Having and following one true passion in life still seems to be the ideal. However, more people than ever are realising that not everyone fits the mold. Many – myself included – are so-called scanners or multi-passionates, and we have a lot of different things we’re enthusiastic about.
The challenge seems to be how to juggle them all. Life is stressful as it is – how can you possibly fit in all your passions? And what should you do for a living?
Your mission today is to learn how you can deal with multiple passions.
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Task 1: Find the common thread
At first glance, your passions might look like they’re completely unrelated. Mine include literature, dancing, traditional archery, music, nature and earth-based spirituality, historical swordfighting, piano, people and communication. Uff!
To start making heads and tails of it all, write down all your passions, or as many as you can think of. Then try to find common threads and group them accordingly. For example, one of my passion groups is music, dancing, and the piano. Play detective and find common themes.
Task 2: Deal with multiple passions in life and work
First of all, you will have heard me say that there’s no need to turn your passion into your source of income. However, it’s nice to work on something that’s meaningful to you.
Therefore, look at your “common themes” and find work that matches one of these themes. For example, with my love for people and communication, I used to work in customer service. I loved it and was good at it, because my customers felt I truly cared about them.
For your personal time, pick two or a maximum of three passions to focus on at any one time. It doesn’t mean the others are no longer important, it only means that for now, you’ll focus on whatever “buzzes” most for you. In a few months, you can review and if necessary, change what you focus on.
This keeps you sane and makes it all the more satisfying to do the things that light you up.
I used to have a habit of working on my business and then getting sidetracked by some series or other on Netflix. If it was about something I’m interested in, I justified it by saying I was just pursuing my passion. And then I spent every free minute watching episodes and hardly worked on my business at all.
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The active/passive nature of passions
You see, a lot of passions have an active and a passive side. For examples, if you’re a writer you need to read a lot of books, but you also need to get practice writing – a lot. If you’re a painter, you need to look at others’ art but also produce your own.
All of this takes time. The problem especially with multipassionates is that they’re likely to be passionate about at least two or three of these, resulting in a passive-consumption fest like my own Netflix sprees.
The power of focus
Yes, you can honour your multiple passions but you also need to focus. It’s just too easy to get sidetracked, and ten times easier for a multipassionate.
This process is the remedy:
- Pick two or three passions at a time, to focus on.
- Breathe – it doesn’t mean your other passions are off the table, just temporarily on hold.
- Make sure to keep a balance between active and passive work on your passions.
- Keep distractions at a minimum (such as your Netflix subscription or Social Media).
You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done! None of this is set in stone, by the way – you can review and revise at any time, which passions to focus on.
When I studied for my Coaching diploma, my class was asked to do a rather unusual “homework”. We were to ask ten of our friends what they saw as our best quality. The result was revealing: Seven out of my ten named my enthusiasm and ability to feel passionately about things.
While this is certainly a nice trait, it has its drawbacks, too. One of them is that being enthusiastic about everything also means that it’s really difficult to find time for all my passions. If you happen to be multi-passionate too, I’m sure you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – a lot of the time you feel like you’ll never be able to master anything, because your attention is always scattered.
If you’ve been reading Monday Sparkles for a while, you’ll know some of the approaches I favour when dealing with multiple passions. One of them is to focus on just a few of them at a time, to avoid overwhelm. The same really goes for any types of decisions you might have to make, where you agonise over your options and have no idea which one to pick.
How about a simple litmus test to check any options against, that’ll make most decisions instantly crystal-clear? Sound good? I thought so.
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Who are you on the deepest level?
We are all products of our environment to an extent, of our upbringing, education, and the influence of our peers, among other factors. It’s not always easy to look beyond all of these and discover our true inner selves. So much of what we do is determined by our beliefs, which can change over the years.
However, there are some aspects of ourselves which don’t change. They make up the core of each person’s being, the invariable essence of their character. These are our values.
Values are unique to each person and there are literally hundreds of them. To get you started, I’ve found a handy list for you on the internet. Here’s how you use it:
Scan the list and mark down or circle (if you’ve printed it; otherwise, write it down) any values that jump out to you, any you can relate to. Once you’ve got your shortlist, go through it again and eliminate any that seem less important than the others. It doesn’t mean they aren’t your values, it just means they aren’t as near to the top.
Feel free to add values that aren’t on the list, but are important to you. Keep eliminating and narrowing them down until you’re left with your five top values.
From values to decisions
Once you’ve got your values, look over them one more time and think of what each of these mean to you in your life. If you’ve done this exercise from the heart and your intuition, you’ve now got a highly accurate list of values which represent who you truly are (and if you haven’t, you can always do it over).
I suggest you keep this list, because it’s a very handy “barometer” to keep close whenever you need to make decisions, or indeed when you feel stressed or pressurised and in danger of losing yourself in other people’s demands.
The test is very easy. Say you have about six different passions you’d love to pursue. Check each of them against your core values. Which one is aligned with the highest number of values, or is aligned most closely? Take your pick from those and focus on two or three passions at this time. You can always come back to the others whenever you have spare time or feel like a change.
Any decision can be made using this test, but its uses are more far-reaching than this. Basically, your entire life should be an expression of yourself and therefore, of your core values. If you find yourself very unhappy in a job, check your values. You may find that the work you do has nothing whatsoever of your values in it, or worse, that it goes against one of your values altogether. These are huge red flags and a sign that you may want to rethink your career.
True to yourself
Personal happiness is of course a very subjective feeling, but a large part of it is that we like ourselves and what we do. The more radically you align your life with your values, the higher are the chances that you’ll feel happy with yourself.
Try it! It’s a wonderfully direct way to eliminate the noise around every decision and action, and focus on what truly matters.