I’ve only recently come to accept that it’s not good to be a Jack of All Trades. Skills are great. Passions are great. But having a diffuse collection of “things” without a tying theme just won’t get me places. To all my friends who self-identify as a ‘Jack of All Trades,’ please note that I said “me.”
It’s About Budget
If there are only so many hours in a day, and so much effort I can exert, I have to choose how to spend my time and exert my efforts. Should I keep my energy diffuse? Great. I’ll dimly light a big wide swath of space. If I choose to focus, I have a laser. Swell to be a nightlight to many different pursuits, but probably more useful to be a laser, don’t you agree?
I hereby choose to budget my time, energy, and effort on things that fit the unifying theme I’ve chosen for all my energy and activities. My budgeting consists of asking this question relentlessly: does this fit my goals?
Hiding No Longer
One secret that all Jacks of All Trades types share is that we can hide behind having so many pursuits. We can hide by casting off the ones where we fail, saying, “Well, I had a lot of other things on the go at the same time.” It also means that we can look really busy by keeping ourselves moving from pile to pile, lifting a single stone, and then moving on to the next pile.
No more. I’m going to focus on my unifying theme, and that means if I fail, it’ll be while I’m staring, front and center, at the thing I’m working on. Working on what matters most to me right now means I will focus energy, and I will remove the opportunity to hide in all the other things I’m doing.
Hobbies are still Okay
I’m not suggesting you kill all your hobbies. You do need something of a distraction from your every day life and career. It’s just part of what we need to do as humans. But HOW MANY hobbies do you have? How much time is invested in things not related to your life? Look at that in your budget, too.
Finding Your Focus
In my case, I’ve been chomping on this for days. For the near future, I’ve chosen to make my focus building (and helping others build) communities and marketplaces. (My definition of both: communities are like-minded people gathering, and marketplaces are places where merchants can offer products and services). In the community realm are my events like PodCamp. In the marketplace realm are my events like Video on the Net. I think both experiences tie to the same skill sets, with the only exception being that Camps don’t exactly focus on making money and the professional events do.
How will you find your focus? Well, if I could write 700 separate posts, I could probably answer your personal needs. I can tell you some things to consider in doing so, and this again is only if you agree and consider that maybe you’ve got too many Jacks in your card deck.
- What am I doing that’s just a habit? Can I kill it?
- What am I doing for money that’s more effort than it’s worth? Can I kill it?
- Does my day job make me a living?
- If I have a dream job, will THAT make me a living, too?
- What are my hobbies? How much time are they consuming?
- How can I develop the core skills I need to focus more on one calling?
- How do I say no to more things and more people?
- How can I check in on myself to make sure I’m focused?
I’m not suggesting this is easy. I’m not saying that everyone has to quit being a Jack of All Trades. I am saying, however, that I’ve declared today, June 4th, as the day I realized I need to pick a focus and dive in all the way.
Where are you in this? What’s your take? Does this make sense?
Photo credit, AuntieP