Bullish: How To Make A Career Out Of The 10,000 Things You Want To Do

Jennifer Dziura writes Bullish, a career column, for The Grindstone on Fridays and Bullish Life, a life coaching column, for our sister site TheGloss on Tuesdays.

If you grow up being told that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and that girls can be President and go to the moon, it kind of leaves you a little paralyzed by all options, doesn’t it? Or even guilty that you’re not an astronaut. (Or better: PRESIDENT ASTRONAUT!)

Let’s hear today from a reader who dubbed herself, “99-talents-and-practicality-ain’t-one” (or, for the rest of this column, “99”).

Dear Jen,

I am dying. Please, help me. I often struggle with my self-perception, so I will describe my most recent career path, and thus dilemma, to you the way most everyone describes it to me.
Among the most popular in respect to my work-life from friends, family, and HR reps are:

    • flighty
    • wasting my potential
    • making dead-end career choices
    • unfocused
    • lazy
    • undisciplined
    • unwilling to grow/stay put in a single venture

I would love to argue against this laundry list of pleasantries, but since the time I graduated from school in 2007 – and maybe even as long as I have been on this earth –  what I tend to do is start 10,000 different ventures a year/week/day, succeed to a certain extent, and then never complete them to mastery.

I feel that you being the bullish woman that you are, would provide me with the next bit advice: f- them! do all that you want as long as you make profit from it (probably worded more eloquently and sans grammatical errors), but I cannot. I feel stuck. For every random skill I have — and I have many — I have a shortcoming that halts its development into a successful business plan. Not only that, these feelings of floundering have consumed my ambition. The only thing that keeps my head afloat is the fear of submitting to a mediocre 9-to-5.

In short, I love my random adventures and quirky collection of inapplicable (and some very practical) skills, but I do not know what to do with the dissonance I feel between their value in my life and their ability to bring me real financial and personal success.

Signed,

99-talents-and-practicality-ain’t-one

Oh, we all contain multitudes, don’t we? A couple months ago I wrote Bullish: Cultivating a Career When You Have Too Many Choices, in which I suggested that you can indeed fuck all the haters and do all the things you want, as long as you can make a profit. Except that most of us can’t just randomly do a bunch of crazy shit and somehow be able to pay the rent.

Photo: mast3r /Shutterstock.com

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    • eemusings

      I read that book a while ago – my best friend’s mother, funnily enough, suggested it for my partner, one of those types who’s good at everything he tries, but gets bored easily and lacks directions.

      I kind of agree with some of your thoughts on Refuse to Choose. But for me, my main takeaway was that everybody does not necessarily have one chosen path. Which is totally okay (maybe you knew that before, but for me it was a bit of a revelation). A good-enough job is good enough for some people, as long as it gives them room and money to pursue their passions elsewhere, with decent pay and being reasonably challenging and interesting. That sometimes you should build your job around your lifestyle, or rather, choose one that fits in with the vision you have for your life. And perhaps most of all, that all your various skills and interests can lead to reinventing your career several times over, over the years.

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    • Eve

      This came at a great time for me. I was having a similar issue, going “well, I like to do this and this and this and this,” and I realized that everything can be applied to working in/for/with a theatre company. Granted, theatre isn’t particularly lucrative, but I did find it pleasing to note that any and all of my skills could come in handy while doing the main thing that I love/have a degree in/have professional experience in.

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