Would you call yourself multi-passionate? Meaning you’re skilled at and interested in a few, maybe many, different pursuits. Maybe you’re like me and love several music and non-music related avenues (ie. composing, teaching, playing, writing, design, business) and can see career potential with all of them.
Do you struggle to decide what to do with the skills you have, which passions to pursue and WHY?
The problem of indecision when you’re multi-passionate is probably one of the biggest blockers to forward momentum in your career and life.
It needs to be defeated!
What Happens When You Can’t Decide
When you fail to make decisions you reside in a perpetual state of uneasiness. The confusion around it causes anxiety, stress and even depression. It fuels discontent and flames the feelings of being out of control of your life.
Not making decisions will be a motivation killer and a roadblock to momentum. Left undealt with will ONLY result in the absence of any real action in our lives.
Fear Of Making A Bad Choice
One compelling reason for NOT making decisions is the fear of making a bad choice. Of potentially spending considerable time and effort on a pursuit that may ultimately not work out. But what really happens to us when we make a bad decision?
Is it really a bad choice?
Let me tell you a little about the story of my life so far. Since I was a child I loved film and wanted to be involved in the film industry. Initially, I wanted to be an actor, then a cinematographer, then a director. Finally, when I finished high school, I realised with all my musical training I should try being a film composer. I then pursued that dream for 15 years.
Until I decided not to pursue it any more.
I didn’t lose interest in the composing but rather the career I had envisioned didn’t turn out the way I had imagined. My circumstances changed (kids) and I questioned my reasons for doing it in the first place.
Initially, I thought I’d wasted years of my life with nothing to show for it. But really, that wasn’t true. I gained immense value from that experience and learnt a lot about myself. But I still struggled for quite a while afterwards trying to decide what to do next. I dabbled in this and I dabbled in that until it came to a point where I HAD to get some clarity around what I was doing.
Now, a few years later, I am pursuing new interests and new passions in my musical life. Do I know where it’s going to lead me? Truthfully, I have absolutely no frigging idea. I have many options before me and I’m navigating my way through the different choices.
However, this time around I want to avoid indecision. I’m focused, I’m purposeful, and most importantly I have clarity over WHY I’m making the choices I’m making.
How To Gain Clarity And Avoid Indecision
First of all, let’s look at the problem around the fear of making the wrong decision.
What will happen if you make a choice and it turns out to be the wrong choice? How will you feel? Frustrated, disappointed, regretful? Probably yeah!
But how does indecision make you feel now? Frustrated, anxious, out of control of your life? Yep!
So either way, you’re going to feel uncomfortable.
Understanding Action vs Inaction
In order to put this into perspective, we need to look at the RESULTS of making a decision vs not making a decision.
#1. ACTION – Making a decision:
You make a choice that you feel good about, perhaps you even make progress in clarifying how to pursue the life you want for yourself. OR, you make the wrong choice and end up with the negative feelings previous discussed.
#2. INACTION – Not making a decision:
You continue to feel uncomfortable, unsatisfied, frustrated. PLUS, you don’t gain any new information to help you clarify your goals. You make zero progress towards creating the life you want.
Not making a decision = no change, no clarity, no results.
Making a decision (even if it’s wrong, you now KNOW it’s wrong and you can cross that choice off your list and have one less thing to clutter up your brain) = change clarity, results
The Deeper Issue
Ok, so we now understand the negative outcomes of indecision. We know that it could be based around a fear of making the wrong choice and we’ve looked at the consequences (ie. lack of results) of doing nothing.
But if we want to truly make a difference in how we make decisions we have to understand where the fear really comes from?
If we dig deeper we’re going to discover the fear is just a symptom of the deeper issue.
The Importance of having a Clear WHY
I believe the root cause of our indecision is not having clarity over why we’re making a decision in the first place. The real reason we’re pursuing these different paths. Your WHY.
The more important work to defeat indecision in the long run, is to knuckle down and figure out your WHY.
Your WHY needs to be persuasive and convincing. It’s not enough to say “that’d be really cool if I could do that” or “I’d love to earn enough money so that I don’t have to work as much”. That’s just not going to cut it.
How to figure out your WHY
Think about the following questions for inspiration:
What are the things that make you feel REALLY enthusiastic?
- Find what motivates you to get you out of bed in the morning with energy? What turns you into a hyper chatterbox when you talk about it with others?
What are the activities where even the boring and mundane aspects are interesting to you?
- Where you take joy in the detail, or you can easily get lost down the rabbit hole of research on the topic.
What are the things you can’t NOT do, or it’s just not an option for you not to do?
- Like feed your kids, pay the mortgage, play the piano.
Where would you love to be in 10 years? Dream big but focus on the fundamental truth of this dream. Not the superficial fluff.
- Like winning an Oscar for best film score should really be at its core a dream about having a successful career as a composer, because composing gets you out of bed in the morning – not because you want to walk the red carpet and receive accolades. Ahem, been there!
I’ll give you my example.
My WHY now is: I want to be useful and add value to people’s lives and create a life that allows me to spend quality time with my family.
This may seem ambiguous to some but to me, it’s very strong. Being useful and creating value is something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was composing film music, I often thought of this as creating value to the film, for the director and for the audience. But over the years I felt it lacked impact, it lacked importance, it was transient and short-lived.
When I discovered my WHY it was like a lightning bolt. My enthusiasm, determination, and productivity tripled.
Now, I don’t necessarily know the HOW yet, but now that I have my WHY, I believe the HOW will sort itself out over time, and as I apply this thinking to my teaching, my playing, my creative outlets and my business.
What To Do When You Don’t Have Your WHY, Yet
We don’t always get to the heart of our WHY’s straight away. It can take time. Even years to figure it out. And of course, it can absolutely change as well. But we’ll never work anything out if we don’t make a start.
So in the meantime simply choose an option and follow it for a predetermined set amount of time. Say for 3 months. Setting a clear deadline is really important because if the deadline is open-ended you’ll just remain in indecision land.
The mission here is NOT to simply give it a go, to “try it out”, or “test the waters”. You’ve got to go all-in on that thing with focus. Otherwise, you won’t get a clear picture at the other end if it’s the thing you should be doing.
You can try this plan with a few different ideas at the same time but limit it to a number you can realistically pursue given your available time and energy.
If you’re a multi-passionate musician with a lot of strings to your bow it can be heartwrenching to decide which path to follow. But if you’re tuned into your WHY then really there are no bad choices, only opportunities to learn more about yourself.