It took me some time to be sure I was not going through some temporary crisis but that I actually needed the change. When you talk about your doubts to your friends and family it is hard to get some positive response: you have a good career, sometimes even great, a stable life, a promising future and you will potentially never encounter any major financial problems.
So it is hard to give voice to your needs, to your questions, because no one takes them seriously. “OK, right now you are fed up with your work, take some holidays then and come back fresh” or “Do not act on impulse, your life is great, you have a good job, why would you leave all of that for some uncertain business project?“. Even when, like myself, you come from a family of artists, that could actually get you. Seeing the only person with a stable job getting all emotional and wanting to quit a good career feels like a waste of studies and of skills.
Except it is not a phase, except I cannot feel happy in my life because I spend 8 hours per day doing something that bores me. And wherever I go the feeling comes back eventually. Except nothing is wasted and all I have learned and done will be used for a better purpose eventually.
Finally after a while I started meeting people like me. That get me! Where were you when I needed someone to tell me I wasn’t being ridiculous? Now, after a year of questioning, of anxiety, things start falling into place.
Being a multipotentialite
Lately I have met people that have quit their perfect jobs after 10 years to build their startup in a totally different field, people that have enjoyed a very well paid job abroad for years that could not take it anymore and took a break from working to find themselves, people that are living their dream by creating startups and selling them to build new ones. I had never noticed these people before, or maybe had never acknowledged what they were doing. At first I was so impressed and scared of the work I have ahead because I am clearly not there yet, I am still trying to figure out what my journey is going to be, how am I going to change my life. But the journey has started and although it took me some time to get where I am, I finally accepted that there are as many paths and careers as there are humans. Comparing is useless, just keep being inspired by the people around.
This touching TEDx video finds the words to explain what many people feel, trying to escape from a society that has encouraged specialization for so long (“what do you want to be when you grow up?” being the key phrase).
Emilie Wapnick speaks about a category of people that has not had a place in this society lately, the people that cannot keep interest in jobs if they do not change it frequently, people that want to see everything, that have too many interests and do not want to specialize. They start a new job, dive in, get pretty good at it and then…get bored and need a new interest. It is hard in this society to find a job they can fit in forever and this causes anxiety. “What am I gonna do with my life? what is my call, why I cannot find it? Why being so many things at once is not good?” It is, actually, and she calls it being “multipotentialite”. Being like this comes with 3 main skills you should be proud of and that will help you:
- Idea synthesis: innovation often comes from bringing ideas from different fields and making something new at the intersection. When you have had many jobs, many interests, ideas can spring from all you have learned in the past.
- Rapid learning: with all your experience you are rarely starting from scratch and you are used to be efficient in a new position fast. Whatever it may seem, it is rarely a waste of time pursing something you are drawn to, even if you end up quitting, you might apply that knowledge in a different field in a way you could not have anticipated.
- Adaptability: the power to morph in whatever you need to be in a given situation. With this always changing society it is an essential skill.
This post does not aim to incense multipotentialites, just reassure them, there is a place for them too. In fact, whichever you are, specialist or a multipotentialite, embrace it, be true to your inner wiring. It is the only way to live a happier and more authentic life.
How to escape the 9 to 5 job:
Once I decided that escaping the 9 to 5 job was an option I needed some guide, not just ideas. Two books have been life changing for me this last year and have made me realize that I had options if I was ready for potentially a long and at times difficult path. Difficult because it is not all laid down in front of you and because people will not always support your choice and will try to push you to a safe career.
- The first book, a classic, is the The 4 Hour Work Week, by he now very famous Tim Ferris (audio summary also available on BLinkist App).
This book has been the bible of many self made entrepreneurs for years, and basically explains step by step how to become a millionaire and retire wherever you want while working from your laptop only a few hours a week. All gets down to delegation and automatize any business you create so it survives without your supervision.
The first 50 pages are available on the 4 Hour Work Week blog (Part 1 & Part 2) as well as many useful articles published every week.
It was a great first book to read but clearly made for entrepreneurial people, who already have a strong knowledge or potential for business development. I do not. I am creative, I am pragmatical, but I am definitely not good at making a highly profitable business. I just need to live a life that better suits me.
- And then I learned about the book that was made for me. Be a Free Range Human is just the answer I was looking for. It is for people who are looking to building a different life, but have no particular ideas, just skills that they do not know how to use.
“If you’re one of the many people who would love to ditch their job, break free from the daily grind and live the dream of freedom, fulfillment and financial independence, this is the book for you. Be a Free Range Human is a breezy, energizing and above all practical guide to making the break and creating the life you want. You don’t need piles of funding or a business plan, an expensive logo or an MBA. You don’t need to be either a millionaire entrepreneur or a skint freelancer. Marianne Cantwell shows you a third way, a way that is all about building not just a business but a fabulous lifestyle that fits with who you are and what you really want to do. “
Instead of building a successful business that brings you millions while living on a rent for the rest of your life (like the 4 Hours Work Week suggests) this book helps you understand your personality, your skills, and leads you to understanding and then acting on what you want. This is the most inspiring book I have read in years and since then I have just been thinking about many business ideas. Biggest intake: if you have many ideas, just try them out, but do not spend more then 100$ on them and do not get further until you make your money back. It is a book for small players, that is true, but not everybody wants to be at the head of a million dollar empire: I just want to be fulfilled in my everyday life. I want to keep creating and find inspiration in my job.
Since I read it I have been so creative, always thinking about new businesses, getting in touch with so many different people. Nothing is done yet but it gives me so much energy it is a breath of fresh air that I recommend to anyone who recognizes himse;f or herself as a multipotentialite.
The 100 dollars startup, by Chris Guillebeau (audio summary also available on Blinkist App).