“What do you want to be?” A common question asked by solicitous adults of bewildered children throughout their early years. I always solved the problem by jumping on my parent’s bandwagon.
“A Doctor!” I would proclaim boldly and realize I had gotten away again as, with satisfied smiles, they would say, “That will make your father and mother so proud!”
Perhaps so, but the truth is I had no idea what I wanted to be. My dilemma in this area was never about too few choices – just the opposite. My problem was that there were too many things that fascinated me to choose one to the exclusion of all the rest.
About the time I turned fifty I realized that in this regard nothing had changed from my childhood. The days are not long enough, and lately my energy and stamina are not enduring enough for me to accomplish all that my interests lead me to.
When I received my doctorate in psychology, I began my private practice and thought I had found my home as a therapist. That lasted about four years, and then I found myself looking for new areas to explore.
While my primary career identification has remained as a psychologist (It makes answering the question “What do you do?” a whole lot easier!), the truth is I have always had multiple things that take up my time and make life interesting.
Besides practicing as a psychologist I have taught school, tutored others, bred reptiles (mostly snakes), earned a 5th degree black belt in Shaolin Kenpo, earned my Series 6 and life insurance licenses, managed and invested money for me and other members of my family (including preparing their income tax returns), been seriously involved in a nutritional MLM business, been the caretaker for my father, mother, and sister as they died, and with the help of my loving wife built a 1500 square foot home including electrical wiring, plumbing, and gas lines. And these are just the ones that have lasted for more than two years!
I used to worry that there was something wrong with me because I could not find one thing to stick to, one thing I could really commit. But the truth is commitment isn’t the issue, in fact if there is an issue it’s over-commitment to the things that fascinate me, and there is much that fascinates me. What I have discovered is that as long as something fascinates me it can pull me in and keep me engaged for a long time. When my fascination ends, so does my engagement.
And that is the Activity dilemma! Intense engagement followed by often abrupt changes of direction when interest flags. It creates quite a problem for many of the Activity folk I know unless they are able to recognize the source and take a “meta” stance with their careers and jobs.
Often when I coach someone with the Activity Perceptual Style the main focus of the coaching is to get them to accept this aspect of who they are. By this I mean to give up the complaint, “I can’t seem to figure out what I want to do in life.”, and get them to accept that moving from interest to interest is not a problem to be fixed, but a natural result of the way they perceive the world to be accepted and embraced.
This “meta” approach is often a challenge because of the fear of being seen as a dilettante. But if you feel a tingle of excitement about embracing the freedom to explore your many interests with impunity rather than with guilt or apology, I invite you to explore the possibility that you too are one of us!
To find out more about the Activity Perceptual Style, visit our website at www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.