are doing the 9 to 5 – not only is it okay and a valid choice, you can also try to leverage it to help you keep learning, and maybe someday lead to crazy awesome future things. Take on an extra individual project at work – it’ll keep your creative brain motivated, and you may impress your boss. See if you can catapult yourself into something a little different even as you bumble along in the rat race.

    Thanks again, Neil! I’ve been lurking on puttylike for a while and all you and Emilie do is really appreciated.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      This response made me grin so much, thank you Claire :D Delighted you decided to chime in after lurking, you’re extremely welcome, and I hope you keep us updated on your passions and growths! I love the positive attitude you have at everything you’ve got going on :)

  31. Alison Joy Willard says:

    Excellent post. Thank you for this. I am new to the liberating idea of multipotentialism, and when I first discovered it I was so happy to be able to feel understood and that I had community. Very shortly after this honeymoon phase, I began to compare myself to the multipotentialites used in eamples and felt I didn’t measure up. Maybe I’m not a multi after all? Maybe I’m just confused or attention deficit or lazy? I began to wonder.
    So I needed this post.
    I work as a barista, and although this job is fun, it isn’t necessarily fulfilling or glamorous. But what it does give me is the time and energy (not to mention housing, food, etc) necessary to pursue my other hobbies and interests. And although these hobbies haven’t brought me any extra income and maybe never will, they make me feel alive and fulfilled in combination. So I am grateful with my “Einstein” approach, although I may never write a theory of relativity with it ?

    • Neil Hughes says:

      I’m glad this made you realise you’re definitely part of the club and that you do measure up :)

      And that’s a great way of looking at it. Not all of us are going to create the next theory of relativity (I’m DEFINITELY not..!) but we can all enjoy that feeling of being alive as we explore our interests.

      Thank you :)

  32. Ali says:

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for your article, I really enjoyed it. It’s really beneficial to read differing viewpoints.

    I think I would consider myself a multipotentialite. I’ve spent the last 10 years in a perpetuatal state of anxiety about what to do with my life. Trying different things, hopping from one area to another, declaring every few months a different career path to my family, in the hope of working out my ‘one true calling’ or finding the one thing I’m good at.

    I’ve gone from office job to office job, as it’s the only experience on my cv but never satisfied with the work or environment. When I tried to explore different endeavors it fell apart or I was rejected for not having the right experience or qualification. I began to come to the conclusion that I’m just not creative, not good at anything I thought would be cool to be involved with or careers I admired. I see other people doing things and compare myself and lack of ability to them. I just didn’t really know where I belonged and even if I did, I wouldn’t be good enough for it, or qualified for it, didn’t have the money to start again, or just felt too old to start again (I’m 29), etc etc.

    Eventually I landed in the role I’m in today, it’s a corporate office job for a nonprofit. It’s okay. I have the freedom to explore my strengths and weaknesses, not particularly in an area that inspires me but I’m learning nonetheless. I still struggle with the fact that I’m here,an office clone, not making a difference, not inspired, not particularly satisfied but don’t know what the alternative is. I feel like I have been flattened of all other possible options or ideas. I feel disillusioned and devoid of inspiration. I don’t know what I like anymore. And I feel like such a broken record that I will just have to accept that this is how I make money; and that if I don’t know what to do, do nothing, stay put.

    But I can’t. So I’m currently saving to go traveling with the hope of devine inspiration finding me along my journey. But I have to be pragmatic also, and prepare for the fact that nothing may come to me either. The vicious cycle of an overthinker, eh?

    So I work in the corporate job, explore interests in my free time, wait for my escape (which in itself causes me anxiety) and still wonder where to from here? Or is there even anywhere left to go? Is this it?

    Would love to hear your thoughts… And those of other readers even!

    Thanks to all at puttylike for providing this platform.

    Warm regards

    • Neil Hughes says:

      Totally get all of this, Ali!

      Just to say, 29 is definitely not too old. I quit my job at 31 to see if I could make a go of freelancing as a coder, writer, comedian, speaker. And maybe it won’t work out and I’ll go back to full-time employment (which would be fine, I’d be happy to have tried). Or maybe it will.

      But I could have done that at any age – depending on my responsibilities, of course.

      I like this comic from SMBC which I have behind my desk in poster form:

      I don’t want to encourage you to quit, as I don’t know your situation and I don’t know what’s a good or bad idea. But you clearly have a drive to do something else. Is there a way of moving more of your interests into your job? Is there another job you could try? Can you reduce your hours at the corporate job and spend a day a week working on building up something else? Or perhaps you can change your mentality and enjoy the fact that the job provides you with financial security to explore your interests outside of it?

      Just some thoughts. Hope it helps and that you find a way to balance everything :)

  33. Liubov says:

    Hello Neil,

    thanks for such an insightful article. How different multipods are- just unbelievable…One thing I noticed is that we as multipods (and others, who are not) try to compare themselves to the others…I found it very tricky for myself- easy to lose self-esteem and own path through life…No one will endure a comparison. What I do is I compare myself now to myself several years ago- and in that way analyze how I’ve done…Finding specialists to work with on the way really helps (if one lacks communication skills- try to find someone who knows more, if in finance- fid someone to share, etc)- and this whole website came out as a great support. I like when there are views from a different angle and one does not have to stick to conventional truth (which is biased:-)).

