One Word To Help You Build Your Dream (Or 3 Signs You Might Be a Multipotentialite)

(Today is a guest post from the ever amazing Jim Woods! I hope you love it as much as I did.) 

A couple months ago I came across a word that blew my mind.

This word is multipotentialite.

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking what does that word actually mean?

A multipotentialite is someone who has a lot of different interests. Wikipedia defines multipotentialite as: a term referring to the ability of a person, particularly one of intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields.

This one word may give you tremendous insight into your dream.

How so? Well, to answer that let’s look at the three signs that you may be a multipotentialite:

1. You have a lot of interests—not just one interest—and on the surface they seem disconnected. You may not be sure what to pursue with your dream because you have a list of things that interest you. Instead of just saying, “I want to be a writer,” you might say, ”Well, I like writing, teaching, football and designing websites.”

2. You thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. When you work on something you enjoy, you immerse yourself into it and then a few months later you are ready for a new challenge. You may read a bunch of books about the same topic for a few months and then move on to another topic later.

3. Fear of commitment is a huge driving force. Boredom is the ultimate enemy because a multipotentialite needs variety to thrive. When you find variety, you feel more complete and more satisfied.

For example, I really struggled to call myself a “writer”. I didn’t want to have just that one identity as I assumed it would be very limiting. But now in reality as a writer I spend a lot of time not only writing but also doing research, talking with people, coaching, editing, marketing, reading, thinking and even analyzing story structure in movies or shows.

At this point you may be nodding your head in agreement and realize you are likely a multipotentialite. Here are a few tips about dream building as a multipotentialite:

Be intentional and pay close attention to your interests. If they keep popping up, these are not distractions but rather real interests. Take a strengthsfinder test and even a personality test. Both of those links are absolutely free. As you learn about yourself, you’ll start to grow in leaps and bounds.

Try to connect the dots. This isn’t easy and will definitely take some time, but you can do it. Recurring interests are the best place to start. Journal and set aside time to reflect. There is a very fine line between a hobby and a dream. Sometimes, the two can switch places. An activity you enjoy—whatever you call it—which provides fulfillment is important. You’ll find common themes throughout your story if you pay close attention.

Don’t allow your many interests to turn into excuses. You will still have to focus. Every dream requires hard work you aren’t excited about doing. This is completely natural and part of the process.

Get some support if you really want to move forward. Dream building is not easy. If you want real growth, reach out and get some help. Not just reading, watching videos or spending time online. Get a coach or mentor instead of “winging it.” An outside perspective will help you see what you cannot see. If you are stuck, or need encouragement please contact me; I would be thrilled to help you build your dream.

Do you think you are a multipotentialite? Why?

(For more great work from Jim Woods, follow him on Twitter: @JimWoodsWrites and check out his blog!)

63 Comments
  • David Mike
    Posted at 05:48h, 07 November Reply

    This is very interesting. I am not sure if this describes me though. I tend to be a, one thing at a time, move on to the next thing, kind of guy. I will have to think about this for awhile. I do know that I hate to be bored. Jim, for all the help you have given me in my writing, I want to say thank you!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:13h, 07 November Reply

      Thanks so much for the kind words! I think the “one thing at a time” approach is normal for many. If you change interests a lot–that is a better indicator if you are a multipotentialite–from what I’ve seen. It’s not like this is one size fits all–as each of us is very unique and don’t forget your strengths and personality type.

      I’m so proud of all of your growth!

  • Kari
    Posted at 07:25h, 07 November Reply

    Yes. Yes! YES!! This totally hit the nail on the head! Awesome information to think about! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I’m not the only out there! Love the to-do list too. Thrive on those! Thank you!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 08:25h, 07 November Reply

      Kari, that was my response too! My friend Emilie is the one who introduced me to the word. She has a GREAT site called http://www.puttylike.com which has loads of resources about this topic! So glad to help! You are DEFINITELY not alone!

      • Jeff Goins
        Posted at 22:03h, 10 November Reply

        I was going to recommend that blog to you, Jim. 🙂

  • Dan Erickson
    Posted at 08:21h, 07 November Reply

    Help, I’m one of those multi… ? What was that word again?

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 08:24h, 07 November Reply

      Dan multi-potential-ite. Some may even call it multipod for short. 🙂

      • Joshua Rivers
        Posted at 08:52h, 07 November Reply

        Multipod – sounds like a good name for a podcast! 🙂 There I go again having another brilliant plan to take over the world!

