We’ve been called unfocused, irresponsible, flaky, Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none and a gazzillion other things, mostly negative.
Occasionally someone might call us a Renaissance person or multi-talented (usually people who are themselves multi-passionate, so they see the benefit), but in general we have a really bad rep in the world of specialization.
And the specializations are becoming ever more detailed as the technology is progressing. For example, what used to be called a “web designer” is now at least 4 different job titles: visual designer, interaction designer, UI/UX expert, and a front-end developer. None of these job titles fit me. Just imagining myself in one of these roles makes me want to puke.
In fact, I don’t even want to be a “designer”.
Or a “visual creative”.
There’s no label that can cover all the things I do, no box that I can fit into. Which is great, except we’re living in a world where people expect you to fit into a box.
Being multi-passionate makes having a regular job challenging.
The main reason why I wanted to switch to freelancing was to have more room to grow.
I wanted to build a life for myself where I feel like I’m a unified, well-rounded person, instead of being chopped up into pieces and only able to show one of them in a professional environment, and keep my “hobbies” to myself.
To be honest, this freelancing stuff ain’t easy, either.
A few days ago I felt particularly frustrated by “there’s not enough hours in the day” and I sketched a little graphic where I noted the major things that demanded my energy and attention.
I looked at this drawing and felt powerless. There’s no way I could do this. There’s no way I could pull off everything without dropping a few balls.
Then I just got the urge to draw flower petals around all the areas.
I thought: “Well, that was weird, as if making a pretty flower is going to change anything…”—but lo and behold, it actually did.
I realized when I finished painting the flower and added the yellow middle, that I’m not being pulled apart, I’m actually growing the petals.
I needed to write this down. (And yes, even though English is not my primary language, I do often think and journal in English.)
This felt really empowering.
Sure, I do need to organize my time better and keep my energy levels high enough to be able to do good work consistently. But it’s far easier to do this when I’m looking forward to doing things, then if I force myself to focus on one particular area and stash away everything else “for later”.
On a few occasions I said to myself “Now you’re going to focus on work, and after a couple of weeks of this you’ll get back to painting again”.
What actually happened was that client work dragged on for much longer than I expected, and I was feeling miserable because work that I deeply cared about was being neglected. This resulted in worse quality of my work, which did not benefit me or my client.
Only when I allow myself to have time for everything I’m excited about, is when I’m in the zone and create my best work.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but in reality when I’m happy, rested, and buzzing with creative energy that’s overflowing from my personal creative projects, client work takes much less time because my performance is better.
(I charge a per-project fee, so I’m actually getting paid more per hour if I work this way. Isn’t that awesome?)
I’m not saying I have it all figured out. Time management is always a challenge, whether you’re a specialist or a multi-passionate person.
But what would change for you if you started looking at your areas of focus as something you’re growing out of yourself, and not as something external that’s demanding your attention and pulling you apart?
What would this mean for your life, your planning and your to-do list?
P.S. Want more on this topic? Read my post Job titles are overrated: My life as a Jane-of-all-trades
About Nela Dunato
Artist, brand designer, teacher, and writer. Author of the book “The Human Centered Brand”. Owner of a boutique branding & design consultancy that helps experienced service-based businesses impress their dream clients.
On this blog I write about art, design, creativity, business, productivity and marketing, and share my creative process and tips. Read more about me...
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