Which Multipotentialite Season Are You In?

Which Multipotentialite Season Are You In?

Written by Emilie

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

There are times when we’re running full speed on a project (or a handful of projects). We’re deep in it and we feel the momentum. When new, random ideas pop into our minds, we push them to our “someday lists” without much angst. We’re too in love with our main thing(s) right now.

There are times when we’ve been at something for a while–years even–and our work isn’t feeling quite as inspiring or challenging as it once did. We feel a nagging inside that we try to ignore. We continue on, basking in the comfort of the familiar for a while longer, but knowing that a change of some sort is on the horizon.

There are times when we consciously tweak our routines. We integrate new ideas or mediums into our work. We mix things up in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We experiment within existing structures or even try out new hobbies on the side, all with the goal of adding more multidimensionality to our life.

There are times when we rest, reflect, and prioritize self-care. We get outside more. We pare down and simplify. We don’t work intensely on any big projects. We just recover.

There are times when everything is new. We’ve shed our old skin. We’ve taken a huge leap. The slate is blank. It’s scary, but oh so thrilling! We start experimenting and playing. We paint, draw, take a programming course, read about molecular evolution, dabble in photography, take up mountain biking, write a novel, and start three businesses. We’re whirling.

These seasons don’t necessarily follow in sequence, but they are distinct phases that I’ve noticed when speaking with multipotentialites, as well as in my own life.

Sometimes, in a huddle, there will be one multipod in the group who’s bored and contemplating a big change, another who’s having a blast exploring ALL THE THINGS, and another who is very seriously pursuing one or two projects and wants advice on something specific like launching their course or self-publishing a graphic novel.

They each need different things: advice, accountability, permission to be unproductive, links to Coursera courses…

Some of these seasons are more comfortable than others, though they all have their joys and their challenges.

But mostly,

Whatever season you’re in,

It’s okay.

Your Turn

Do you move through different seasons? What season are you in right now?

Emilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike and The Puttytribe, where she helps multipotentialites build lives and careers around ALL their interests. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is the author of How to Be Everything (HarperCollins). Learn more about Emilie here.

30 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    Wow, this pretty sums up my entire life so far!

    I’m definitely in the second season you described. I’m graduating in architectural engineering and it doesn’t feel like when it started at all. I remember I was enthusiastic at the beginning of my educational path, but now it’s like I’m losing interest day after day.
    Even if I don’t regret my choice I don’t think I’ll commit my entire life to this field…and what is worst is that no one of my college buddies gets it! It seems everyone of them have found their path, while I’m just waiting for this to end and experiment something new.

    I’ve always felt like if there was something wrong with me about that, but now it feels so good to know I’m not alone in this world!

  2. Talita says:

    This is really a pat on the back to say “I understand you”, as all your and the Puttylike community’s work always does. I am on the second day of a new job that started me into the next “absolute certainty” of my life and read the “It’s scary, but oh so thrilling! ” bit with a huge grateful smile and nod! It’s good to hear that it’s ok to be scared. One of the things that I’ve been learning (from the Headspace “Change” pack) is that nothing is forever, which is a great thing because it gives you freedom to live… as a true Multipod!

  3. Catherine says:

    I’m usually in the rest and recover season as I have low energy. I only occasionally hit the other ones.

    Great post though, just what I need.

  4. Nitsan Tal says:

    I’m currently at the peak of the first category. After making a couple of short documentaries as “practice”, I’m finally completing the one I’ve been preparing for, and feel it will be a good one. I’m also already researching and collecting material for my next documentary. But… knowing myself, I suspect it will be my last one. I don’t know what will come next, I might venture in a different direction in film making or get hooked on something completely different. I’ve been thinking of writing a sci-fi book….

  5. Pattie Fowler says:

    I retired at the end of last year from activities at a senior living community working with both independent living seniors and mild to moderate Alzheimer’s people and loved it but started feeling like something needed to change. Since I’ve retired I’ve been “nursing” my husband. He just had a hip replacement and will require another one In about three more months!! AND… Oh my Lord… This is draining! I thought retirement was supposed to be fun and doing things that I always wanted to do… Like bicycle more. Maybe go on some long distance rides or even find a new hobby. I also have been (long distantly) getting my mom and sister established in a senior apartment kind of place… Not a nursing home (as my mom made clear to me!!).
    In my mind, I am giving all this about a year because I thinks “this too shall pass!” Then I want to make some plans to travel and go on some long distant bike trips! But right now, I am feeling trapped!! Thanks for “listening”!!!

  6. I’m currently in 3 and 5, working my way to 4. I notice that I am constantly moving between those descriptions.

  7. Michael says:

    Thanks for this post!

