Multipotentiality is not just for the young. Indeed many of us don’t realize we’re multipotentialites until we’re in our forties, fifties, sixties, or even older than that.
Talk to a multipotentialite over the age of forty and you’re likely to sense a little bit of regret at not learning sooner that having multiple interests and career paths is both possible and a legitimate option.
Don’t get me wrong – busting the myth that you’re just a fickle Jack of all trades comes as a relief – but, for us older multipotentialites, it can feel like we’re playing catch-up as we try to put our habit of hiding our pluralistic tendencies behind us.
It can take quite a while before we feel comfortable answering the question, “So what do you do?” because, over the years, we’ve become so accustomed to using simple one-liners which play down our true selves.
Being an older multipotentialite brings with it a unique set of challenges
Life choices that seem easy when you’re a single twenty-something are a whole different ball game when you have a family and financial commitments.
Think back to your younger self and how the majority of your plans were future-focused. When we’re young, our emphasis is on moving quickly into the future, so we can get to our end goals faster. You may recall being barely able to contain your anticipation at being old enough to learn to drive, vote, drink alcohol, move out of your parents’ home, or go to university.
However, as our thirties and forties loom into view and we begin to see life rushing past us at an ever increasing speed, we focus less and less on far off goals. We want time to slow down, not speed up.
Worries creep in about whether we’ll have enough time in our lives to do all the things we’ve always wanted to do. We fear having to start again from scratch. We worry that our new plans will be dismissed by those around us as a midlife crisis.
We start to fear our age and worry that we’re too old to start afresh. It can feel like a cruel twist of fate that as soon as we finally find our multipotentialite identity, it feels too late to do much with it.
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination
When I was at university, I noticed a real difference between what motivated the teenage students and what motivated the mature adult learners. Most of the young students were taking their degrees to improve their future career prospects. Gaining the qualification was just the gateway to the start of their career.
However, for many of the mature students, studying itself was the experience they were looking for. It was the journey through university, rather than the certificate at the end of the course, which they valued most. This was especially true for some of the lifelong learners in their sixties and seventies who had no intention of ever using their degree for career purposes.
Ask yourself what experience you’re looking for
If you’re unsure whether you want to completely change your career or just branch out from your current situation, ask yourself what experience you’re really after.
It can be easy to think of this as an all or nothing decision with the only two options as staying in your current career and quitting completely. But there are plenty of ways to build on what you’ve already achieved and to gain new experiences which fit around your existing commitments. You could start a business on the side, freelance, or volunteer on projects which interest you.
Use your age to your advantage
If you decide to change direction, instead of seeing yourself as starting from scratch, acknowledge the wealth of knowledge and resources you’ve already collected which you can put to good use. Consider all the experiences you’ve gained, the transferable skills you’ve developed, and the networks you’ve formed.
If you think about all the contacts you’ve made over the years, you may already know people who could provide invaluable support to help you with your plans. They might be able to provide advice, offer mentoring support, or introduce you to people who may otherwise be hard to reach.
Adapting to a pluralist lifestyle requires a slightly different approach when you’re over the age of forty but it is completely possible. I’d be really interested in hearing how you’ve made the transition and tackled the age-specific challenges of being a multipotentialite.
What age were you when you discovered you were a multipotentialite? Do older multipotentialites face different challenges? What has been the hardest obstacle for you to overcome?