Seth Godin warns against becoming a “wandering generality.” I’m already there.
I started a document a few months ago entitled career planning. In a matter of minutes, I managed to list out no less than 5 careers I want to pursue. The list is still growing. I keep it open on my computer. Every few weeks I find myself making another bullet point, adding another profession I’d like to learn more about and dabble in.
Why don’t you just pick one thing?
The question haunts me. In my journals, I bemoan my lack of direction and focus, devoting entire pages to the problem. My track record, too, shows a woman who has jumped from one house and opportunity and creative concept to the next. It seems the only pattern is my fascination with experimenting, pivoting, and turning sharp corners.
Picking one thing promises simplicity and yet frightens me with self-imposed restrictions.
The business gurus tell me to niche down further and further until my ideas, my identity, fit through a pinhole. Be clear, concise, and compelling with your brand messaging, they say, or no one will understand what you’re about, who you are, or what you offer.
The experts urge me to find the smallest, tiniest thing I can master. Make your life streamlined and slick, everything flowing together seamlessly, is essentially what they are hinting at. We are taught, consistency is key and success follows.
In an unforgettable, coaching conversation with Rob Bell, he told me to “own it all.”
I circled that. I underlined that. I took those three punchy words and made them My Permission Slip for the next phase of my life. Because beneath my question, “Why don’t you just pick one thing?” was something else, a story I’d been believing about how I needed to show up in the world.
Hi, I’m Charissa and I’m a (insert shiny profession, my one area of expertise, my thing).
Guess what? I can’t do it. Never have and now I realize I never will.
It is a sin to squeeze ourselves into a sleek, sexy one-liner. Our vitality flows out from our secret wishes and peculiar, unconforming parts.
The person of Charissa is growing, evolving, transforming, nuanced, complicated, and interesting. She is a living, breathing, walking adventure.
Brie Stoner calls it “vocational pressure,” and explained it this way in her recent podcast episode,
“There is so much that I want to give and there are so many different expressions for that. I find I’m actually in my healthiest alignment as a human being, and spiritually, and in an embodied way when all of these different things are humming because it’s almost like having those many expressions allows me to be single-hearted and not be identified with one too much.
She continues, “…what if we were to practice, I am a many. I am a chord expressing itself over time or unfolding a melody. I wonder if we would feel so threatened or lost when life redirects us on a different path?”
How would it feel to accept the layered dimensions of yourself, the varying iterations, the new shapes and forms you take on throughout the years?
What would happen to your life if you decided to own your unconventional path, instead of worrying about how your multiple, colorful personalities, passions, preferences, and professions can all fit together?
Here are 4 ways we can practice being a living adventure:
1. Grab a blank page right now and write “Career Planning” at the top.
Give yourself 10 minutes to list out anything you’ve ever wanted to get a degree or a license in, anything you’ve ever dreamed of learning or studying, or imagined you might like to make money doing.
Who said career planning needs to be safe and calculated, following one track forever? Could it not be imaginative and playful, ready for anything?
2. Recommit to the art of dabbling and dipping your toe into different endeavors.
Remember what it feels like to be A Many. The world is changing too fast for anyone to be an expert. We are all beginners here.
3. Be a mystery to yourself.
Break the molds of your own making. Whether or not you have an online presence, we all have a proverbial About Me page. The professional you who can write out a mission statement, describe what you do in an elevator pitch, and list out her skill set and interests.
Now, grant yourself permission to never fit in, to a niche group, to a revered title, or to a curated description. Contradict your well-crafted About Me page every day. Make it impossible for people to figure you out and nail you down.
4. Take a vow to become a wandering generality.
A creative wizard constantly wondering what if, following faint whispers from within towards new worlds to simply see what happens next.