Feel like you're being pulled in a million different directions? Here's what to do when you have more than one passion:

Truth be told, linear career paths are fast becoming a thing of the past. Seven is the popular number that’s been thrown around.

Seven, as in the number of careers the average U.S. worker will have in their lifetime. Does that seem crazy to you? Sure, the number may seem a bit outrageous, but there are indications that lately people aren’t content to stick with just one career anymore.

What you might not have realized is that amongst this current workforce of career changers and job hoppers are growing numbers of multipotentialites.

Multipotentiality can be defined as the state of having many talents or interests, all of which could lead to a satisfying career for that person. Also known as polymaths or multipassionates, they are the ones that don’t really have “one true calling.  Instead, they have a variety of things that have caught their interest over the years they’re interested in exploring further.

Sound familiar? It’s more common than you’d think!

Sometimes those interests may have nothing to do with one another. For example, one woman I know works as a pharmacist and does voice acting on the side.  It works for her — both fields were ones that she was genuinely interested in and the seeming disconnect between the two certainly makes for a great conversation starter!

While the education institutions prevail upon us with calls of “specialize, specialize,” multipotentialites will go against the grain.  They don’t want to specialize, they will say. There’s so much out there that we still want to learn.

Those that do specialize will eventually end up switching fields once they’ve feel that their current field is no longer providing the mental nourishment they need.

In fact, my classmates’ backgrounds range from law to investment banking to software engineering (although unsurprisingly a large chunk of us are stereotypical biology majors). We also have some older students — one is a former journalist with one of the major TV channels, and another was a finance professor in his previous job. All of these people with their unique backgrounds made the choice to return to school to pursue a new career — in this case, medicine (like me).

The Types of Multipassionates

It’s true that they all had different motivations for changing careers, but what this points out is that even if you feel like you’ve chosen the wrong major in college and entered the wrong field — it’s not forever.

(Remember: It’s never too late to make the choice to change careers. It’s never too late to find purpose in your career.)

They belong to the first type of multipassionate — those that take on different careers or work on different interests one after the other.

One well-known example is Richard Branson. His company started off with Virgin Records, but what soon followed were companies across a range of different fields: Virgin Atlantic (airline), Virgin Mobile (telecommunications) and Virgin Galactic (space travel).

Then there is another type: those that prefer to have multiple different projects going on at once.

These are the people that always appear super well-rounded. I’m sure we all know someone who fits those criteria. In high school, they were student council vice-president, captain of the volleyball team, working part-time at the mall while volunteering at the local hospital — in addition to being an academic all-star. They then proceed to continue all these achievements throughout university, but they too, eventually decide to specialize.

Others will figure out ways to combine all their interests together.

Steve Kamb combined his love of video games, movies, and other things that “nerds” enjoy with fitness — and what eventually resulted was Nerd Fitness.

A not insignificant number of multipassionates are becoming entrepreneurs. Often when you are a sole entrepreneurship, you have to become good at everything — or at least be capable at a large range of tasks.

Besides the actual product or service you’re selling, there’s also marketing, accounting, managing, website development, and all the little things that may seem unimportant in the first place.  There’s only so much you can outsource before it becomes unprofitable.

So how do you know if you’re a multipotentialite?

Here are a few signs you may want to pay attention to:

  • You might have a whole list of things you want to learn or have a bunch of hobbies that you alternate between.
  • You feel that you often become bored after you’ve mastered an area or don’t feel the need to specialize past a certain point.
  • The things that you do enjoy might have no relation to another.
  • You love learning new things (note: learning doesn’t always mean sitting through exams and getting diplomas!)

If any of that sounds like you, then congrats, you are a multipotentialite!  Don’t squander this gift and I would encourage you to give all your passions some time in the sun.

P.S. If you’re struggling to narrow down your passions and find the purpose in your career, we’re working on an ecourse just for you! Find more right here.


Discussion: Do you have more than one passion? Which type of multipotentialite are you?