January is the month for goal setting and this post on how to manage multiple goals at once is dedicated to a specific set of the population. If any of the following rings true for you, keep reading because I’ve got the answers you never knew you needed!
Are you someone who dabbles in a little bit of everything? Do you have such varied interests that people raise their eyebrows a bit when you describe them all?
Maybe you switch careers and hobbies like you switch your socks because you become bored so easily. Or maybe you have given up hope of ever making significant progress in any one area.
You long to just find that “one thing” you were meant to be and do but somehow it always evades you. Each new thing you try promises to be that “one thing” but it never really pans out that way.
And the thought of sticking with one career for an entire lifetime terrifies you.
If any of this sounds familiar, first know that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. There’s actually immense value in having wide-ranging interests in today’s world. Your perspective is unique and worthy of celebration!
And understanding how to manage multiple goals simultaneously requires an understanding of just how valuable you are.
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Why Having Multiple Interests is a Strength
Have you ever heard the term “multipotentialite?” The term describes someone who has multiple interests across a wide range of topics. Up until several weeks ago when I stumbled across this life-changing book, I had no idea this was even a thing.
I thought there was something wrong with me because I could never stick with one thing for very long. My first undergraduate degree (yes, I have two) was a long and winding road which has essentially nothing to do with my current career.
And my hobbies which range from dressage to piano to quilting also offer unprecedented diversity. If you’re interested in hearing more about my story, make sure to check out last week’s post!
But after reading this book, I have come to realize that having multiple interests offers huge advantages. The first is that having multiple interests means you’ve mastered the art of being a beginner. Because you’ve started so many different things, you’re completely unafraid to try new things. This also means that you’re open to new experiences and most importantly, ways of thinking.
The second advantage of having multiple interests is that you’re able to draw on diverse background knowledge to solve problems. Your perspective is entirely unique which means you’re not stuck in the rut of thinking which traps many specialists. And by “specialist” I mean someone who sticks to one career or hobby and hones it deeply instead of the “generalist” who tries everything.
The third advantage is that having multiple interests is the mark of intelligence. It’s a sign that you’re curious and interested in the world around you. You desperately want to learn new things and grow as a person.
But with the strengths also come challenges. One of the biggest being how to manage multiple goals simultaneously.
Why It’s Difficult to Manage Multiple Goals
At first glance, it may seem as if the ability to manage multiple goals at once is easy if you also have multiple interests. And for some multipotentialites, goal attainment may be fairly simple and straightforward.
But for others, learning how to manage multiple goals at one time is a learned skill. Without this skill, you could easily resign yourself to the fact that there’s too much on your plate and you should just quit everything.
You may also feel that because you are doing so much, excelling in any one area is completely unattainable and therefore not worth your time.
Or maybe you feel overwhelmed by the amount of time required to make progress in any of your areas of interest.
Maybe you’ve abandoned interests in the past for these or any number of other perfectly legitimate reasons. Achieving goals is tough, even for people who set their sights on only one thing over an entire lifetime. It’s especially tough for those of us who have seemingly conflicting aspirations.
But time, overwhelm, perfectionism, and a range of other reasons don’t have to hold you back any longer. Remember that multiple interest advantage about being open to new ways of thinking? You’ve already mastered it and are well-equipped to change your mind set about your ability to manage multiple goals! Let’s get started!
I think sometimes we have a tendency to think that because we have all these interests, we MUST do each of them daily. I’m here to tell you that if you’re anything like me, doing everything every single day would be IMPOSSIBLE.
Give up the pipe dream that you can do ALL THE THINGS on all the days. It’s not only a lie but it’s a fast track to burnout. And if you’re burned out, being your awesome self is impossible. You (and the world!) deserve more.
Learn to flip the narrative around by looking at your time from a larger perspective. Instead of pursuing your interests on a daily basis, consider mapping out a week or a month at a time. Sit down and carve out chunks of time for all those interests in advance.
Dividing your interests up also offers the benefit of rotation and thereby decreases the risk that you will easily become bored. It’s a win-win all around!
In line with pacing yourself is the vital concept of prioritization. There will be times when one particular interest is more important or relevant than at others.
Learn to become flexible and follow your intuition.
Both pacing and prioritization continue to be personally challenging for me but I have learned to accept the fact that I simply can’t do everything. But as long as I fit one of my interests into each day, I consider it a win.
