The Upside to Being a Person Who Gets Bored With Everything

Do you have so many interests that you literally do not know what to do with your life? Or perhaps you have a woefully low boredom threshold and are sure that, whatever you are obsessed with now, you'll eventually lose interest and let it go—so that you can start something new and totally unrelated instead?

If so, you're not alone.

Portland-based Emilie Wapnick felt the same way. Frustrated by society's pressure to choose her "one true calling," she set out to forge a different path. In 2010 Wapnick founded Puttylike.com, an online resource for people who have many passions and creative pursuits. To date, the business has spawned a blog, a digital guide, courses and a book, Renaissance Business, which helps people with multiple interests—just like you—combine all their passions and build businesses without narrowing their focus. Wapnick herself graduated from the Faculty of Law at McGill University before launching a career as a web designer, musician, filmmaker, writer, speaker and career coach.

Some of us don't have one true calling

In her inspiring TED Talk on the subject, Wapnick celebrates the "multipotentialite"—someone who has a talent and knowledge of many things. Multipotentialites, she explains, are not wired to pursue a single, overriding passion and devote their life to it. Instead, what really interests them is having the freedom to explore a dynamic range of jobs and interests over the course of a lifetime. In the past, these people were known as Renaissance Men. Examples include Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Wapnick believes that multipotentialites do not have one true calling, but many. And they often feel anxious when speaking about their multifaceted careers and interests since there's a risk that society will judge them harshly for it. People who are curious about lots of different subjects, and want to do many things, are often made to feel like they lack purpose and discipline. They are made to feel like there is something wrong with them.

There's nothing wrong with you, urges Wapnick. In fact, multipotentialites have three superpowers that people who specialize typically lose—and these strengths can produce some truly inspiring results.

1. Idea synthesis

When multipotentialites pursue all the fields they are interested in, they develop a diverse mix of skills and experience. Innovation happens when these experiences synthesize, creating something new at the intersection.

Wapnick gives the example of Sha Hwang, a designer and technologist, and Rachel Binx, a data visualizer, developer and designer. Together, they drew on their eclectic mix of design, cartography, travel and mathematics skills to found Meshu, a business that creates custom, geographically-inspired jewelry. Hwang and Binx did not pluck this idea out of thin air. It occurred because they were able to access a mix of experiences and bring them all together to create something unique and exciting.

2. Rapid learning

Because multipotentialites are used to starting at the bottom in every new arena they pursue, they are able to learn extremely quickly. Plus, they happily embrace the skills they used in other disciplines, bringing everything they've ever learned to each new challenge. This means that most multipotentialites can learn deeper and faster than the average Joe, building layer upon layer of interconnected skill. It explains how a child concert pianist can use her muscle memory to become the fastest typist in town.

"It's never a waste of time to pursue something you're drawn to, even if you end up quitting," says Wapnick. "You might apply that knowledge in a different field entirely, in a way that you couldn't have anticipated."

3. Adaptability

Adaptability, explains Wapnick, is the ability to morph into whatever you need to be in a given situation. She gives the example of Abe Cajudo, a multipotentialite video director, web designer, Kickstarter consultant and teacher who is valuable to clients because he can wear many hats, and take on various roles, depending on his client's needs.

Fast Company magazine identifies adaptability as the most significant skill to develop in order to thrive in the 21st century. In an era of rapid change, businesses need adaptable, insightful, out-of-the-box thinkers to keep ideas flowing. Some of the best teams are comprised of a specialist and multipotentialite paired together, says Wapnick. "The specialist can dive in deep and implement ideas, while the multipotentialite brings a breadth of knowledge to the project. It's a beautiful partnership."

So if anyone asks you where you're going to be in five years' time, stop panicking. Smile, and tell them, you have absolutely no idea. You're a multipotentialite, and that means you can do all the things you love equally and build a financially comfortable life in the process. In the words of Emilie Wapnick: "Embrace your many passions. Follow your curiosity down those rabbit holes. Explore your intersections. Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life. And perhaps more importantly: multipotentialites, the world needs us."

Molly Owens

Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. Since 2006, she has specialized in helping individuals and organizations utilize personality assessments to develop their potential.