    Although I’m at a rather early section in my life, I had to make up several mindmaps of the ideas randomly popping up :D somewhere in my brain. This bowl of ideas including theoretical concepts of any sort, ideas about some app or business model, the next piece of furniture I want to build or reminders of the most interesting courses on edX :O is just spilling over…

    Inspired by this post I think you can apply this concept of categorizing ups and downs (and in our case definitely multiplications and decimations of the number of projects) to seasons within either our entire life, some years or, as I experience it, one single day!

    As mentioned in the “last season”, everything besides molecular evolution and entrepreneurship sounds quite familiar to me. Maybe these turn out to be my next thrilling projects or just new parts of the salad :D

    Sorry that I have to uglify this comment but as a result of some sort of bug Catherine’s e-mail address and her name appeared in my input boxes after reloading which I guess shouldn’t be the case… just mentioned it, great post!

  8. Walter says:

    i would add one more, i’m im a day that i feel completely lost about what to do, in conflict of being a specialist or accepting my multipotentiality every week my “who i want to be when i grow” answer changes! i know that could be much more easier to myself to just choose one thing but i really can’t do it

  9. Elaina Sorenson says:

    I am in the last season you mentioned. I am trying to make a career change and shed my old skin. The strategies I am trying are moving into a different position in my current job or looking for a new one. The Puttylike community is so awesome. I have a better understanding of who I am because of it.

  10. SREEVENI V says:

    Hi,
    I’m in the last of the mentioned stages, though they do not follow a sequence. Completely shed my old skin and a leap forward ahead unpredictable, yet at the height of excitement of starting all over again. A child like curiosity, enthusiasm and drive to explore and join the dots of learning to form a pattern.

  11. Jill says:

    I am 50 years old and just starting a degree through night school while hanging onto my full time job. The hardest thing has been knowing that I will have to give up, or seriously reduce, all my side projects for the next five years. Suddenly the world is full of new things I want to try and it is taking real effort to keep focussed.

  12. Carine JORIOT says:

    :-) …Suddenly again after 18 month at my new position…I feel SO SO empty , I come at work with no other reason than lunch break = time to go swimming AND italian lesson online once a week. [I speak already 6 languages just for fun] But the reality is that I have 20 more years at work…So season to rest and maybe think of building my own business with my partner… Thanks for sharing and inspirating us through these seasons of life … Carine

  13. Patrick says:

    Great post!

    I wouldn’t say I’m without angst in terms of striking a balance between different passions but I’m definitely in the first season at present, although I do recognise all the rest as places I have visited in the last year.

  14. Diletta says:

    Hey everyone! I’m new to puttylike, so I’m just starting to get my way around it.
    I guess my phases loop in a mixed way, both for personal factors and surrounding related ones. I am a environmental lawyer and consultant, but I am also a writer and a sustainability advocate. When people (employers for instance) see on my CV the Law part, they disregard anything else I am or have done and offer me jobs in the legal team. It’s quite hard sometimes to just show that I am also a good at client relations or programme management, if I am not given the chance to prove it in the first place.

    It’s a little frustrating sometimes, especially in latin cultures (I live in Italy), where people tend to identify you in a way and that idea will not easily changed…

  15. Craig Taylor says:

    Definitely feeling like the second.
    Plundering along at the moment knowing something else is on the horizon to bring something else out in me.

    Gets to a point though when I feel how many more things can I take on and learn, I know the brain has an unlimited potential to expand and take on knew knowledge and skills but being a Multipotentialite can be somewhat challenging when next to nobody else I know or come across is like me!

    When one has been an Computer Engineer, Satelite communications engineer on marine ships visiting all over the world, Marketing manager, wood working business owner, wedding photographer, graphic designer and web developer. It kind of begins to get to a point where I have all this experience and developed all of these skills, and for what? When and if I walk into a Job interview, I sound crazy rather than skilled when I rhyme off all this experience when I am only 33.

    Every time I hit the reset button and go onto something else, while it may be expanding my consciousness and skillset, Its not benefiting me financially. I stopped feeling fear, anxiety and depression some time ago but used to for years when chopping and changing between skills and workplaces/environments it would effect me greatly in the aforementioned way. Now I don’t feel these mental constructs in the way I used to so just accept what is and live in any given moment, but this doesn’t help me with achieving a better quality lifestyle and feel im just hanging about in limbo waiting for whatever is going to be the next thing to have a go at.

    If you know what I mean!!?

  16. Dermot says:

    Currently in a transition but stumbled upon an injustice, so pausing for the moment to remedy that for a social good, (thought it might take six months – two years later and a near empty bank balance – we’re nearly there) then on wards to a new venture that will hopefully replenish the bank balance :-)

    Knowing I’m not mad now (thanks Emilie – though my loving and patient wife is still skeptical) I advance with tenacity!

