Balancing passion when you have a zillion ideas or interests
Balancing passion has never been my strong suit. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a wizard princess swan. (Particularly for the respective accessories: a wand, a crown, and wings.) I was a Jill of all Trades right through adolescence in adulthood, though my trades of choice got a bit more practical in their titles.
However, they were not so practical in the actual execution. I took on anywhere from 3 to 5 passions at a time. I must have misinterpreted the parental pep talk of “you can be anything you want” to “you can be everything you want.”
I was so busy focusing on everything that I could never fully accomplish one thing. I was always an aspiring this and an amateur that. But being a well-rounded amateur rarely pays off. After all of that juggling, I hardly had the time to fit expertise or even achievement in. My pursuit of many meant sacrificing mastery of one.
If someone ever wanted to talk to me (or hire me) about one of my many passions, my impostor syndrome was suffocating. I never felt worth someone’s time or money because surely they’d discover my inadequacies.
This is the bane of the aspiring multi-hyphenate.
The passion juggling act is essentially flitting from one thing to another, only to prove yourself unable to balance such a bevy of interests. By the time you catch one ball, you are already throwing it back up in the air so that you can catch the next one. This cycle goes on and on until all of the balls go flying in separate directions.
5 ways for the multi-passionate to find balance:
Make a decision
One of the possible culprits of your juggling act may very well be that you are passive about decision making. Sacrifice when you must. Sometimes your enthusiasms must fall at the feet of your purpose. It is okay to demote some of those occupations to hobbies so that you can better prioritize what matters.
Know your why’s
So I really, really wanted to be a wedding planner simply because I loved the movie. I literally had no other reasoning then that I adored Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner. And you would think that it would have been a phase. But I wanted to be a wedding planner for years. I almost majored in event planning. Luckily a spring break trip revealed to me that I hate event planning.
It’s important to source your why. There is a myriad of external reasonings that will mask themselves as your own pure intentions. You family. Your peers. Vengeance. Money. Celebrities. The list is infinite.
And if unlucky, you only discover the mixup years after living a disgruntled life of mediocrity and passive acceptance. Before pursuing your supposed passions, try to delve into your motivations behind them. If they source back to you, you know you’re on the right track. If not, it might be time to reposition.
Mastering focus is one of the most important components to balancing multiple passions. No more multitasking. Do not switch in and out of tasks in hopes of covering more ground. Your focus should be defined by its relentless singularity.
When you distribute your focus, you will only deprive yourself of completion and mastery. If it is a passion worthwhile, see it all the way through. This may mean letting some activities fall on the backburner in favor of another one’s realization. The fulfillment of one thing is better than several incomplete projects.
Set your priority. Know your first place and funnel your valuable time and energy into that one. Relegate your secondary passions to marginal time. They are nonessential until your priority is satisfied.
The best method I’ve found for mastering focus is batching tasks. This minimizes the cumbersome mental task that comes with transitioning between dissimilar tasks.
When switching tasks, you must mentally clock out of one in order to clock into another, you too must detach completely from your first in order to properly immerse in the other. Batching helps smooth this transition and helps you achieve flow state more efficiently.
Blend your primaries and your secondaries
Identify an intersection between your passions. Some of the best ideas came from two unlikely realities coming together to create something not yet discovered.
When you would rather not pick just one, try to find the common ground among several. That intersection may support the pursuit of several in order to facilitate the progress of one common entity. To do this, you may choose an executive passion, at least to begin with. And then look at your other interests and find the correlations to the executive one.
For instance, let’s say you want to learn how to code, improve your writing, and still have time to paint. You would be all over the place if you were juggling all three separately.
Perhaps you start a blog documenting or teaching about your artwork, meanwhile slowly improving it by customizing it with CSS. Your blogging about your art will not only make you an authority on art, adding credentials to your resume as an artist. You will also become progressively better at writing via documenting your artwork. And as you design your website, you will learn a surface level of code, enough to navigate your way through small changes.
Despite the multiple passions represented here, you are maintaining one primary focus: creating content for your art blog. This will keep your to-do list in a single-file line.
So, you may not be a full-blown developer/artist/author, but as an art blogger, you will most certainly be an artist who knows how to code and write.
And as you lay those surface skills, through the sheer repetition, those periphery skills will only improve. They will lay a solid foundation to build upon later. If you later decide to take coding more seriously, you will not be starting from scratch.
Scheduling is paramount to keeping your clarity. Break down long-term intentions into smaller steps and shorter goals. Set deadlines to keep your achievement and expectations in front of you. Monitor your improvement and progress.
Create routines and systems so that some of your tasks can be made easier by the psychology of habit. When something is a habit you use less energy on willpower. It becomes second nature. You don’t have to think twice about doing it. Allowing your brain to do some things on autopilot frees your brain up to more efficiently apply energy to what the things that require manual effort.
Do you struggle with focusing on a single passion? What do you do to achieve one thing at a time?
Lauren is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to writing here on Pursuit of Daydreams, Lauren’s daydreams consist of all forms of design: Graphic, Fashion, Web, Interior, Art. On any given day, she can be found preoccupied with at least one of the above. She is happiest with a bowl of ice cream in hand.
Also published on Medium.