  • Joshua Rivers
    Posted at 08:56h, 07 November Reply

    Thanks, Jim (and Jon for allowing Jim to invade your playground).

    This really describes me. I always struggled when hearing people talk about finding and following one passion. I could never nail it down for more than a few minutes. I am starting to piece some things together and seeing different and better connections between them. For example, I love teaching, writing, and creating websites. I never saw much connection, but through podcasting and blogging (writing) I can teach people how to create and improve their websites! I can also get sucked into a vortex called NaNoWriMo.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:14h, 07 November Reply

      Joshua, I think MANY, MANY artists are multipods. Anyone who is a podcaster, designer, blogger and writer—they are likely a multipod. It’s nice to kind of shine a light on this style of learning and approach isn’t it!

  • Mistie Thompson
    Posted at 09:23h, 07 November Reply

    Hi, my name is Mistie, and I’m a multipotentialite. 🙂 Finally a name for what I thought was just my random assortment of stuff that don’t seem to connect with each other – I love it! Now to follow the steps and figure out how and where my mishmash of interests connect. This might take more than one journal.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:15h, 07 November Reply

      Mistie, take your time and know this isn’t a race. Comparison kills dreams (honestly I’ve tried to self-sabotage myself with this). If you need any help–please feel free to reach out!

  • Eric
    Posted at 09:29h, 07 November Reply

    Wow! I’m a multipod. It makes sense now. Now I’m off the conquer my little part of the world! Thanks Jim, great piece.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:16h, 07 November Reply

      Keep on rocking Eric! I am willing to bet many, many musicians are multipods. So glad to help!

      • Eric
        Posted at 11:24h, 08 November Reply

        I spent a lot of time on puttylike.com yesterday. It’s a great resource and don’t think I’ve scratched the surface.

  • Mike Loomis
    Posted at 09:29h, 07 November Reply

    Holy Cow, Jim – I’ve been diagnosed! (Look, a squirrel!) Great, helpful insights – Thanks!!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:16h, 07 November Reply

      Ha! This is why we get along well Mike. 🙂

  • Pat
    Posted at 10:15h, 07 November Reply

    Jim,
    WOW! I feel like I just had a great counseling session! This is me and I’m OK! I sometimes drive my wife crazy because she is the opposite of me and in our new business, “The Chai Guy,” I can go in many directions and entrepreneurial pursuits. I appreciate the advice; I’ve got some work to do. Thanks!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:18h, 07 November Reply

      Pat, honestly you caught me. I learned this all first hand the hard way and now you see how I like to coach and I sometimes coach in my writing (well actually most of the time). It’s a strength to be a multipotentialite–it’s not a bad thing at all. Isn’t it nice to recognize who you are and how you’re wired?! If I can help in any way–please let me know!

  • Tor Constantino
    Posted at 10:26h, 07 November Reply

    Guilty as charged – thanks for naming my condition. Great post Jim and Jon!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:19h, 07 November Reply

      Thanks so much Tor–you truly are such a great leader!

  • Andrea
    Posted at 10:41h, 07 November Reply

    Oh my goodness! I have felt so disjointed for such a long time and this post…this word has helped me so much! You cannot imagine the stress I have felt having two particular interests that I felt had almost nothing to do with each other, but for which I have such passion and derive such joy in the persuit of. You have given me so much to think about. I feel very validated! Thank you!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:20h, 07 November Reply

      Andrea–I totally know how you feel. So uplifting and encouraging to put a word–a label on it. Take your time–enjoy the ride–and you’ll connect the dots!

  • Steve Nazarian
    Posted at 10:47h, 07 November Reply

    I am definitely a Multipotentialite, but one of the things I’ve found works for me is cleaning out some dreams or interests when they no longer fit. Just like cleaning your closet, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and you’ll make space for new and different interests. I wrote about this process is a post earlier this week: http://www.stevenazarian.com/people/half-my-age-will-be-fine/

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 13:20h, 07 November Reply

      That’s great advice Steve! Don’t be surprised if some “old dreams” come back. Life can be very cyclical and surprising for multipods!

  • Grant Duckworth
    Posted at 14:15h, 07 November Reply

    Multipotentialite, huh? That explains a lot! I just knew there had to be a name for me and ALL of my areas of interest, besides noncommittal! The hardest part about this is not finding a passion but rather figuring out which of my interest can coexist with my professional goals and which ones should be reserved for hobby status.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 16:43h, 07 November Reply

      Grant that is so true! That’s the biggest challenge for sure. Just take your time and follow your gut. You got this! If you need help, just let me know!

