Well-rounded. Non-linear. Busy. Productive. Multi-faceted.
Those are all of the positive euphemisms for when people mean to say… “Someone who lacks direction due to all of the different things he or she does.”
The follow-up questions often come in the forms of “But which one will you pick?” or, “You have to narrow it down. How will you prioritize?” If you can relate, it may be because you are used to juggling multiple gigs (all at once, all the time).
You’ve probably guessed by now that I speak from experience. So, here’s a bit of my backstory with having multiple interests…
As a college student, I carried two majors (one in communications and media studies, and another in religious and theological studies), a minor in vocal music, and was enrolled in a special program that required an additional course every semester. I led retreats sponsored by our campus ministry, sung in three different choruses, served on student government, mentored three different teenage girls from a local group home, wrote for the campus newspaper, and was elected as the public relations officer for two different clubs.
Since I graduated, not much has changed. I moved to Florida for a while and worked on the Disney College Program before I eventually moved back home. I have sold insurance, earned my Master’s degree in communications (with honors), volunteered and worked at my church — both in fund-raising and in the choir, continued my vocal studies with voice lessons, worked at two separate companies in communications-related positions, joined my local Rotary club, became interested in community activism and have produced, directed, stage managed, and performed in local theatre productions — and have worked as the promotions and house manager at my home theatre.
Today, I work part-time in my family automotive business, work freelance as a social media manager for a publishing company, sell program advertisements for my home theatre, and am paid to sing at my church. I write here at TrueToast and try to land freelance writing gigs as much as I can. I’m still active in local theatre on a performance and production basis, as well as in community organizations, often working on a volunteer basis as an event promoter. I’m a notary public and am in the process of renewing my insurance license. And I fund-raise for a few pet causes.
If all that sounded like a mouthful to you, that’s because it is. And living a life filled with many gigs — and interests — isn’t by any means a perfect scenario.
That Feeling When… You Have Many Gigs at Once
If you are someone that juggles many gigs and responsibilities at once, you may be able to relate. While being productive and diverse can be fun, it also takes a great deal of work. It may also leave your friends and family thinking that you have too much on your plate. When you have too many gigs…
People assume that you have no direction.
While other people’s opinions of who you are and what you do shouldn’t matter to your present, or your future, in the slightest, having to explain over and over again to your relatives who just don’t understand becomes grating. It grows discouraging, and it can allow self-doubt to kick in when you least expect it — especially if you aren’t on high alert for it to show up and in turn, dismiss it.
Keeping track of your income takes work.
Your friends talk about that one paycheck that is dumped into their respective checking accounts via the magic of direct deposit. As an entrepreneur, or a freelancer, you aren’t afforded that same magic. You wait in anticipation for that paycheck to show up in the mail, and then you wait for the next paycheck from that other gig that you did at some point but you can’t remember exactly when…….
Sometimes, you don’t work for pay.
Yes, volunteering — especially when it’s for a cause that’s near and dear to you — is entirely rewarding. And any work, including pro bono work, looks great on a resume. You get to expand your skills either as an entrepreneur or a freelancer. But, sometimes, the thoughts of “Did I just spend two hours on that promotion to NOT get paid?!” are difficult to avoid.
You don’t always know how to describe just what it is you do.
“I’m a clerical writing social media-promoting church singer” can make the masses scratch their collective heads.
You’re tired of hearing just how much you need to prioritize.
Again, as with the public assumption that you have no direction, it truly doesn’t matter what anyone thinks as long as you’re happy. But, the word “prioritize,” when it comes out of the mouth of someone who doesn’t live your life, makes your skin crawl. Hearing it only pushes you to prove to the world just how much you can, indeed, do it all… and you don’t need to “prioritize.” Because, everything’s your priority.
But, all of that non-prioritizing can be stressful.
You work off-hours, meaning you’re home on weeknights finishing a job, or you’re spending the weekend just planning your week ahead. There’s no getting around the fact that while you can do it all, “all” is also “a lot”. And you still have to attend to the day-to-day business of adulting, too.
The Positives of Having ‘Too Many Gigs’
However, even with all of the critics and the stress, the positives to having a large wheelhouse, filled with many skills, and interests, and gigs, far outweigh the negatives.
Many interests keep life interesting.
I can attest to the fact that I’m rarely bored and I’m easily bored at the same time… if that makes sense. If I’m not pouring my energy into one of my gigs/interests, I’m bored almost instantaneously.
Your resume is complicated, but impressive… and useful.
While employers look for potential employees who fit the criteria of a particular job, they are also easily intrigued by a diverse skill set. In an entrepreneurial situation, you get to apply a multitude of skills to your own business. You may not know beforehand just how you’d utilize that notary public certification in your business, but once it comes in handy in that situation that you didn’t plan for, you and your business will both be the better for it.
You’ll never run out of topics to talk about in any situation.
Whether you’re at a family dinner, socializing with your friend group, or are attending a networking event, someone you’re conversing with is bound to be interested in one of the 12 things you’re interested in. You never know what could happen as a result of a simple conversation of shared knowledge.
You learn not to prioritize, but to organize.
To-do lists and calendars are essential to your existence, and to your mental health — with so many metaphorical filing cabinets inside your head, it’s imperative that you take your tasks out of your head and on to paper — or your phone, if that’s what you prefer. It’s very easy to confuse emails, contacts, and even tasks, when you are operating with many different groups of people as well as different objectives and goals. You learn quickly just how much you need to stay on top of it all to have it all and do it all.
It’s easy for you to help others.
When you are so versatile that you have expertise across multiple areas, you’ll inevitably become the go-to person, both in your professional as well as in your personal life. There’s no getting around the fact that helping others feels good.
And, you become the living embodiment of the old adage that ‘Busy people get things done’.
While it’s important that you stay on the lookout for burnout, and that you take care of yourself, you become dependable because you’ve learned to manage so many tasks and thoughts and skills and interests and gigs. Somehow, some way, you get it done.
Got Gigs? Not a Problem
So, how will your many interests and current gigs help you in your entrepreneurial quest?
You have an independent spirit. You’re self-motivated, helpful and organized. You’re charismatic and ambitious. And you need all of those qualities to succeed as an entrepreneur — or, in any gig-type or freelance position.
Do you have varied interests or many gigs? How will you utilize your vast skill set in your entrepreneurial endeavors? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!