How To Pursue Lettering When I Want To Do So Many Other Things?

How To Pursue Lettering When I Want To Do So Many Other Things?

You're curious and that's a great thing. Yet, there are more things you could try than what you can really do. There are countries you'll never visit, movies you'll never watch, books you’ll never read, food you'll never taste, dreams you'll never turn into reality. That's a fact we all have to accept. Choice is part of life because life is limited. You can't do everything you want to do, but you can actively choose what you will do.

Being a Jack of all Trades isn't a problem per se. Not everyone wants to become a master at what they do. I'm dead serious: if what you want is to dabble at things you like, without seeking to really improve, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Be my guest and have fun! Now if you want to get good at something, if you want to be known for it, if you dream about making a living from it, being a Jack of all Trades is going to hurt you big time.

Being known for many things is like being known for nothing. People can't handle you being too many things at once.

I know how hard it is to face this fact. Before being a letterer, I've been a developer for years. This is still my day job, how I support my lettering passion, and I still love it very much. When I started promoting myself as a letterer, it was almost impossible for me to accept I needed to stop talking about myself as a developer.

The thing is, I couldn’t ask for people to see me as a letterer and a developer. The ones who follow me for lettering aren't necessarily interested in development and vice versa. I often hear people say things like "well, if people don't want to accept the whole me, that's not people I want to know!" but you have to realize you're asking too much. This may come as a shocker, but people can't be that interested in you, at least not at first. They can't free up enough mental space to welcome you as the complex, beautifully multi-faceted individual you are. You need to make it easy for them to understand what you’re about.

In fact, being a swiss-knife may also be too much to handle even for you. Doing multiple things at once will slow down your progress at all of them. Not may, will. Your own focus capacity is limited, and you’re not allowing yourself to go as deep as you could if you were focusing on only one.

The problem is, when you're learning something new and you get over the honey moon phase, you need to see improvement to stay motivated. If you're doing many things, you're reducing the amount of progress you can make in each individual field and this is likely to make you feel overwhelmed, demotivated, and willing to quit.

I remember a friend of mine who once posted on Facebook "I want to draw!", so I told him to just go for it. At this point we're starting to have this back-and-forth conversation in the comments, and we're slowly unveiling the reasons why he isn’t actually doing it instead of talking about it. His problem was that he didn't only want to draw. He wanted to draw, and he also wanted to do music. And he also wanted to do 3D, etc.

"I don’t want to be good at anything, I just want to do many things!" he said.

As I said above, there's nothing wrong with not wanting to become a master at something. But the bigger problem here is that focusing on all the things you want to do is keeping you from starting anything. The choice is paralyzing you. Instead of starting, you’re feeling blocked by the idea of having to give up something else.

Make an exhaustive list of all the things you want to do. Then, start crossing them out one by one. Start with the ones that feel easier to give up. The more you go, the tougher it will be, but don’t stop until there’s only one left.

This is the one. Thinking time is over. Forget about the others for now and go pursue the one.

This is a radical solution, but it’s necessary for you to take action. You have to stop stagnating, you have to stop living in the illusion that not making a choice is a way to keep your options open.

Picking one thing doesn't mean you're saying no to everything else forever. Creative people actually make great use of their other talents to serve their main pursuit. Remember my developer background? It helped me build my lettering website, code my newsletters, automate my social media, and save a lot of money on all sorts of services non tech-savvy people usually pay for. You deciding to no longer promote yourself as something doesn't mean your knowledge is lost forever.

Stop fearing, stop pondering, stop acting like making choices now are irreversibly locking down your future. Life doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are things you crossed out from your list that you will pursue. Maybe, when you’re willing to phase out of the thing you’re pursuing now, you can shift to pursuing a new passion. See your life as a series of seasons, and you can make each of them an incredible adventure.

Image: Emmanuel Sevilla

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