In 2012, Molly founded Truity with a mission to make robust, scientifically validated personality assessments accessible to everyone who may benefit from them.

Molly is an ENTP and lives in San Francisco, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and racing toy cars with her son.

Comments

sallovita says...

A truly fantastic and inspiring article. Mary

DannyD (not verified) says...

Thanks for this excellent post! I actually did feel a sense of relief about my own life after learning about this concept. I do agree that we live in an amazing era, and that ideas are now a large part of the economic landscape. "Multipotentialites" should do well in this new economy.

Desi Perez (not verified) says...

Wow that's me so there's hope for me yet lol

milla (not verified) says...

I'm lovin' it :)

RoxyD. (not verified) says...

Omg! Yes! This is all me! Absolutely love this! I absolutely relate to every single word you said! I'm so happy to have read this!I I've always wondered why I felt this way and as you described my ability to learn things always blows people away, I don't even understand it sometimes, over the years what ever I felt passion for I dove into without any fear of failure and learned it and surely at its 5th or sixth year of me doing what I was doing became bored with it. I've been a business owner of a fashion store, a published makeup artist (self taught), a very successful cake artist, event stylist and dessert table stylist, one of my most favorite! Lastly this year I resumed to complete my degree and graduate this year, oh yes and have recently decided to follow my dream job as a visual merchandiser for one of my favorite stores, still in the back of my mind I wish to retire as a florist (I've been one for the last year lol). As you can see, I am indeed a renaissance woman and I love it! I look forward to attending a seminar regarding this topic in sometime in the near future, cheers everyone!

Roxy

Kayelle (not verified) says...

This is so me and thank you.
I have been made to feel like I'm all over the place.
But i would rather juggle 10 different projects and clients than have 1 full time job. The thought of which makes me panic

Nicky90 (not verified) says...

Really wonderful and truly inspires me. I don't feel so bad now.

Deborah Yeary (not verified) says...

I've been struggling with this all my life I am 63 retired. I thought I had ADD. I am glad to know I am not at It alone.

Gala K Romm (not verified) says...

That is the description of my life.

Robert Cook Jr (not verified) says...

I'm a classic INTJ with as many interests at work as I have at home. This article is essentially a bio summary. At work my charter is process engineering but I relish the legal, commercial and business components that at first leave me at a SME disadvantage (but not for long). I buy books and absorb like fresh desiccant tossed into a river. I still feel lost and clueless but probably have more tools than even those in the field at the end of the day.

It doesn't end at home. Guitar, building PC, programming, flying model planes, boating, travel, home projects of every type, I am always cycling through them to keep it fresh. Among them all, the static guitar has been both my biggest mentor and adversary to advancement. It keeps me humble on a creative level.

Great article by the way. I talk too much.

Christi (not verified) says...

I wish this idea was around when I was in college -- choosing a major was brutal! All I wanted to do was take every class offered and learn everything. What was the problem with that? ;)

ChrisA (not verified) says...

I have, for most of my lifetime, been trying to figure out what I wanted to do "when I grew up". I currently do IT support for a living, as that easily provides a variance of challenges on a daily basis. However, IT is not something that I wish to do for the rest of my life. My hobbies include woodworking, remodeling my house, gardening, photography, writing books, and designing a new house. So, what do I want to do when I grow up. Honestly, I have no clue, but it will be something from one of my hobbies, OR something completely new that I have yet to discover.

I can say, though, that it will most likely be a tie into the new house that I am designing. I have an above ground house that is designed to NOT need HVAC. I live in Georgia (USA). The businesses that I wish to start are all spin-offs of my thinking about the house design, and a combination of some of my other hobbies.

And all of this stems from the fact that I love to learn new things, or added things for something that I know, or know a little bit about. I describe my college education as a neoclassical education. I had a heavy math and sciences background, and on top of that, I added philosophy, history, and then computers and programming. Again, it was all wrapped around what will I do when I grow up, and not knowing the answer. I look at it this way, I will only stop learning new things when I am dead. It is that simple.

This article struck a chord with me in that it was VERY familiar to what life has been for me for the last 47 years. And I still see that there is so MUCH more to learn and to do.

Tilak Patel (not verified) says...

