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My Favorite Reads for Polymaths, Multipotentialites, and Renaissance Souls

Friday, April 20, 2018
Being a person with multiple interests makes life into a crazy ride with all kinds of twists and turns. It's not surprising that there are multiple labels for people who are multi-talented. In putting together this post, I came across the terms polymath, generalist, scanner, multipassionate, multipassionista, multipotentialite, and renaissance soul. Then there is the sarcastic "jack-of-all-trades " which for awhile I took as a compliment.

The main reason why I decided to let go of my previous blog is because it was built around one subject: creating comics and manga. I enjoy making comics, but I also find many other things and topics interesting. Having a love for knowledge and mastering new things makes life an adventure, but it can also make it confusing.

There's the anxiety that comes from trying to do it all, plus the pressure to pick one thing already. There's the struggle of "Can I do it all as job? I can't really pick a profession..." And then there's all the ideas! Some days I feel like my brain is just going to explode if I think of any more ideas. Starting projects and losing interest, wondering if anything that you do is leading anywhere...

Having multipotential is overwhelming!

So, below are my favorite books and articles on how to deal with multipotential.




How to Create One Brand When You Have Many Passions from Mindful Pixels


It amazes me how the ikigai Venn diagram seems designed for those with multipotential. This worksheet was created with those who want to start a business in mind, but I think it can be a helpful tool for those who want to balance their general pursuits as well.

It has definitely helped me to refocus on this blog with confidence and not worry so much about bringing in topics that aren't directly related to writing and comic making.

When I filled it out, I was able to see the difference between the things I love to do and what I'm good at, bringing home the reality that not all the talents I have are at a level where I can do them as a job or are even worth sharing. And that's okay. Those things can be my own personal hobbies that I enjoy for the sake of enjoyment.

Things that I'm good at, can be paid for, and that I love to do,  have career potential. Believe it or not, that's not everything.

The beauty of all of this is that it separates your multitude of interests into meaningful categories. You can see what roles your interests and talents can play not only in business, but in your life.

Plus if you have one or two things that fill all four categories, you know that those are the things to focus on first. That's your ikigai for now. Once what to focus on is clear, you can slowly mix in other skills to make your focus more multifaceted.

If you're artistically inclined, try doing this worksheet in an art journal. I've found that filling it in, highlighting the words that stand out to me, writing more about them, and adding art, has given me extra insight about what skills and interests are important to me right now.


How to Pursue All of Your Passions Without Looking Flaky by Marie Forleo 


This is a light-hearted video with practical advice for the multi-passionate. My favorite suggestions:

It's okay to have fun in private. With it being so easy to share what we're working on, it's tempting to start an Instagram account for every new interest or tell everyone in our family about our latest hobby. But the thing is, a new interest usually isn't polished enough to be shared, and it doesn't have to be shared with anyone.

Like I mentioned before, I'm not good at all the things that I love to do. But I don't have to be good at things for them to be enjoyable. Keeping some hobbies to ourselves helps us to not feel the pressure of doing things perfectly right out the gate. Having personal hobbies gives us the freedom to experiment and have fun. Impressing others is not necessary.

Don't make everything into a business. I think it's normal for the multi-talented to have an entrepreneurial streak because starting a business holds the allure of doing work that sufficiently uses all of our talents. However, not all skills are business worthy, and realistically, turning all of our skills into a business would be a high pressured life. Some skills are for income. Others are for fun. Both are needed.

Managing Personal Projects in a Bullet Journal from Minimal.plan


This post starts with the words, "I'm always starting 15 projects at the same time..."

Sounds way too familiar. I like this post because it presents a practical and straight forward method of prioritizing project ideas, letting you shift through what projects should be taken on now and which are best left for later. I also like how she explains after picking a project to start on,  she creates a simple action plan that includes addressing workarounds for setbacks.

I think all with multipotential need to have:

  • A method of getting ideas on paper 
  • A way to prioritize/sort through them
  • A basic plan of how to get started on projects and deal with setbacks so that there's more incentive to follow through


Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher


I like how this book acknowledges that not all of us polymaths are alike, and that we have different ways of approaching our love of learning. It also offers a wide variety of tools to make working on and learning multiple skills practical and not something to be ashamed of.

In her book, Sher presents different styles of multipotential and tools that can work for each style. There are two main styles. There's the Cyclical Scanner who goes through the same laundry list of interests over and over again (That's me!). And then there's the Sequential Scanner, who tries or learns something new once, and then they move on to the next thing without looking back. Then those two groups are further divided into sub-types.

My favorite tools are the Scanner Daybook and the Avocation Station. Basically, the Scanner Daybook is a notebook dedicated to brainstorming and growing your ideas. This has been great for me because once I write down an idea and flesh it out some, I can quickly see if it's love or a passing infatuation. Plus, some ideas need time to grow and when I have them in a notebook, I can return to my ideas over and over, growing and planning until I see that it's time to make a move. The Daybook slows me down and keeps me from jumping into projects too fast.

The Avocation Station is a way to put your project and supplies all in one place, so when you're ready to work on it, everything is ready to go. This can be in a box or a little cabinet on wheels--whatever fits your projects. The goal of this is to make it quick and easy to set up your workspace for your projects, even if you have limited time.

Another thing that stands out in this book is the reminder to schedule your use of skills in a way that fits your natural work cycle.

As someone who returns to multiple interests over and over, I've found it helpful to write down what those interests are and then make a note of the last time I engaged in them. After that, I can make a flexible schedule of when I want to engage in a certain activity.

For example, I've found that I do best when I focus on a writing project one week at a time. So I plan to work on my novel for one week, but then the next week do some art. After that I return to writing again, and the week after that I do something else.


Other Things to Read


These two resources cover the same ground as the first three, but they do offer some different perspectives.

The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine - Has more advice about work, shifting through ideas, and features more "no, you're not crazy" encouragement.

Puttylike- Features articles written by others with multipotential.

Parting Words

Another issue those with multipotential struggle with is progress anxiety. Since we are learning multiple skills simultaneously, we don't progress as quickly as those who can devote their entire focus to one thing. The desire to make progress like everyone else can cause us to try to rush through our projects. However, we have to be realistic and realize that yes, we may not be as advanced as that other person over there. But is that other person a writer/artist/music composer/programmer/gardener? Probably not. 

We have more on our plate than most people, so we have to be confident that although our progress seems slower, we're still making progress. Each step forward is meaningful. And when we do mature in our skills, they are augmented by all of the other talents we have acquired, giving our abilities a different dimension from that of the person who focuses on one thing. 

So go at your natural pace. Don't rush or worry. And if you have a goal you want to reach, set one. Just be aware that you may need to put it farther into the future than most people because on your journey towards that goal, you will also be tending to other interests, and there is nothing wrong with that.


*There are no affiliate links in this post. Just stuff that I like*




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