    And I somehow now feel comfort that it is not the problem with being a scanner person- it is the world, which is the way, that does not welcome many and different…

    Recently I have started reading a book of Dr Elaine Aron “The undervalued self” about linking vs ranking to others…True, that when we compare ourselves to the others- we rank (and our self-esteem falls down). BUT, the idea is to find a way to link to people- to non-multipods, to others- and see if there is an opportunity for cooperation. That sort of reframing of cooperation really helped me start finding more opportunities to work with non-scanner-majority:)But this is by far a very hard way at times…

    Also, what do you put into the word “to be happy”? It could be a language difference- but I think that when people are told you do so and so and then you feel happy…And then someone coes back-and say- non, I do not feel happy (completely happy)…I think this is a bit tricky (then people go on looking for ways to make oneself happy…), what do you think? I as a multipod probably will go for satisfaction from what I do, rather than concentrate on happiness (which is elusive). What do you think?

  34. Saskia says:

    Thank you for this post!
    I’m also not self-employed. Actually, I’m not employed at all. I am a stay-at-home mum at the moment, and it gives me some time to pursue my hobbies and social life as well. And, although I miss work, I love this way my life is right now more than I ever thought I would.
    Not having a job, let alone several freelancing, start-up businesses made me feel like I didn’t really belong to the multipotentialite community. I feel like a multipotentialite but I don’t belong. So thanks for this post, it made me realise that even though my job at the moment is being a parent, I still belong. Which is super-important, because the entire reason I love puttylike is because it accepts people for the are and want to be in life. And made me realise I don’t have to conform to one certain ideal of career success.

    • Neil Hughes says:

      That’s wonderful Saskia – you definitely belong, and I wanted this article to make sure that was clear :D We’re all different, but we’re all still multipotentialites :)

  35. Liz says:

    Thank you for this post. I struggle with this on so many levels, even though I only recently discovered multipotentialitism. On one hand, my 9-5 job is a pain but with a husband, a kid and a beautiful home that inspires me (but costs lots of monies) a paycheck is a must. But even the best jobs still have moments of boredom for me.

    So I think often about creating something new, becoming an entrepreneur, taking some risks. And that also makes me feel completely trapped. I have self-employed friends and I’ve seen their stresses and headaches and talk about boring duties! I have absolutely zero desire to be my own boss.

    Then, I began to wonder: should I seek out an easier job, something that is menial and repetitive, but doesn’t require much mental energy so I can come home and paint, write, read, knit, bake and learn quantum physics in my spare time? I tried it and guess what? That doesn’t work either. Being bored all day is the most draining thing I could possibly do to myself. I come home miserable and tired and don’t want to do anything but zone out.

    For me, I don’t think there’s ever going to be one answer. I have to fight to love what I do every minute of the day and the battles will always be different. Sometimes that means taking a risk and leaving a crappy job. Sometimes that means sticking with a crappy job and refocusing my energy at home. It’s always going to mean being open to new opportunities, being willing to take risks and proactively managing my energy in order to balance bringing home a paycheck and being engaged in something fascinating.

    After all, quantum physics is not going to learn itself. :)

  36. Liz says:

    Ive honestly always had problems keeping a job. Not finding something that interest me made me very frustrated with my self, thinking I had problems committing to a particular subject and finding my true “passion” and stuff like that. Then I also thought that why commit to one thing, if I only found a way to put together different things I liked I could get by.

    That was my struggle, still is but I get it now. I can do both things, I started taking jobs I was interested in and then I was able to be happier working at an office.

    Recently I came across the multipotentialite TED talk on their website and it hit me like a storm that I was one of them, I have many interests that I want to pursue but I also enjoy my current job even though it takes a lot of my time every day.

    So right now I’m trying to focus on getting the other part, the rest of my insterests involved somehow into this and I may want the day to last longer eventually but I think it would be for the best.

  37. F. says:

    I just discovered Puttylike and I really enjoyed this post. I think I might be into this category, with the additional luck that I am trying to pursue an academic career.

    As a child I got passionate about meteorology, botanics, marine biology, geology, I played the piano (not very well, to be honest!) and I always have been a natural drawer. I chose classical studies in high school, but I discovered I liked biology and wanted to be a physician. Then a biotechnologist. Then, of course, I decided to study phisics of the atmosphere. One year I also taught meteorology to aeronautical students, but after graduation I chose a Ph.D. in statistics, which I really enjoyed. I now research in econometrics, but also phisics-related stuff. I am assistant in some classes and a freelance consultant for a big firm, in the free time I am now practicing zen doodling, which is like a drawing yoga (also, I tried real yoga for some times and learned a lot from it).
    I am in therapy and this made me realise how interesting psychology is, so I now would like to graduate again, though I have to wait for burocratic reasons, and who knows if I will still be interested then!
    I like reading about everything by the way, and multipotentiality is really helping me in this career path, which I think is perfect for me (no fixed office hours, just to say…I take plenty of free time and no one ever complained about my work!).

    This post is maybe a little bit meant to suggest to multipotential people not to rule out research too quickly, multidisciplinarity is very important nowadays and seen as a valuable feature.

  38. Pmaltby says:

    I saw the term corporate multipod quite a few posts back, and though hey that is me. I often refer to myself as the utility player because no matter where I work, no matter what my job title, I am generally found doing several different jobs at once. I currently have 3 very different part time jobs with the same company. For me this makes sense, as they are all in the same field but different enough to keep me from being bored. I am different in that I tend to work in helping professions,., for ex I was a nurse and worked in several different departments at once. I am now working on my nmasters in counseling and work in several different areas of residential rehab facility. BTW I am 58 and a serial career multipod as well as a company multipod. I am new to finding this out because my professor assigned Emilie’s TED talk as a class assignment in Career Development.

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