Hi, i know this might feel a bit awkward but i read through your comment and i realized we are very similar in nature, the only difference being age. I am 23 and living in Uganda, Africa figuring out what to do in life. I did an advanced diploma in Software engineering then developed interest in Business management so i'm currently pursuing a BBA which is later going to be followed by an MBA(marketing) and then Chattered Marketing. You must wondering why i'm telling you all this. I just want you to give me your perspective on life. I mean with all the random interests i have from music, photography, psychology, agriculture and many others(and still growing), i have received a lot of criticism and i am also constantly anxious about my future mainly how i am going to get employed with this world being so narrow minded and how i can have a financially secure future. I am requesting you to say whatever few words you have after reading this. :)

June Gray (not verified) says...

I love this article. I thought I was unable to commit to anything long term. When I left school I was a personal assistant to the owner
of a hotel. Before long I was arranging weddings and functions on my own. Everything from the menus, place settings, photographer, cars and flowers. Then I took over my mums grocery store and extended it into a mini market, sold it and bought a pub, then a bigger pub with two restaurants. Went to college and trained as a chef. Went on to become a buyer and merchandiser for our clothing store. Studied psychotherapy at university. I loved ever single thing I did. Now I have retired I just go line dancing, ballroom dancing, singing, tai chi and lots of lunches with friends. Variety is the spice of life!

Guest (not verified) says...

This is just like Barbara Sher! :)

Allie.Duckienz (not verified) says...

That's what I thought. Her work is excellent :D

Kim Disney (not verified) says...

Whatever the situation, I tend to think outside the box. This seems to be intimidating (offensive) to most others - and very frustrating. They don't want to hire me to do the job, but to do the job their way (which isn't working). Consequently, I'm often turned down by arrogant buffoons who are limited by their own inability to see.

Jingting (not verified) says...

This is me!!I don't do a good variety of things because I can get bored when there's no excitement left.

Sacha (not verified) says...

I also relate well to this. I constantly feel bad because I get these grand ideas, sometimes write them down, maybe start up something, and then stop. I usually only go back when I'm motivated by external sources for a moment. (a book or movie or article or something inspirational) I usually feel overwhelmed by my ideas and with the thought that I won't be able to finish my projects to perfection in the way that I want. I am an INTP. My ISTJ boyfriend says I'm lazy and I feel that way because I often just watch YouTube or go on Facebook or play games instead of doing my hobbies. I really want to do them and learn and experience so many things but I guess thinking about the work required makes me default to mind numbing things instead. Though, I've found that this is overridden by my need to feel responsible when others are affected. Deadline coming up on a project and everyone is bombarded with other work? I will get that project done. A friend waited until the last minute and needs help with research for a paper? Does she want scholarly journals, books, or what? Because I've got her covered. I guess that's my specialty if nothing else.

Lullabies (not verified) says...

I am just like you!! Everything you said, (almost!) down to the ISTJ boyfriend lol the main difference is that I am an INFP... I'm confused as to how closely I relate to what you said given you said you're an INTP. What do you think we should do? Just go with it and finish everything we start? :) I got a feeling fear is getting in our way... I need to accept that it doesn't matter if I'm not "good enough" at what I do yet.. because I just need to keep doing it and it's because that's the only way to begin feeling some sort of satisfaction from my skills. That's the only way to get better at anything. We must work up the courage to just do it!

Sacha (not verified) says...

Haha. I actually mistyped myself as an INFP for a year or so and then INFJ for a bit as well. But when I took a more thorough test (the one on mypersonality.info) I found that if I was honest I was an INTP. I'm guessing that with the N and the P we're more prone to having creative ideas but not following through with them. I know that for me it's a mixture of being a bit lazy (INTP's are kind of known for that. We don't really like using energy if we don't have to or if it's not for something we enjoy. I think of that gamer/coder in the basement who barely gets sunlight when I think of us) and not wanting to take on a daunting task when I can watch youtube instead. I'm also really sensitive to coffee and have a million different food and seasonal allergies. At the end of the day I'm feeling sick or tired or both, and worse if I've eaten some tree nuts by accident.

