How to succeed as a multi-passionate creative

cwc_2016-01-21_georgia-phase_insta-graphic_template By Bec Mackey

Do you find yourself pulled in different directions by your work and your creative projects? Are you easily distracted by a new idea or flash of inspiration, only to abandon it again shortly afterwards? Or maybe you’re trying to juggle working and paying the bills with a creative side project, and finding it hard to manage both at the same time. You may beat yourself up for being fickle, unable to commit, or to make a clear decision. But despite what we’re told by society, not everyone is built to have just one linear career path, and being easily distracted isn’t necessarily a bad sign. If any of the above resonates with you, it may just be that you are multi-passionate.

Being multi-passionate is a gift, so embrace it! There are many people out there who would kill to have your energy, curiosity and ability to see inspiration everywhere. Multi-passionate people can draw connections where others see nothing, and this is a highly valuable skill, particularly if you work in a creative industry – or would like to.

However, having so many interests and ideas can feel like a burden at times, and indecision about which path to take and what to focus on can contribute to a lack of confidence. It may seem like all external messages are telling you to commit and let go of all of your competing ideas – to settle down and choose your niche. If you don’t have just one job, title or simple elevator pitch to sum up what you do, its easy to feel isolated.

Multi-passionate people are almost always highly sensitive and very creative. This sensitivity, although an incredibly valuable trait for artists, communicators and business owners, means you probably pick up on a lot things, both negative and positive, that others don’t. If others have judged you for being changeable, or all your friends and family have solid careers and can’t understand your various interests, you may have taken this to heart and let it stop you from embracing your multi-passionate nature. This can lead to confusion, lack of motivation, and sometimes paralysis about which path to take next.

Here are some tips to help you move forward and thrive as a multi-passionate creative:

  • Let go of the need to define yourself by one job title or career path. It may seem that this is a cultural expectation, and that many people you know define themselves by their job title. But if you’re multi-passionate, it won’t help to try and fit yourself into just one defined category. Be true to yourself – own your diverse skill set and know that there is a place for you too.
  • Find a tribe of like-minded multi-passionates. Look out for other people who value curiosity and exploration in their career, and are interested in many different areas. It can stimulate your energy levels to be surrounded by others who get excited about new ideas and have a range of projects on the go. And when things get challenging, you’ll have friends and colleagues around that understand where you’re coming from and can support you without judging your hybrid career. You might even discover someone wonderful to partner up with – multi-passionates are great collaborators!
  • Read about the profound things multi-passionate people (sometimes referred to as polymaths) have done through the ages. Having a defined, specific ‘thing’ to do for work is a relatively modern phenomenon. Even in more recent times, the revolutionary multi-passionates are there if you look for them. Maya Angelou is a fantastic example of a polymath who defied categorisation in her work. She may be most famous for her poetry, but she was also an accomplished dancer, journalist, editor, teacher and activist (who worked for Martin Luther King, no less!).
  • Define your overall ‘why’ and then you will have a long term vision that will help with direction and focus. Watch Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk ‘Start With Why’ and complete a simple ‘why’ exercise for yourself. Focus on what motivates you in life generally, rather than worrying about defining your why for multiple projects or business ideas. Discovering what motivates you and what is important to you will provide you with a compass of sorts, and help you understand yourself better.
  • Resist the urge to do everything at once. Get good at time management or find help from a coach or course to enhance your skills in that area. You’ll feel better once you are taking small steps, even if its simultaneously in a couple of directions.
  • Don’t give in to the paralysis that can come with having too many ideas. Choose one of your most dominant ideas– one that hasn’t gone away for a long time, or one of the most viable, and run with it. The upside to this is once you start to see progress, your confidence will increase and you can get out there and impact the world as only a vibrant, multi-passionate person can!

Bec Mackey is a writer, teacher and producer of screen-related things. She uses a decade of experience in the business sides of media and arts to help creative people fund and promote their work in ways that work for them. Bec writes about funding, promotion, creative careers and life on her website, Brightside Creatives.