Why Abandoned Interests are Never a Waste of Time
Photo courtesy of Alex.

Why Abandoned Interests are Never a Waste of Time

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

You’ve been studying a subject for a while now and you’re getting kind of bored with it. What do you do? If you’re a multipotentialite, the chances are that you toss it aside, so you can sink your teeth into something new. Something more exciting.

Plenty of us have dropped interests without a second thought when we’ve decided that we’ve had enough. Of course, this tends to be easier to do when it’s a hobby or evening class, but it’s not that unusual for us to switch between college courses and degree majors either.

When we do this, we sometimes feel a bit guilty. We feel as though we’ve wasted all that time. But can learning ever truly be a waste of our time? Lots of the interests we think we’ve abandoned come back into focus at some point. The exciting thing is that you’re never quite sure where, when, or how that interest or skill might be revived.

Lori started a great post in the Puttytribe about how she’d invested loads of time in building a website business, only to abandon it all and move onto something new a few months ago. Now she’s been approached by a company that’s looking to have its online presence overhauled, and all that knowledge is coming back into play.

I had a similar experience recently when I was approached by a company to do some re-branding for them. It’s a while since I focused on graphic design, so I’m really looking forward to dusting off my design skills and getting back into the swing of it.

5 Reasons Not to Feel Guilty about Dropping an Interest

1) You need to feed your hunger for learning

We all need to feed our multipotentialite hungers for learning. Every project or subject we spend time on helps to satisfy that hunger. It doesn’t matter if we don’t continue to pursue that interest after we’ve sucked it dry of what attracted us to it in the first place. We are multipotentialites, not specialists. We will always move on to learn about something else.

2) You develop genuinely transferable skills

I’m not just talking about the transferable skills you write about on your resume. Learning about a topic and then moving on enables you to develop real abilities and to take those skills with you into whatever you do next. Having such a diverse range of interests enables you to develop an amazing toolbox of skills to draw upon in future projects.

3) You develop an ability to make connections that no one else sees

All that learning and cross-discipline research means you can truly see how seemingly disparate ideas are connected. Other people don’t have that breadth of knowledge, so they’re unable to see the links between such different subject areas.

This is what makes your unique skill set so invaluable both to you and to anyone you’re working with. Your skill set really is likely to be completely unique too, as it would be near impossible to find two multipotentialites with the exact same range of interests!

4) By learning, you learn to learn

If you imagine that your brain is like a muscle, you’ll see that, the more you exercise it, the stronger and more agile it will become. The more you learn, the better you’ll get at learning. We have an infinite capacity to learn. It’s not as though one day we reach our quota and everything that goes in has to push something else out to make room!

5) You never lose your learning

While your knowledge and skills may become a little rusty, it’s far easier to refresh your memory than it is to learn something from scratch. Learning is like an investment that you can use over and over again. Learning is a real investment in yourself.

Abandoned interests are never a waste of time. They’re just new links in an ever-growing chain.

Over to you!

Do you worry about abandoning interests? Do you ever feel like you’ve wasted your time?

bevBev is an artist, creativity coach and founder of Kickass Creatives, a website offering practical support to frustrated creatives. She’s over 20 years of working in the arts: experimenting with everything from performing in a fire circus and managing a hiphop dance company, through to web consultancy and jewellery design. Bev is passionate about using her experience to enable others to fully develop (rather than hide) their multitude of talents too. Connect with her on Twitter @creativekickass.

5 Comments

  1. Jan Koch says:

    That’s SO me Bev!
    I’m running my own online business and I’m switching focus between projects all to often.
    While I have my web design work as foundation to pay the bills, I’m building other products and services around it. Most of them don’t grow as much as I’d like them to, but at least I’m growing my skillset with every new idea.

    In 2015 I’m going to say “No” more often however. I want to focus on one project for 3 months, to give it time to grow. I had that goal in 2014 already, yet I miserably failed.

    We’ll see how that goes for 2015!

    Best,
    Jan

  2. Bev Webb says:

    Hey Jan
    I wonder if we ever grow many of our projects as much as we’d like to. It’s the multipotentialite way – have loads of ideas on the go and then move on to something entirely new!

    Good luck with your plan in 2015 – let us know how you get on. :)

    • Jan Koch says:

      I think we will never grow as many projects as we like. We can’t keep track of all of them. I’m using a list to track all the project ideas I have, so that I know I’m only rescheduling my ideas, not abandoning them forever :)

      Will keep you posted, have a great weekend!

  3. Emma says:

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Last year I spent 6 months learning web design and front-end development.I told everyone that I was going to be a web designer and I even created a few sites for friends. Then I did the usual multipod thing and moved onto something else, accompanied by plenty of eye rolling, “here we go again” looks from family members.

    Anyway, I recently landed a writing gig for a business website and my client was blown away when I asked him if he wanted me to add html mark-up to the articles I was writing. He was even more impressed when I offered to add the content to the website for him (at that point I probably should have raised my price but hey-ho). So it just goes to prove that learning new skills, even if you choose not to use them straight away, is never a waste of time.

  4. Mini says:

    I think other multipod readers will understand this..

    I spent quite a lot of time about 7 or 8 years ago trying to learn Mandarin Chinese. There was no real reason for it other than that I was fascinated by the language, and especially the characters. After a while though I gave up on it (due to a combination of frustration at feeling I wasn’t getting very far, and the usual multipotentialite thing of being attracted to other interests :).

    But about a week or two ago, I got an overwhelming urge to start learning Chinese again (for no apparent reason of course ;) So I downloaded a fantastic free app, and bought a book about Chinese characters. And I have been absolutely amazed by how much of it has come back to me, and how much I now remember after just a week or so of revision. I still don’t feel as though I know much overall, but I don’t think it will take me long to get back to where I was when I left off all those years ago, and I can build from there. It definitely wasn’t a wasted effort.

    I guess the point of this is that it’s a great example of where abandoned interests might not be a waste of time at all.. you never know when you’ll come back to them.

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