Crucial Skills for the Non-Conformist.

How do you embark on a multi-focused, happiness-oriented life in a way that is realistic and achievable within today’s world?

This is the question I keep coming back to.

A life with several (or many) career focuses comes with a great deal of excitement, joy and accomplishment. It also comes with a distinct set of challenges.

Since identifying as a multipotentialite, I have encountered many of these challenges. Undoubtedly, I have more to discover.

The challenges so far have been the obvious ones: Time Management and Finance Management.

Time and Money.

Time management was always going to be high on the challenge list, and will likely remain number 1 for the foreseeable future. I am slowly learning the crucial skills of project-prioritization and scheduling. Daily scheduling has been important, but I have also recently come to understand the need to prioritise and schedule projects through the scope of a lifetime. I intend to work and create for a very long time, and have had to consider which projects would be better suited to my time as a younger man (tap dance performance), and which can (and perhaps should) be put shelved for older age (novel writing).

I have also had to take a hard look at the role that money plays within my life, where money should come from, and where it should be prioritised and utilised between projects. I’m certainly not bad with money, but I’ve got plenty to learn and I’ve undoubtedly let money-making opportunities slip away.

The reason: I don’t want to think about it. It’s not a place my mind wants to go. It’s a number stored on a computer somewhere. When it comes down to it, I’d rather live with out it, or at least have it taken care of, so I don’t have to waste time thinking about it.

But the fact is that money has to be factored in. It’s been an important lesson to learn, and one that I’m particularly grateful for in recent times.*

The most important skills to develop.

…and the most important questions to ask yourself.

I’ve come up with a list of important questions that I ask myself when I’m considering embarking on a new idea or project, before I’ve made the commitment to proceed:

  • Self Motivation – When you break it down to its most fundamental level, what is it you really want?
  • Discipline & Perseverance – Are you prepared to work, and continue to work when the unexpected gremlins show up? Are you willing to make that commitment?
  • Focus – Are you able and willing to dedicate your mind exclusively to one task at a time?
  • Balance – Are you able to separate yourself from both your successes and failures, and keep ego in check?
  • Time Management – Are you able to be honest and realistic with the time you have available, and prioritise accordingly?
  • Curiosity – With no possible way of knowing for certain where the path leads, how willing are you to explore it?
  • Play – Are you willing to immerse yourself, and have some actual fun?

Try actually asking yourself, but imagine that it’s your future self—the slightly more mature and experienced self—doing the asking.

Awareness. Always awareness.

The road less traveled is exciting and mysterious. Yet, even in 2017, It is a far less accepted and far less supported path, paved with insecurity.

Go ahead and do whatever your heart tells you but it’s never easy when you do things differently from everyone else. If things don’t go well, you only have yourself to blame.
– From the film ‘Whisper of the Heart’, Studio Ghibli, 1995

The most important thing to understand is yourself, and how you function. The only way to do it is play to your strengths. Think about when you’ve done your best work; the work that has made you felt the most fulfilled & happy. What were the circumstances surrounding that?

For me, it’s always autonomy. If I feel that I am free, am allowed the necessary time, then I will work to my fullest, will create quality work, and will likely be damn happy in the process. This is not to say that I’m unhappy working for others—in fact, I relish the chance to be inspired by a leader—however, the moment that someone thinks they own my time (more often than not, as a result of money), the equation no longer works.

The work we choose.

I know that I’m not alone in this. In fact, I think that this could well be everybody. We are all born creative and curious. Even if true freedom is ultimately impossible, if we feel free—feel that we can truly go where we want, do what we want, when we want to do it—then the work that we choose to do will be, if nothing else, quite the adventure.

So my question: when do you feel free?

My theory: Create this feeling within yourself, and your life will change. It may take a little time, but trust me, it will ultimately be for the better.

* I’ve learned a lot about managing time and money, and have developed a few practices, hacks and tools that I intend to share in a later post.