Monday, November 16, 2015 Gabby Bill 0 Comments

When I was 5 years old, my mom enrolled me in tennis camp for the summer. Even though I got my two front teeth knocked out on day one (I was too busy staring into the sky, day-dreaming when the instructor served me the ball), I loved it. The next summer, I went to computer camp, and the year after it was art camp. During the school year, I enjoyed doing my homework, took dance lessons, had a part in every school play and asked my mom if I could enroll in gymnastics and horseback riding (she said no to those). In my spare time, I wrote books and drew all the illustrations, and I loved helping my mom in the kitchen on the rare occasions that we'd bake or make a home-cooked meal. No matter what my mom threw at me - roller blading, bike riding, attending baseball games, craft projects - I pretty much loved it all. It got to the point where she'd jokingly tell her friends that she thought she could stick me in a pile of mud and I'd have a grand old time.

Fast forward to adult life, and perhaps unsurprisingly, this behavior has followed me. I still love trying new things and very rarely stumble upon an activity or event I dislike (I have found one exception to this rule and that is camping - sleeping in a tent with bugs and bears...no thank you).

But as much as this makes me a fun person to be around, this passion for many things has turned out to be tricky when it comes to my career.

When I was 14 years old, I started my own online magazine on AOL and ran it for four years as editor-in-chief. I loved doing it, so I decided to major in journalism in college. But by junior year, I was bored. I felt like I had "mastered" journalism (clearly I hadn't, but that's how I felt), and I was ready for a new challenge. So I added a business minor and when I graduated, I got a job in public relations, a tangentially related field. That was fun...for a little while...but I got bored then, too. Cue grad school.

I've established a pattern in my life and career so far where I choose a subject I'm incredibly interested in, dive SO deep and immerse myself in it, and then at some undefined point (a year, five years?) later, get completely bored with the subject and start searching for some new challenge to tackle.

I remember a conversation I had with my former boss and mentor, Bryan - there's going to be a whole post about him soon, as he is the epitome of a great boss - where I told him I was worried that my resume was going to start looking scattered. If I kept up this pattern of changing careers every three years, were employers going to start viewing me negatively? Bryan wasn't so sure I had established a pattern yet, but he did agree that it might look fishy if I continued to jump around.

I thought I was broken. I thought I was confused about what I really wanted. Or that I was indecisive. I told myself a host of negative things and wondered how others could be so sure about the one thing they wanted to do with their life.

It was only a few months ago that I really started challenging this thinking and wondering why it was that we are expected to find just one thing we're passionate about and pursue it with rigor for the entirety of our lives. And then yesterday my friend Allison shared this amazing TED talk with me that had me nodding my head and smiling for nearly a full 12 minutes. Give it a watch:

"I'VE FOUND MY PEOPLE," I screamed inside my head. "I'M A MULTIPOTENTIALITE!"

How freeing to know we're a "we," not a "me." That there's truth to the statement that you don't have to choose one, narrow course for your career if that's not what works for you. How freeing to realize that this behavior is not only normal, but pretty darn valuable for the perspectives and breadth people with diverse interests can bring to a work situation.

The lesson here goes back to something I said in my first post: that I had spent too much of my career thus far following the path I thought I should be on. Societal cues always told me I had to pick one thing for my career, and I felt pressure to conform. But the truth is that I can build my career in whatever fashion works for me, fulfills me and continually inspires me.

This doesn't mean I may not have my work cut out for me if it comes to explaining this behavior to an employer. That said, it's common knowledge today that the "spray and pray" resume method isn't very effective, so if I'm going to get my job through networking anyway, I feel confident that a good elevator pitch can help me explain my multipotentialite-isms. Hey, if Madonna can reinvent herself every five years, can't we all?

What do you think about the concept of a multipotentialite? Does that resonate with you, or are you more of a specialist? What are you most passionate about when it comes to your career?

Gabrielle "Gabby" Bill is a career coach and consultant who believes everyone should be working in a job that leaves them feeling fulfilled. She coaches groups and individuals through a reflection process, uncovering often hidden motivations, values, goals and skills as they relate to their career. These reflections are then parlayed into concrete action plans to guide clients through the process of finding, creating and landing their dream jobs. You can learn more about her services by visiting www.gabriellebill.com