Why It's Totally Normal Not To Have One Dream Job

This career coach and speaker explains why one straight career path doesn't have to be your only option.
by Heeseung Kim
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Everyone knows that person who always knew they wanted to be a doctor, a chef, a musician—and look! They're doing it! Meanwhile, you might be cycling through jobs, trying to figure out what it is you really want to do. It's easy to envy the surefootedness of people who have a specialized career in mind and follow their ~true passion~. But what about people who don't have just one passion they want to pursue?

Career coach, speaker, and now-author Emilie Wapnick focuses on the latter group in her new book How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up. The book is catered to people whom Wapnick calls "multipotentialites"—people with a wide variety of interests who "tend to be quite curious and have a much harder time narrowing things into one path"—and aims to help them succeed in a job market that caters to specialists, people who focus on a specific area of interest. 

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"Multipotenialite" is a new word that originates from "multipotentiality," a term used in psychology that refers to people who are capable in many fields. Wapnick says "multipotentialite" applies to someone who is curious and passionate about various subjects, and who isn't necessarily highly skilled in many areas. 

If this sounds like you, you already know that variety is *key* for multipotentialites. But in a specialist-focused world, attaining financial stability while having the freedom to explore your passions can often seem at odds. So how do you get the best of both worlds? Wapnick proposes four work models to help you figure out your career path:

Group hug

In this model, you have one multifaceted job that provides variety within the job's function. This approach works if "you want the thing you do for money to encompass everything, and you like that sense of synchronicity," Wapnick says.

Slash

You have more than one part-time job in the slash model and each job fulfills you in a different way. Wapnick says this approach is good "if you're someone who doesn't necessarily care about combining your interests, and you're happy to have a bunch of part-time, separate revenue streams, and you're also pretty independent and self-directed."

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Einstein

Wapnick named this method after the physicist, whom she says developed his theory of relativity while working full-time as a patent officer. This approach is all about having a good-enough full-time job that pays well enough but doesn't take up all your energy, so you can also have time for a side hustle you love. This approach is for "someone who really likes security, and doesn't need their job to be the end-all and be-all, and is happy with exploring your many passions without having them generate income," Wapnick says.

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Phoenix

The phoenix approach means exploring an industry for months or years, until you feel like you've learned as much as you've wanted to in that industry and are ready to move on to a new industry. Wapnick points out, "Some people really like just building a career in a particular area and don't feel the need to move on for five to 10 years.” When it's time to move on Wapnick recommends focusing on transferrable skills. "When you’re up for a job or you're talking with a potential employer, you need to think of what they're looking for."

While Wapnick defines these four work approaches, she says they're all just starting points: "It's totally possible to be a hybrid or to mix and match." At different points in your life, different work models might appeal to you more—or you might want to follow one, but have to lay down the foundation before it makes sense (aka makes money—you gotta make a living somehow!). 

And if you don't have a dream job yet, that's fine too. "There are all these messages in our culture to follow your passion and so many people don't know what their passion is," Wapnick says. "I think that it's more helpful to follow your curiosity. Maybe there are a few things that you can pursue for now and see where they go."

Remember CGs, it's OK to have more than one passion!

Follow Heeseung on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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