At 76 Margaret Atwood was publishing a superhero comic. I’m in my 40’s now, I’ll turn 45 this week in fact, and while I don’t spend a lot of time worrying that I’m not doing enough with my life, it’s comforting to know that in 30 years I could be publishing my first comic book… or something else equally cool that I haven’t done yet!
To those who knew her, apparently her comic series wasn’t a huge surprise as she has always been a fan of the medium. And anyone who delves into her work soon discovers the range is quite impressive. For instance I recently read The Blind Assassin which manages to combine literary fiction, thriller/romance, and science fiction, all in one novel. In case you don’t know, in total, Atwood has published seventeen books of poetry, sixteen novels, ten books of non-fiction, eight collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and one graphic novel, as well as a number of small press editions in poetry and fiction. Yeah, I get that I’m not going to catch up to her even if I started right now instead of creating this blog post.
Recently I was talking with my friend Michelle Urbick about the multidimensional aspects of our businesses. She’s a web designer who also writes about keeping a beautiful home, and in general having sanity and beauty in your life. Her work is so diverse she needs two sites! One for her web wizardry(she designed this beautiful site you’re reading), and another focusing on life balance. When I look at her well-put-together websites I wouldn’t guess she questions how these things all fit together, but I do understand what it’s like. I of course told Michelle about Atwood’s work, and Michelle, being Michelle, encouraged me to write this post.
I have noticed when someone asks what I do and I list off all the things, they tend to seem overwhelmed. Life coach, facilitator with background in organization development, yoga teacher, managing a yoga studio, and a part of my work that I don’t even know how to describe yet which is part meditation and creative visualization, part ritual, and part energy work… yeah okay I hear it. But the thing is, to me it’s all connected; one leads into the other in a way that seems logical and reasonable from inside the situation.
This is, I assume, how it is for everyone. As human beings we don’t do just one thing, or even if we have one specialty like being a writer, we might write many different kinds of things. And yet as Michelle and I were talking about, it can feel like we’re doing it wrong when we can’t sum up what we do in an easy job title, or in a focused press package.
To make matters worse, most of the advice I hear about marketing myself has to do with finding my niche and then playing into it. And I have tried. Without much success, I’ll add, because I work as I live and it doesn’t fit into one neat package on paper even if it makes sense for my life.
Like many people, my career path wasn’t predictable. How could I have known that my interest in meditation would have been important for me professionally? I just thought it would be helpful for my sanity. And when I first began mentioning the notion that the interconnectivity of all things was important to understand if you were going to facilitate, I made people—and by people I mean my business partner at the time—very nervous. Now, years later, I’m hired to be a part of company retreats to lead yoga and—you guessed it—meditation.
Don’t be fooled into thinking I’m going to leave you with a neat package about what I’ve learned or helpful hints on being wildly successfully if you feel like you are constantly trying to figure out what you’ll be when you grow up. In fact I think focusing in on one thing, finding your niche, and marketing to that niche in a clear way is a great idea. If you can do that, you probably should. What I can say is that if you don’t fit into a category, or have developed a lot of interests in your life, you are not alone. You are not doing something wrong. In fact I bet in many ways you feel very satisfied, even if you do confuse people once in a while.