  • Revka
    Posted at 15:09h, 07 November Reply

    What a great post, Jim! Yes, I’m a multipotentialite. I love and am good at arranging/composing/performing piano music, writing, web design, and other creative pursuits.

    Until a couple of months ago, my interests did not seem to intersect AT ALL, and I was very conflicted regarding what I really wanted to do. Hope Within the Storm is the perfect synthesis of my interests: I setup and designed the website; write the content; will be selling artwork I create and my existing music as well as recording new music to sell; and have plans for writing curriculum, devotionals, and a book. I love what I’m doing now because I’m doing what I love.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 16:45h, 07 November Reply

      Thanks Revka–sounds line you are on the right track! That is so exciting!!!!

  • Jim Woods
    Posted at 16:47h, 07 November Reply

    Thanks so much! I have a lot of the same interests myself and you know what–it’s totally fine if those interests change!

  • Jessie
    Posted at 20:57h, 07 November Reply

    I’ve just fallen down a rabbit hole – in a good way. And the world is very different down here. And I like it!!

    I don’t know if I can explain how much discovering this word has meant to me, in just the hour since I first read this post! It seems such a simple idea — that it’s ok to have a lot of different interests/dreams/passions. But having a name to put to it, and realising that I’m not alone it, has suddenly made such a difference. Things are crystallising in my brain, and all the lies are being exposed — the thought that I was weird or something was wrong with me or that I’d never really achieve anything worthwhile.

    From reading this, and then going over to Puttylike, and then following this thread I’m picking at, all the false stuff is unravelling and I can already see a much clearer more hopeful future! It’s not that I need to change things in my life so much as realising that my life is legitimate, my dreams are legitimate.

    I’m almost crying with gratitude — thank you for writing this, and thank you Jon for sharing it. It’s amazing how one word can be life changing in a moment.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 21:42h, 07 November Reply

      Jessie–Wow! I had near the same response. I’m actually going to interview Emilie (of Puttylike.com) really soon–do you have any specific questions or problems we could help with?

      So thrilled you left this comment–thanks for sharing it. We’re in this together despite the crazy and overwhelming feelings that like to attack us (all) from time to time.

      • Jessie
        Posted at 18:23h, 11 November Reply

        Hi, sorry about a delayed reply.

        I’m still getting my head around all this new information, so I’m not even sure what my questions are yet!

        But probably my main concern is about how to overcome past disappointment — how to stop feeling like a failure whenever one venture or project doesn’t pan out. It’s both an internal and external thing, this pressure to accomplish, to finish, to achieve. But being a multipotentialite means we often have a lot of things that look incomplete. Even though I *know* it’s not failure, that I have to redefine my definition of success and finishing, it’s still hard. Even time I go to start something new, I feel the tug of doubt, the memory of criticism and judgement — and it holds me back from going all in.

        I’m sure there’s a question in there somewhere! Hope that made sense.

        Thanks so much for responding, and I look forward to the interview!

        • Jim Woods
          Posted at 21:29h, 11 November Reply

          TOTALLY makes sense Jessie. Thanks for your input!

  • Dan from Georgia
    Posted at 02:22h, 08 November Reply

    That’s me!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 21:17h, 08 November Reply

      Right on Dan! What specifically convinced you that you are a multipod?

      • Dan from Georgia
        Posted at 03:08h, 09 November Reply

        Sorry for the late response.

        What convinced me?

        My book collection.

        My music collection.

        My hobbies (mathematics and painting).

        That fear of commitment thing.

        Also point 2 you described above:

        2. You thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills.

        • Dan from Georgia
          Posted at 03:09h, 09 November Reply

          Oh, and the mathematics thing and fear of commitment thing didn’t prevent me from the marriage thing LOL……

          • Jim Woods
            Posted at 21:23h, 11 November

            Love it Dan. Thanks so much for the in depth response!

  • Camilla
    Posted at 10:01h, 08 November Reply

    Yes, Yes, and Yes to all those 3 questions. I think you have just helped me create a new title for myself 🙂 What do you do? I’m a Multipotentialite. That ought to start a few interesting conversations. Great post Jim!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 21:17h, 08 November Reply

      It’s a great icebreaker at parties 😉 haha

  • Jeff Dolan
    Posted at 22:57h, 08 November Reply

    I’ve been using generalist versus specialist but like your word. Thanks for giving people permission to embrace this aspect of themselves. Powerful.

