Maybe you’ve heard the word multi-passionate before.
This term explains the feeling of being pulled in many directions that you care deeply about. It encapsulates the struggle of focusing on just one thing in your career when you’re interested in, and capable of, so many different things.
I remember back to a conversation I had when deciding if I should enroll in grad school. It was the first time I realized that you could actually be highly educated and still NEED multiple jobs to make ends meet.
This conversation was with the head of volunteers for an organization I was involved with. She had her master’s in social work and public health – a path I was considering at the time. In addition to the taxing social service work she did, she also taught at a nearby college. When I heard this, the first thing I thought was – That sounds exhausting. Why would I go back to school only to work harder?
Blame it on being 23 and a bit green, but the idea that holding multiple jobs was completely foreign to me. I saw it as a failure rather than an opportunity to pursue different passions.
My First Side-Hustle
Fast-forward five years to my first side hustle: a wedding planning business. At the time I was employed full-time at an international development agency coordinating projects in Africa. I was looking for a way to flex my creative muscles and be closer to the product I was spending my time coordinating.
Looking back, the one thing that held from meeting my potential as a wedding planner was my fear of being “found out.” I kept my business secret from my full-time job and I tried my hardest not to let my clients know that I had another job. Note to self: it’s hard to grow a business while keeping a low profile.
My fear was that if clients found out I had another job, I’d appear illegitimate…a fraud.
Also running through my mind was the thought that if I wasn’t doing it full-time, I was less valuable than a planner who was.
Feeling this way led me to charge less than others in the industry, overcompensate to prove my worth, and constantly worry about being found out.
The funny thing is, when I did actually come clean with my clients about also having another job, not only were they surprised, they didn’t actually care at all!
Who Doesn't Have More Than Interest?
What I’ve learned is that balancing multiple streams of income is not only admirable, but also normal in today’s professional landscape. Most people hiring you just care about whether you can get the job done on time and deliver on the value you promised.
This is where your professional discretion comes in. There are all sorts of things you need to figure out when balancing multiple streams of income like:
- Are you working on the clock for someone else?
- Will you disclose your side hustle to your employer?
- Are you bound by a non-compete clause?
- When do you know it’s time to quit one position in order to excel in another?
Deciding to Narrow In
When I quit my full-time job to launch Pattern of Purpose, I stayed on part-time with a non-profit consulting organization not only to keep a steady stream of income, but also to continue practicing those skills I learned in graduate school. I wasn’t ready to leave the field altogether even though my career goals had changed.
I was open and honest with my manager about my intentions to grow my coaching practice and to this day I keep a schedule that clearly differentiates my business time from my consulting time.
But recently it’s been made clear I need more time to focus on my clients and growing business more than I need the paycheck I get working for someone else. Even though this is a normal part of career progression – getting better at what you’re best at – it’s still tough for me to give up one area of work to focus on another.
Whether you’re starting something new or pursuing multiple passions, remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. Sometimes you might feel like you had a bit of split personality, but that’s what keep the weeks flying by, exciting as they are challenging.
How have you successfully balanced multiple streams of income? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!