Too Many Careers? (Diversifying Your Talents and Energy)

I’ve always been creative. I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve been satisfied just doing a task. I was the kid who liked to mow the lawn in circular patterns (much to the dismay of my parents) and fold and stack the towels in different ways as to make patterns. I have certainly come to love order in my life more and more as I’ve gotten older, but one fact remains, everything I do has a creative edge to it.

Growing up my Mum was incredibly creative. We had little money but she was always fixing, fabricating, painting, and we KNEW that she could do/fix anything. She had many careers over the course of my time at home from circuit board solderer, landscaper, horse trainer, maid, seamstress, vet tech and the list goes on and on. Now she and my father buy houses and redo them. (they’ve also set up an animal shelter/hospital) They can take a house with walls that are bulging out from water damage and transform it into a show-piece in a matter of a month. The living spaces they create are astounding.

I suppose I never thought having just one career was an option. I was interested in so many things and I was poor. Necessity will lead one in all kinds of directions. I needed to be able to do whatever interesting job that came my way and that’s just what I did. I started as a waitress, and then worked in a food packing plant, a old fashioned meat market, a grocery store, a catering business, a hot deli, preparing food for cancer drug studies, line cook, head of a restaurant, private chef, food consultant (all the while gigging weekly with music, writing songs and studying nutrition at university) Then I hit a bit of an impasse. I’d always had trouble with maths in school even though I was in honours English, and I found that as the maths and chem at university got harder, I just couldn’t hack it. By this time I had tired of the long exhausting hours of food service and was working at a jewellery store. My boss talked to me about studying gemmology (the study of diamonds and gemstones) and so I started studying at the Gemological Institute of America. I then also decided that it’d be a good idea to study to become a jeweller, so became an apprentice. It never occurred to me that it was a weird thing to do having just failed to complete my bachelor’s degree in nutrition, I just went with it. I was interested, it was a job, and it was creative.

Now years later, I’m still a professional musician, still a jeweller, and still a chef. I do none of these jobs full-time but I’m able to do one or the other based on where my life is at the moment. For example, for the last three years I’ve been raising a little dude, and as he gets older I’m taking on more and more work. I’m working on a children’s album and an accompanying children’s book, my jewellery designs as well as fine vintage items, various food production/consultant projects and a clean-eating allergy friendly cookbook. I’m so thankful at this point that I do all that I do and none of the time I spent in my lifetime learning these things seems wasted. I may have seemed like a bit of a career philanderer in the past, but now it all makes sense. Now I ask you, how many careers is too many?

The lovely painting at the top of this blog posting is from flickr and created by Paulo Colachino. It is licensed    under creative commons. Please click the painting to see more of Paulo’s work! 


7 comments to “Too Many Careers? (Diversifying Your Talents and Energy)”

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  1. I’ve always had too many interests, and never felt like I got particularly good at any of them. I would rather do a lot of things reasonably well than one thing better than anyone else. Short attention span, perhaps.

    While that means I start far more projects than I ever finish, it does mean that at least I get to maintain my interest for the most part. Some of those things pay me money. Most of them don’t. Sometimes I forget which is which. But the upshot is that I don’t really have a division between work and not work. It’s all part of one continuum.

    My job is basically ‘stuff I like and things I’m interested in’. And while I think I’m incredibly lucky to be in that position, I also suspect that far more people could have that if they really believed it was possible.

    I tend to think people like what they’re good at, and they’re good at what they like. And if you’re good at something, you can probably make it your job. Or at least, one component of the series of activities you can add up to making a living.

  2. Andrew, I love this “Some of these things pay me money. Most of them don’t. Sometimes I forget which is which.”

    I wish more people did the things that they love and are good at. Sometimes, people chase after whatever they think will pay them the most money. Perhaps it is initially born out of necessity. I know many of these people and they often not only hate what they do, but are rubbish at it as a result.

    In turn it’s heartening to know people like you. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. I have so many bits and pieces I’ve brought with me from previous jobs that I’m always unsure what I’m best suited to next. Basically, I just haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with a less tightly focused range of interests/talents.

  4. Thanks so much for your comment Andrew C! Yes, I think we’re in good company! x

  5. It’s great to try to diversify as much as possible, and it does keep your interest going if you have a very low boredom threshold like me. But I do find it more difficult as I get older to keep more than one thing going. It’s partly the time needed to keep at the cutting edge of a field and partly the momentum shift required to kick off projects and switch between fields..

  6. Hi Tom! I think we might have the same issue at present which keeps us from successfully juggling careers….the toddler! 🙂 I find as mine gets closer to 3 and becomes more and more independent that there is more time for working on things. When Flapjack was aged 1.5-2.75 I got almost nothing done! I had to fight for every little moment! But it does get easier! x

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American born Lobelia isn’t just your typical singer-songwriter. A multi-instrumentalist who worked as a studio musician for 10+ years, she has won multiple awards for her songwriting, has been featured in Billboard Magazine, and was one of the original Women of MP3.COM in the early days of the Internet. Now living in the UK after a 7 year stint in Montreal, she hosts several acclaimed songwriter nights at Tower of Song, Birmingham’s best small music venue. An advocate for sustainable touring, she travels the world performing at house concerts and small venues.