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 20:59h, 09 November Reply

      Good word there but it sounds like a military term 😉 haha. How are you Jeff? Miss seeing you around in Nashville!

      • Jeff Dolan
        Posted at 07:41h, 10 November Reply

        🙂 We miss seeing you as well. I’m working on a narrative sci-fi short film now because … it beat out all the other cool stuff on my multipotentialite list!

  • Kara
    Posted at 05:44h, 09 November Reply

    It’s so lovely when someone else understands. Thank you for your post.

    I accepted awhile back that I was different than others and it was ok. However I also thought I was alone. I’d joke that I was easily distracted by the next shiny thing. However, deep down inside I knew that I was just as passionate about that as I was the other things in my life. I am most certainly a multipod. How do I know?

    Lol currently I am working on a book and two paintings. I am a graphic designer as well as a design teacher, an artist and a writer. Oh and I am quite possibly going to start playing the saxophone again. 🙂 Most people think I am nuts and tell me I don’t have to do so much. They don’t understand that I get bored easily with the same thing every day. From now on I will just point them to this blog post 🙂 Again thank you so much. Now I want to find more multipods to help me take over the world 😉

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 20:59h, 09 November Reply

      Kara that is awesome! Really appreciate that. One thing to keep in mind is that you also define your success–so “finishing” one of those goals may look different to others, but in your mind it is important to finish things in some way. I know as a multipod myself finishing projects—say a book–can be really hard. I guess a nice summary of what I’m saying is don’t let being a multipod become an excuse to just quit things when you shouldn’t quit. Make sense? Thanks again Kara for your thoughts!

  • J. Craig Klope
    Posted at 21:51h, 09 November Reply

    A lot of this hits home, however, I don’t switch interests as much as I keep adding to them. Most everything I was interested in 10 years ago still interests me. I just have more interests than I did then. The problem with this is, it’s more and more difficult to focus on one or two.
    Good job on the blog, btw.

  • Kelsey
    Posted at 08:56h, 10 November Reply

    Awesome stuff as always Jim!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 21:23h, 11 November Reply

      Thanks my friend! Hope you are well!

  • Bret Wortman
    Posted at 10:13h, 10 November Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I think I wept as I read it, and spent the rest of the weekend consuming Puttylike’s content, finally realizing that I wasn’t a flake, there wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with me, and that this was normal for many other people. Without this guest post, I might never have wandered across this information. It’s changed my perspective on my life and on my own business. Thanks, Jim and John!

    Okay, more research to do on this new deep dive…. 😉

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 21:25h, 11 November Reply

      So glad to hear that! I’m actually interviewing Emilie soon–any specific questions you have?

  • Jamie Kocur
    Posted at 05:39h, 11 November Reply

    As always Jim, thanks for the the incrediy wise words.

  • Jennifer Kaufman
    Posted at 06:35h, 11 November Reply

    Great post! As soon as I saw the title I needed to know if you (Jim) knew of puttylike, and I see you do. That site was a breath of fresh air and I have spent so much time on it since. Multipotentialites unite! 🙂

    • Jim
      Posted at 10:39h, 12 November Reply

      Exactly Jennifer! Multipods are taking over 😉 haha

  • shayne
    Posted at 12:04h, 11 November Reply

    Wow. Thanks for posting this. I thought there was something “wrong” with me, that this inability to focus on one thing was insurmountable personality flaw that would make it nearly impossible for me to succeed in any of my interests. Perhaps there is hope for me. 🙂

    • Jim
      Posted at 10:39h, 12 November Reply

      Shayne, there is NOTHING wrong with you. To assume we all are wired the same–and have only one interest or passion is a very dangerous assumption. You are not remotely alone–I am sure of this!

  • Rebekah
    Posted at 12:43h, 12 November Reply

    Wow I feel like I finally have a name for myself! I’ve always considered myself a kind of jack-of-all-trades person (getting bored easily, jumping from one thing to another, undergrad in biology but now I’m going to seminary…) but I always thought I’d have to shave that down to one area where I could get a job. So happy to know that this is a ‘thing’ and to have found resources to help. Thanks!

    • Jim Woods
      Posted at 14:58h, 13 November Reply

      So very glad to help Rebekah!

  • Ebonita
    Posted at 17:00h, 13 November Reply

    Holy Moly! This is so me! The only name I’ve heard for anything like this is polymath, which didn’t quite seem to fit the bill. I’m also excited to see that there are so many who share the same “quirk” 😀

  • Nancy Brook
    Posted at 21:55h, 13 November Reply

    Such a great post Jim!

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