How can you do everything?

I want to do everything.

I want to learn photography, make sushi, start a business, write things, meet new people, see places, teach, go on road trips, live in New York City, live in the Pacific Northwest, write another book – you get the idea.

Sometimes this feels exciting and adventurous. But there’s also a lot of stress and pressure in trying to cram so much into one lifetime. And when it comes to my career, I often feel pulled in so many different directions that I don’t know where I’m going. Sometimes it would be nice to focus on one thing for the rest of my life, like Jiro Ono in Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Stand in the same spot, in the same way, every single morning until the simple act of standing becomes art. Being that focused and present sounds nice.

On the other hand, you’ve probably heard the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none,” and someone recently told me the full saying is: “Jack of all trades, master of none, oftentimes better than master of one.”

I’m not sure if this is true, but as a Jack (or Jill?) of all trades, I like the idea. It’s often frustrating to be pulled in different directions. But I think I’d feel worse to never learn photography, never make sushi, never live somewhere else  — never allow myself to dabble — just for the sake of mastering one thing. So how do you do everything and still live in the moment?

4 things to know

(because we hate to love listicles)

  1. The writer Paula Pant says, “you can afford anything but not everything.” I think the same is true for our time. There are so many things to do in life, and not enough time to do them all, but you can still experience quite a bit in one lifetime. How do you want to budget your time? I think I’d take more road trips.

  1. Author Emilie Wapnick built an entire platform on how to help people who feel like Jacks of all trades. She calls it multipotentiality. Listen to her TED Talk about Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling.

  2. I like to think of myself as a multipotentialite, but sometimes I feel torn about it and wish I didn’t want to do so many things. I wrote about this at Emilie’s blog, Puttylike.

  3. I’ve never liked the phrase, “live each day like it’s your last” because it implies you have to beat the clock, and most of us already feel overwhelmed to the point of apathy because we’re so aware of our race against time. Instead, writer and registered nurse Leanne Delle suggests “living each day like it’s your first.”

    She says, “If we live each day full of wonder and appreciation while discovering a genuine sense of joy, I believe that motivation for our truest passion would be more likely to present itself...I would argue that we can deal with day-to-day routine and responsibilities while pursuing our passion. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”

I'm busy just tell me

Okay, maybe you can’t do all the things, but you can do a hell of a lot of things. But if you want to enjoy doing them, it’s probably best to stop trying to beat the clock.

k, now what?

Make an Impossible List.

This interesting take on the standard bucket list comes from entrepreneur Joel Runyon (I first heard about it via Thomas Frank of College Info Geek). It’s an ongoing, always changing list of things you’ll probably never get to in one lifetime, but hey, you never know.

monthly recap

  • I had a great time on Anthony Ongaro’s podcast, Break the Twitch. Listen here.

  • Recovering Workaholics, the podcast I co-created this year, was included in this amazing HuffPost round-up.

  • My friend Alex Webb and I finally launched the Come Write With Us platform to help writers learn the art and business of freelance writing.

  • I wrote about sustainable hotels in this month’s Travel + Leisure, which you can find on newsstands!


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P.S. Theo’s Impossible List includes eating every snack.