In kindergarten, I wanted to be either a tiger or a cowboy-girl. Throughout elementary school and high school, I wanted to be a teacher, a librarian, a writer, a publisher, an actress (despite my crippling fear of public speaking), a website designer, some unnamed profession that would allow me to afford a loft in a New York City high-rise and eat carry out every night because I didn’t want to cook or do dishes. In college, I had no idea what I wanted to be anymore. I think still wanted to be a teacher, but I refused to admit it because it was the expectation whenever I told someone I was majoring in English. Maybe I wanted to be a technical writer. Maybe I wanted to be a translator. Maybe I wanted to do it all but couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work, which is why I wish How to Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick existed back then.
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a familiar question we’re all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don’t.
Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn’t make you a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” Your endless curiosity doesn’t mean you are broken or flaky. What you are is a multipotentialite: someone with many interests and creative pursuits. And that is actually your biggest strength.
How to Be Everything helps you channel your diverse passions and skills to work for you. Based on her popular TED talk, “Why some of us don’t have one true calling”, Emilie Wapnick flips the script on conventional career advice. Instead of suggesting that you specialize, choose a niche or accumulate 10,000 hours of practice in a single area, Wapnick provides a practical framework for building a sustainable life around ALL of your passions.
There is no hiding it. How to Be Everything is a “self-help” book, but it’s not the kind of “self-help” book that you would be embarrassed to admit that you read…and appreciated. It’s full of personality, positivity, brainstorming activities, and challenges to help you put your dreams in motion. The book also presents four different models to help you take control and design your ideal career path that embraces your multipotentiality. Currently, I follow the Einstein Approach; it’s the idea that, for those who require stability, a person chooses a day job that is “good enough” but provides the means to pursue interests after hours– I’m an accountant by day and a book blogger/avid reader/writer/amateur cook/gamer girl/super hero by night. I’d love to take the Slash Approach though, which could mean a having 2…3…4 different jobs but all of them embracing a different aspect of a person’s multipotentiality.
How to Be Everything would make a great gift for someone entering college or someone entering the workforce for the first time because they’re just starting to design their lives and their careers. I would also say this book is great for anyone who feels dissatisfied in their job; maybe it will plant the seeds of change in a person’s life. For me personally though? I’m not sure How to Be Everything influenced my mode of thinking drastically; it was empowering though and validated what I already suspected about myself. At almost-twenty-nine, I follow the Einstein Approach (unintentionally) for a reason. While I wish I could take the Slash Approach to my career, I’m not comfortable with the thought of throwing caution to the wind, sacrificing stability, and changing my career (anytime soon). I’m not sure what Jon and I would have to achieve before I felt comfortable to step back from a job that is “good enough” to pursue a career path that satiates my curiosity and desire for creativity.
Emilie Wapnick is a speaker, career coach, blogger, and community leader. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike.com, where she helps multipotentialites integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Unable to settle on a single path, Emilie studied music, art, film production, and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University in 2011. Emilie is a TED speaker and has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, The Financial Times, The Huffington Post, and Lifehacker. Her TED talk, “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling,” has been viewed over 3.5 million times, and has been translated into 36 languages. She has been hired as a guest speaker and workshop facilitator at universities, high schools, and organizations across the United States and internationally.