A friend gave me some advice a while ago that she’d heard from her life coach – “If you chase two rabbits at once, you’ll never catch either of them”. She said it had changed her life and once I’d heard it, I could see why. The more I thought about it, the more it started to change mine too. Well, actually, it kind of spun me out. I could see that it made total sense – like, of course if you try and do too much you’ll never focus on one thing enough to do it really really well, but then…well, what was I doing? Is this where I was going wrong in my life by trying to do lots of things instead of just doing one?!
Because, I’ll throw my hands up and admit it, I am a person who tries to do everything. We live in a world of more possibility than ever before, and I live in London, one of the busiest cities in the world with the most going on at any given moment in time! The digital age means we live in a constant state of information and choice overload. Literally at our fingertips we have an endless amount of data, the ability to connect with more people than ever and a constant stream of content from our friends, the news, celebrities and anyone we follow on social media making us feel like we could/should be doing more and more. And yet at the same time, society still tells us that we’re supposed to choose one thing and stick to it – follow the beaten track of school-uni-job, choosing a career and climbing up the ladder. Even the instagram algorithm favours us more if we just post about the same things or genre all the time rather than having variety! My instagram seems doomed to never really be successful because every time I post about something different just because it’s what I’m actually doing or actually interested in I get no likes. Does that mean I’ll never be successful in my career or life just because I like to do lots of different things at once?
But what if I want to try as many things as possible, have as many careers as possible and do as many things as I can in one lifetime? Why can’t I post outfit pics and do yoga, or enjoy posing by a pool in my bikini and climbing mountains in the lake district? And what is at the top of that one-track success ladder anyway? Fulfillment? Or is the real fulfilment in getting as much out of your life as possible, using as much of your time as possible and experiencing as many different things as you can while you can? Why do we think that doing just one thing and is better than doing a little bit of everything, just for the ride? Or just because we like it?
“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt so far about life,
it’s that things will never go to plan“
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the kind of person who’s interested in lots of things, loves to try stuff out, has a tendency to say yes too often, take on too much and generally is always just a bit too busy. Sometimes it can almost seem like having a split personality because I’m equally into so many opposite things! Maybe it’s being a jack of all trades/master of none, or maybe it’s being lucky enough to be good at a lot of different things. I’ve never managed to work it out. Maybe it’s both. To be totally honest, it’s served me pretty well in the past. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt so far about life, it’s that things will never go to plan. Even if you do think you have an idea where you’re going or what you’re doing, chances are something unexpected will come along and change it. So isn’t it better to have other things you like too just incase your first idea doesn’t work out forever?
My first experience of this was when I went to Uni to study music. I always loved music and singing and when it came to Uni I just chose the subject that I enjoyed the most. My future was still a vague ‘what-if’ but I thought maybe I could be a singer. At the end of my first year, I lost my voice and went to the doctors only to find out that I had a hole in my vocal chords that needed to be operated on and would leave me unable to speak, let alone sing for two weeks. After not one but two operations and a year out of study while I recovered properly, it was pretty clear I wasn’t going to be able to carrying on performing. I got through second year by writing essays instead of singing but by third year as you might imagine I wasn’t really enjoying myself, watching my singer friends performing away and wishing I could do the same, and wondering whether this degree was still for me.
Luckily being the chronic multi-tasker and jack-of-all-trades that I am, instead of dossing around during my year out, I started this little thing called blogging and wrote about fashion. I built up my social media and started working with brands, and when I started wondering about getting a job instead of finishing my degree, I was lucky enough that I already knew the social media team at boohoo through my blogging work. Even luckier they happened to need an assistant, so I landed my first job there and started a (totally unplanned) career in Social Media! This was way back when, when social media wasn’t even really a ‘thing’ yet and ‘influencer marketing’ even less so. My random hobby of taking outfit pics in my Uni bedroom led to me finding a career path that I hadn’t even heard of or imagined, building boohoo’s influencer marketing from the ground up and creating a career for myself that 5 years ago wouldn’t have even existed! So I guess you could say that being a person who tried a bit of everything paid off…
And it’s still paying off. After boohoo, I made the leap into freelance and started doing social media for online yoga company Movement for Modern Life, because – surprise surprise – I’d found a love for yoga on the side of my work in fashion and blogging! And now I’ve forged my own business as a Social Media freelancer doing – guess what – a little bit of stuff for a few different brands. I realised that the daily grind of the 9 to 5 wasn’t really the way that my mind worked, so instead I’ve essentially created a life for myself where I can do a little bit of a lot of different things – freelancing, blogging and setting up my own business. Yes, it’s scary to go against the norm and I’ll be honest, it sometimes feels like society is stacked against you to make it work. I had a blip and flipped back into fashion (and full-time work) briefly when I was worried that the grass was greener on the side of ‘normality’ and actually it only worked to make me realise that it just wasn’t for me.
“Just because I’m not working my way up a career ladder it doesn’t mean I’m not going to be successful.
I’m building my own ladder. Even if it never reaches as high, I made it myself instead of climbing somebody else’s.“
Here’s the secret no-one tells you – not doing things the ‘normal’ way doesn’t mean not you’re not doing as well. Not working 9-5 in the same job every day doesn’t equal death, or being broke, or scared. That’s the fear they feed you to keep you on the track they want you on. I realised that when I left my last full-time job. I didn’t have a back-up plan or something to go to, just the strongest feeling that it didn’t have to be like this. It’s had to be that person who goes against the grain, especially in a corporate world, because everyone else is so convinced that the way things are is the way they have to be. Getting out and realising that it’s fine, and you can easily find something else to do is amazingly liberating. Trusting your gut is terrifying, but necessary. Yes, there are still doubts sometimes when you question where you’re going, but I’m learning to trust the feeling that I will get there, wherever that is supposed to be for me. Just because I’m not on a career ladder working my way up doesn’t mean I’m not going to be successful. I’m building my own ladder! Even if it never reaches quite as high, to me it will always be more of a success because I made it myself instead of climbing somebody else’s.
So I’m doing a few different things right now, and I’m happy doing them. But, guess what? I still want to try more. I still want to write a book, travel the world, start my own business, become a yoga teacher. And why can’t I? I still have plenty of time. Should I stop dreaming just because society wants to put me in a box? Or for me to choose one box and stick to it?
“Is it better to do one thing and do it well,
or do lots of things and enjoy them all?”
Yes, maybe I’m chasing too many rabbits. Maybe it does mean I will never properly catch one of them and be what people assume counts as ‘successful’ (which as far as I can see, just means being ‘at the top’ and rolling in the dolla…) But will I be more successful at living a fulfilling life? Maybe the only thing that matters is finding out what, at the end of it all – on your deathbed or whatever it may be – you will think means that you were successful in your life. And then live for that. Maybe for some people that’s money, or sitting at the top of the ladder, but I’ll bet for most it’s probably about making the most of the time you had on this earth collecting as many experiences as you could.
So I guess the questions is – is it better to do one thing and do it well, or do lots of things and enjoy them all? I know which answer I’ve chosen, and what I’ll continue choosing for as long as I can. Here’s to living life the fullest, busiest, most spontaneous, unconventional and varied it can be!