Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
– English Idiom
All right, so let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. ¬†That quote was crap. ¬†I know it. ¬†You know it. ¬†(And if you find a better quote about diversification, e-mail me or leave it in the comments and I’ll update it!)
I’m going to venture into territory I’m not overly experienced with here, (Read: Have not been practicing for more than a year but thus-far it has been effective and I believe it’s an understated habit of successful people.
What I’ve noticed with successful people and what has brought me quite a lot of meaning, joy and success in my own life recently is diversification.¬† I realize that diversification is the type of term you expect to hear from a financial advisor and not this website, but hear me out.¬† I promise this won’t be a boring seminar.
Everyone has their ultimate ‘dream’ or life-goal, even if they aren’t in touch with it and have settled for something else. ¬†Following that dream and doing everything within your power to achieve that life goal is something I’ve devoted a lot of time to on this site. ¬†Consequently I may have led many people to believe that they should devote everything they have towards achieving that goal– which implies that you should drop everything else and keep your eyes on the prize.
I wrote about following your dreams in a focused way because at the time, that’s what I was doing. ¬†For a while that felt like it was the right thing to do, and it was the right thing to do¬†because it was a step forward from what I was doing towards working towards my dream: Nothing.
But eventually it occurred to me that while success can be achieved through working towards a solitary goal and abandoning everything else, it’s much easier to achieve if you work towards many goals all at once. ¬†It’s also a great way to make money.
My dream is to write fiction and be a professional Author. ¬†If you’ve ever watched the show Castle, the protagonist, appropriately named ‘Castle’ is exactly what I’m talking about, only with less show-boating and with my books being sci-fi instead of crime dramas. ¬†I love coming up with ideas, characters and stories, planning them out and then finally writing it, so my dream of becoming a full time novelist is near and dear to my heart.
At first I thought it wouldn’t be long until I broke into the publishing industry and started getting my work out there, but that was not the case. ¬†Getting a novel published takes a lot of work, time, research, skill and also a little bit of luck. ¬†Even though I’ve already written a novel and continue to toil away at other books, getting that novel published has been a long and hard endeavour.
Most people’s dreams are that way. ¬†Some people want to be doctors or lawyers, others want to be astronauts or professional athletes, others want to be musicians, artists and others want to own their own business. ¬† All of these things have one thing in common that my dream also shares: ¬†They require a lot of time and a lot of work before they pay off; (Sometimes at all. ¬†In the case of writing you spend all your time writing your book before you see a cent. ¬†In the case of becoming a doctor you’re actually incurring debt before you get anything!) but when they do pay off, they pay big.
So if all you have while you work towards your dream is that dream you can find yourself on some hard times. ¬†Most of us will do something we don’t like to earn a living while we’re waiting for our dreams to come to fruition. ¬†That gives us two things: One we like but are also frustrated with because it’s taking so long, and one we don’t like at all but that we need to survive. ¬†It’s not a good situation to be in and it certainly doesn’t motivate you into giving your best work when you’re working towards your goal.
Here’s the key: ¬†Stick your finger in too many pies. ¬†Well, okay, not too many. ¬†There is a reason that’s an idiom. ¬†But feel free to get your finger covered in fruity goodness is all I’m saying. ¬†It’s really important to stay focused on your dream and to work towards that every day, but you can also do other things.
In my case, I find other avenues to write rather than just putting all my eggs into writing novels. ¬†I write all the articles on this website, I write on another website, I take pictures and maintain a Flickr account, I repair computers and I work a day job. ¬†All of these things have a monetary potential and a lot of them would allow me to be self-employed if they ever grew. ¬†On top of that stuff, I’m still writing books. ¬†So no matter what happens, I have all these different methods of living a comfortable, self-employed life that I’m working on, so that even if one doesn’t pan out (Or, probably more accurately: Doesn’t pan out quickly.) I have lots of other things I can do.
Putting it Into Action
I’ll be honest with you: ¬†I only recently started diversifying my hobbies/work interests. ¬†It can be ridiculously overwhelming when you think of all the potential there is in each area you decide to pursue but what helps is just taking it one step at a time. ¬†If you have five different interests you want to pursue, even if only one of those is your dream path you can pursue all five. ¬†Tackle one per week, and just do something small one day a week towards each one.
Monday: Hobby 1
Tuesday: Hobby 2
Wednesday: Hobby 3
Thursday: Hobby 4
Friday: Hobby 5
It doesn’t have to be a huge, time consuming amount of work you do each day, but it should be something that moves you closer to whatever your goal is in that area. ¬†It should also be fun. ¬†Pick things you enjoy doing. ¬†If you like playing sports, pick a different sport to play, or start a blog about sports. ¬†Go cover a game for your local newspaper, or take pictures of it.
Finally, do something to work towards your main goal every day. ¬†That way you won’t feel like your side projects are taking away from your progress towards your dream. ¬†You’ll find yourself a lot less frustrated and with a lot more opportunities ¬†knocking on your door. ¬†Diversification isn’t just for money.