One thing which has helped me with both pacing myself and prioritizing my interests is having a planner. This incredibly useful planner facilitates daily, monthly, and longer term planning involving multiple projects at the same time. And when you’re trying to manage multiple goals, this is the planner for you!
Don’t Fall for the Myth of Immediate Gratification
We live in a world of immediate gratification. The answers to any question you can possibly think of are at your fingertips whether it’s 1 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning.
If you suddenly have the urge to talk to someone you haven’t talked to in years, all you have to do is hit them up on social media.
And if you’re wondering what your favorite celebrity is up to right now, simply consult Instagram.
All this immediate gratification sometimes fools us into thinking that EVERYTHING can and should be immediate. It has us believing that if something takes longer than 5 minutes, it’s not worth our time.
But the truth is that true accomplishment, the kind you feel down to your very core, takes time. And for those of us interested in everything, this is a tough lesson because there may be times we’re tempted to move on rather than put forth more effort.
Sometimes moving on is exactly what you need to do. But there will be other times when sticking with it for the long haul is your calling. Getting clear on your why is usually key in determining whether to keep pressing on or abandon ship.
And when your venture is to manage multiple goals, getting crystal clear on your why is crucial.
When you have multiple interests, the obvious answer to pursuing all of them simultaneously may involve multitasking. After all, doesn’t doing more than one thing at the same time improve efficiency?
As I learned in this book, it actually does not.
Humans are incapable of multitasking. Need proof? Try to keep reading this post while multiplying 362 x 586 in your head. Notice how you really can only focus on one of those tasks at a time?
We actually become more efficient when we focus on only one thing at a time. And the fewer interruptions while we complete the task, the better the outcome and the more efficient we become.
Each distraction shifts your focus away from the task at hand and it takes more time and energy to re-focus than staying honed in on the task in the first place would have taken.
Find ways to protect your time and you will be amazed at how your ability to manage multiple goals at the same time also improves.
Along with becoming indistractable is the idea of batching your time to improve efficiency and thereby your ability to manage multiple goals simultaneously.
Time batching involves doing all similar tasks at the same time and then moving to the next set of similar tasks. A simple example of this would be blocking off an hour of your day to address all email-related tasks instead of responding to each one as they filter in throughout the day.
It may seem counterintuitive but responding to messages as they come in shifts your attention from whatever you were doing before. This means you not only didn’t finish that other task but you require additional time and energy to re-focus after responding to the message.
It also increases the chances that your attention will be drawn even further down a nonproductive rabbit hole. As an example, let’s pretend the email is advertising a sale at your favorite store. The temptation will be to immediately check out just how cheap those jeans you love are.
Pretty soon you’re checking out tops, shoes, and jewelry. Then dresses and skirts. And then you realize it’s been an hour and you’ve made zero progress on whatever you were doing before that email hit your inbox.
Been there, done that. Which is why I now batch my time and have seen gigantic improvements in my efficiency and ability to manage multiple goals at the same time.
Other Thoughts on How to Manage Multiple Goals
I simply can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of embracing all that comes with having multiple interests. There’s a freedom which comes with knowing it’s completely normal to have wide-ranging interests. Not only is it normal but there are incredible benefits to being a generalist rather than a specialist.
Give yourself the gift of flexibility. Know that your interests will shift more rapidly than those of specialists and that’s ok. You may find that there are certain interests which stay relatively stable over time while others change quickly.
And that’s ok too.
Keep exploring, learning, and growing. Avoid rigid time frames for your goals because this only contributes to frustration and stalled progress when deadlines are not met, especially when you have multiple goals and interests.
Never underestimate the value of being able to apply what you’ve learned in one area to another. You never know how what you’re doing now will benefit you or others in the future.
Your contribution is unique, amazing, and worthy of sharing with others!
It’s Your Turn
I truly hope you found this post inspirational and are more motivated than ever to manage multiple goals simultaneously! Remember that there are so many other people out there who are also torn by having multiple interests and that it’s not only completely normal but a desirable quality to have.
Learning how to maximize this quality in yourself takes time but is well worth the effort. This book was pivotal for me and completely revolutionized my outlook on having multiple interests. If you’ve never read it but this post struck something inside, I highly recommend you read it!
And for a high quality planner which supports the unique needs of someone who has multiple interests, check out this one.
Lastly, you can improve your ability to manage multiple goals by reading this book.
And as always, I’d love to hear your perspective on this post and whether you have tips for how to manage multiple goals at the same time. Until next time, stay safe, healthy, and motivated to be the best version of yourself!