  17. Wai says:

    Greetings Emilie and fellow multipods,

    I am from the other side of the world and things are done quite differently here. It is a common practise to multi-task but seldom I run into any multipotentialite in the area I am working. Perhaps I have yet to look further.

    For myself, my seasons are quite short term. I can say, my seasons change once a task is done – working, thinking or even just having a cuppa tea. Perhaps it is the curiosity of learning that often kicks in, changing the thoughts and ideas in my mind. Always be inspired even though someone gets in my hair. I tend to create a little world of my own with moods and feelings. I would say, this keeps me energised and refreshed.

    Like today, I was just about to do a video editing then I saw the email from Emilie, so I paused and start reading. While I was reading I was not thinking of video editing but thinking of how to look for model making effects on the YouTube channel. Once I found what I wanted, I switch back to editorial design while thinking of the solution to edit the video. Switch, change, get the tasks done, chill out.

    Learning just never ending for me. I can’t help it, I just love it.

    I used to get stressed-out when I was younger – altogether doing too many things. I do get things done but time just keep stretching longer. As I grew older, and wiser, I learned that people just don’t have much time to be in this world. I have only lived 4 decades of my life. How many more decades, can I live? How many decades have you lived?

    Multipotentialites arise, what normal people cannot do, we can ^_^

    • I enjoy reading that you embrace the way your mind switches to multiple things before realizing you need to get back to the task at hand. What techniques help you stay focused?

  18. I’m at a weird dichotomy right now. I’m excited about a couple of new things (like starting a blog and a fun new web job) but…i’m also feeling the pull for more time to relax and more self care. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the body saying it needs more rest when you’re so into new projects. I’m starting with getting a massage this weekend and we’ll go from there!

  19. Annie says:

    I’m definitely in the “everything is new” season! It’s exciting and the creativity is flowing. The trick for me in this phase is to not get overwhelmed with all the potential possibilities and end up acting on none of them. So far, setting a few goals for each week has helped. Thank you for all your insights! It’s like you’re inside my head! :)

  20. Carley says:

    Great post – I never thought of these phases attributed to multipotentialites. I am in the MUCH needed recovery and reflection after 4.5 yrs of full tilt passion projects turned mundane of the ‘longer than expected’ actualization of bringing it to fruition. I was worried I screwed my mind up with stress so badly that I wouldn’t be able to experience this chill time again. It finally came about – the chill time – through forcing myself with baby steps. Even starting a baby steps bullet journal to acknowledge every tiny thing (read: actually honoring my hair appointment instead of feeling like if it wasn’t productive than I should feel guilty). Thank goodness the mind is elastic!

  21. Lori Fulk says:

    I work for myself, but I’m in rest and recover. I’m at the “Stumbling Blocks” portion of your book, and I can’t wait to get into this chapter, because I know I’ve tried every career style in the book! At 46, I’ve been a Critical Care RN, Neuroscience Researcher, SAHM, Writer, Event Planner, and Caterer. I’ve got 4 gigs ongoing, plus 2 volunteer gigs, but none in busy season right now. I think I need a trip (NYC next week!), which always gives me a second wind and fresh perspective. Spring and working on my roses will also do the trick.

    Godspeed Emilie. Your TED Talk changed my life. I’ve never felt so brave about who I am.

  22. Cheri Jones says:

    It really is a blessing knowing I’m not weird, I am my authentic self. It sounds as though everyone else here is too. Yahoo. Thank you for your posts that help remind me (us) of that fact. Not that I have anything against being weird because I am, but in funny, amusing ways, not the “I experiment with everything” way.
    I am currently in the first season – at the moment. Yeah! Because of my deep love for children who’ve been abused and neglected, I’m starting a children’s charity called Fostering Hope For Youth. This, I know, will be the one journey that I will stick with, of course, I will add others along the way. Life is too exciting and interesting to only have one job or hobby.
    Thank you for posts and always seeing the positive in being a multipotentialite.

  23. Mateusz says:

    Haha I didn’t even realize there is “pattern”, which explain my behaviour so well as written phases in the post. Although for me order would be more like 1,2,4,3,5 and I believe I’m currently on chapter 4,3 :)

  24. Emma says:

    I’m feeling so overwhelmed by all the things I want to learn! Some that I want to master…actually most things that I would love to master. Feeling so bogged down by all of the different things like painting, piano, learning dutch, cross stitch, knitting, biology, maths, spanish etc. etc. etc. The list is VERY long!!!

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