I'm very into natural remedies and those have been helping. I have tea instead of coffee to give me energy but not so much that I get anxious. I stay away from most foods that I know cause problems for me. I've been exercising a bit more and I actually searched for ways to keep myself from being tired or to have motivation to do things. There were a lot of tips but for me the biggest help was going immediately to the site of the project I wanted to work on when I got home from work instead of going to my couch. I've been able to do little parts of the projects that way and can feel better about resting afterwards knowing that I got something accomplished that day. Going for small goals instead has been great, and even better has been to divide things among different days. So if I want to clean my room but I also want to cook, workout, write, record videos, etc, I do a few tasks one day and then a few the next day. With my boyfriend here it helps too because even though he's always nagging me about cleaning or something, he helps me and gets me off the couch by reminding me of what I wanted to do that day.

I guess this long post helps to tell us apart. haha. But I don't think we have to finish everything we start. Maybe having the ideas, writing them down, working towards them in pieces is best for bigger projects and maybe some things are just not that interesting once we start them. Nothing wrong with figuring out that we don't like something after trying it out. We can cross it off the list.

Joanna Elizabeth (not verified) says...

Must be dull being a single potentialite!

They seem to struggle with us mutli- potentialites at times!

And have a look at the Barabra Sher book "Refuse to Choose" - it it a great read too - about multipotentialites - or scanners as she calls them

Rothgar (not verified) says...

College Students really need to take the personality test and realize who they are. It's liberating to finally understand who you are and why you do what you do. It will help them mold their path.
Boredom for me settles in at the two to three-year mark. I've figured it out, set up processes to make it work, taught people how to do it and now... what? Move on to something else to figure out. Life ceases to be challenging so go find another challenge.
Even driving is challenging - how fast can I take this exit ramp, how quick can I negotiate traffic, what's the quickest route home?
My youngest daughter (19) took the test and learned that she is my same personality type. We have a great time talking about our similarities and laughing about our little quirks. It helps her understand why she is the way she is. Hopefully this knowledge will help her in the future as she is always learning, never satisfied with where she is.

slava.batkaev says...

I love this article...and whole site too!

Emerald INTJ (not verified) says...

Tell people you're a polymath. Most will have no idea what it means but will be too embarrassed or self-absorbed to ask; those who respond with a smile are your potential new BFFs. My ubergeek ENTP partner actually has this on his resume. Although he has never coalesced all his college credits into a degree, his wide swath of skills has made him very valuable. He was just recruited at a hot startup & is making $$$, some of which is going toward our pinnball machine collection (all of which he has rebuilt) & guitars. Sound familiar?? : - ) He is awesome.

Guest (not verified) says...

This article is great and satisfying. We are always in a bundle. I always fear of losing my one interest in the urge of following others. Now I have confidence to build and furnish my all interest n ideas.

Cool Dee (not verified) says...

That is soo me,always trying to learn something new.Taichi,photography,singing,dancing,modelling,writing,playing tennis,politics actress salsa,playing musical instruments.Name it and I am in the bandwagon still in the university and each semester I partake in something new.People see me as someone who isn't disciplined coz I spoke it up and move to the next exciting thing,the negativity from even my parents made me to start second guessing myself.I thank God for finding this test and doing the test,,Being an ENTP is really fun

Alexandra van niekerk (not verified) says...

I got bored reading this ;). Just joking, it is very good to know that for some people it is hard to find one calling instead of many.

Nathan Mueller (not verified) says...

THank you so much for writing this! I found this a very encouraging read and I'm glad to discover puttylike.com, I think It will be very useful for my interests.

maus.simone says...

What a wonderful article Mary. This is such a relief. I never thought about this the way you described it. I always thought something is wrong with me that i have not that one true calling everyone seems to have. I am now on the journey to embrace my multipotentialites with all the strengths you described. I can so relate to all of this. I started my own business 5 years ago and I am still trying to fit into some box. Now I realise I have to find my own sweet spot and embrace my multifaceted interests and abilities. Thank you I will spread this article wide. i think the world needs it.

maus.simone says...

Excuse me. I meant thank you Molly :-)

INTProcrastinator (not verified) says...

Well, I think I found a perfect label for my work style, and some reassurance to boot. With college quickly approaching, I've been rather worried about picking a major I know I'll be bored of within a month's time, and this gives me hope for other paths in life.

Great article.

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