This is a phrase I read somewhere last year. Multi-passionate. And it stuck with me. Like glue. So let me explain what being multi-passionate is, and then how to manage it. It may help you too.
You see, I have always felt like I am too much. Or rather, I feel too much. Too passionate about… well, everything. Almost everything.
Not cricket. I don’t like that sport.
But almost everything else, I am passionate about. (And when it was explained to me, I can even see how people would get interested and passionate about cricket…)
Which means that I get excited about lots. And it can be quite tiring, but mostly I feel tired when people assume I cannot do it.
I mean how can I really be so interested in all these things?
By being multi-passionate.
I have a ton of interests. Yeah, I get bored easily, but I also get really inspired by all the amazing things that are going on around us in the world.
Ok, so this is sounding like a way to simply put a positive spin on being into lots of different things.
But why is that an issue?
We have developed our education so that the person who can tell you in minute detail about the wings of a certain type of butterfly that only eats when it is a full moon and lives in a particular tree in the Amazon is the top of the system.
Now I have no problem with people specialising in their field. I love that people focus and dig in deep to discover all there is to find. Not least when they are researching for cures to cancer or things like that.
I guess I just don’t think that all of us have to do that. And I’m not less intelligent if I don’t focus on one topic. (Ok, maybe I have a chip on my shoulder about that!)
But I enjoy talking to people about all sorts of things and I find it fascinating to hear about what they do, and what they work on. And no, it’s not that people are my focus 🙂
I have studied various things in my life. I have started businesses and tried different careers. I have also done a number of crafts and cooking. I love Pinterest and Youtube. If I had had the internet growing up I may have never come out of my house to do anything else, to be honest…
So why am I talking about being multi-passionate?
Because if you are multi-passionate then you may struggle with managing it! I certainly have through the years. Not only that, but I needed to hear about it to feel like I had permission to be myself.
Our culture tends to see half-finished projects as a negative… but I generally come back to my projects much later and either finish them or re-create them.
As an example, I recently made a crocheted weighted blanket for my son. I use a variety of old clothes that were past their use-by date, and certainly past usefulness. But I also rediscovered some things I had started sewing which I used in the blanket. Most especially was a wrap dress I had started to sew for myself to use in the hospital when I gave birth to our first child… but it wasn’t quite right and didn’t fit properly around my large tummy! So it sat to the side until now, and he just turned seven. I felt bad about that for probably six years (whenever I remembered it!). And now I feel glad that I am managing my tendency towards perfectionism well enough to be kind to myself and to celebrate the fact that I start things and try them. (I also didn’t have to beat myself about it to begin with – it was super cheap fabric and I enjoyed the creating while I was waiting for our son to be born!)
But one of my passions is to re-use whatever I can and to reduce our waste. And so a blanket out of old clothes and half-finished sewing projects is perfect for another passion. As well as the fact that I wanted to try a weighted blanket for our boy to see if it helped him… but we couldn’t afford it. So I taught myself to crochet (again why I love Pinterest and Youtube!) and that has become another crafty passion…!
With so many projects on the go, it can feel overwhelming. So this is definitely a personality thing. It wouldn’t work for some people but I have a high tolerance for stuff sitting around me if it is tidy and organised.
I also want to make it clear that being multi-passionate is not the same as multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking means doing things at the same time. Multi-passionate means being passionate about lots of different things at the same time BUT NOT TRYING TO DO THEM AT THE SAME TIME.
Coz that would be the road to crazy town.
Managing being multi-passionate
These are some tricks I have found that have helped me to feel less like I am a hopeless serial project starter who never finishes things…!
Keep a list
If I have everything listed, I feel like I can follow them. I also don’t forget things that may get buried in a box somewhere. (After all, I have to store these projects out of the way so that they don’t get ruined or create havoc in our house – we still need our calm!)
Now I am not going to lie to you – this is not one orderly list like you would expect a beautiful organiser to have. I have scraps of paper. I have several journals. But they are stored in the same space. And I keep most of my old journals so that I have all these ideas and projects ready to look at again.
I tend to use one main journal at a time for ideas and go through waves of different ways of keeping these lists. It’s rare that I finish a whole journal, despite my love of not wasting things. Can you guess why?? If you guessed that it’s because I think I have found a better way to do things and start a new journal in my attempt to make a clean start, you would be right!!
But I am not going to beat myself up about that either.
I like trying new things. And it keeps a fresh feeling even when I return to my main way of doing things… which is just a new page per section. Not complicated!
I have a journal at the moment where I record my thoughts for major projects, but mostly things I want to write about. So I have pages of notes of blog posts ready to write when I get the chance to sit down and do so. Because my ideas are written down in one place I can easily get back to them and make use of the thoughts that float through my multi-passionate brain at any given moment.
And occasionally I will do the big picture planning of major life goals and thing like that… and whenever I do, I keep those papers as well. They often bring a new perspective to the same ideas which usually keep coming up.
So make lists of what you want to work on, and what you are working on. Don’t feel that you have to have it perfectly plotted out. Just make notes of it. And it will help you keep working on things that are important to you.
Focus on one thing at a time
Now, this may seem contradictory. But it isn’t. It’s smart.
When I am working on several things at once, I focus on one at a time. When I get into the flow on one, then I stick with it!
But I sometimes hit a wall or just get tired. So then I take a break from the one project and jump into doing another. That way everything keeps moving forward.
For example these school holidays I have had gardening projects on the go. I have needed to do some writing. I wanted to sort out the massive tub of file music from work that has been annoying me so we can actually find songs when we need to. We had to do the paperwork for re-fixing our mortgage on the house. I had the kids at home, which meant play dates and working around them. And this is in addition to everyday life and work.
So when the kids were happy to play outside, then I would do some gardening. I have done most of my writing in the evenings, but there have been pockets of time where they were engrossed with a screen and I got snippets done. The music was sorted slowly when the kids were settled doing some drawing or something like that or I was tired of doing anything else and wanted a zone out type job. I did the paperwork for the mortgage in between whatever else was happening. And I have made good progress on all of them or finished them in some cases.
Some moms will read this and say “this is just mothering!” and in some ways it is. But I was doing this before becoming a mom. This is my default setting.
And I want to point out again that this is not about multi-tasking. Being a mom is often about multi-tasking. A friend said to me today that her husband can’t be taking care of their one-year-old and cook dinner… so when it’s her day to work, she has to have dinner prepped in advance. And this is #momlife right?!?
But we can still have times to focus on a project or our work. And that’s when I’m talking about not multi-tasking in that moment, but concentrating on the project at hand. All while having other projects waiting in the wings for when you need to jump into something else.
Because I was also doing some of the sorting that happens in our house for the start of the year, I have had my rag rug sitting in front of me again and I am itching to get more done on that! It will replace the music sorting and paperwork done in pockets of time this following week. Well, when the kids need me to be available rather than out in the garden.
Working this way I will keep getting my projects done.
But it never feels like I am doing too much since I have a project that I can do while sitting doing very little. I have projects that I can do on sunshiney days. And I have rainy day projects. I have projects that I can do with the kids, and projects I need space without them.
There you have it!
Are you multi-passionate as well??