Multi-Hyphenate: The New Normal
Hi, I’m Julia and I’m a career coach - entrepreneur - leader - educator - sommelier - journalist. In other words I’m a self-confessed multi-hyphenate. As more of us are looking for a greater sense of work-life balance let me show you how to master having a career where you can have your cake and eat it too.
Formerly only a trait of the celebrity world, more and more of us are becoming multi-hyphenates within our careers. There are two big shifts that have happened over the millennial generation, the first being that due to the growth of technology, numerous new career paths have opened up and others have shut down, meaning you can’t expect your career path to be a linear life-long service anymore. The second being that many people now actively choose not to stick with one career path, they want variety and flexibility - a career that enables them to have balance, all whilst giving them a sense of purpose and not just a pay-check.
Nurturing a multi-hyphen career
Becoming multi-hyphenate is usually something that comes naturally as you grow in yourself and with your career. What may originally have been your dream role may no longer stretch you in the same way it used to, therefore opening the door for a new challenge. But there’s no reason for you to completely give up all your years of work in one field - the beauty of becoming multi-hyphen is it can often be a way of leveling up your career, without losing the years of experience this provides you. When opportunities come up that are interesting and you’re well placed to pursue, then what’s one extra passion-project thrown in here and there to spice things up a little? Seems like a win-win.
Though the challenge with being a multi-hyphenate is that whilst embracing the gloriousness of freedom, flexibility and variety, you can also end up with a lack of security and clarity - a one way ticket to overwhelm and un-productivity.
If you’re already multi-hyphenate, and you’re looking for a way to navigate your multi-hyphen career then here’s my advice for leveling up:
The key to selling yourself as a multi-hyphenate is to know what your unique proposition offers to the market. Personally, I haven’t always acknowledged the different roles I have, and this led to a lack of direction, in amongst a lot of confusion for myself and my clients. By having a better understanding of yourself and your various different roles, this will help you be able to create a greater sense of focus and direction. Then you can start to fine-tune and position yourself to the audience you’re pitching to work for. For instance now when I talk to my clients about my coaching practice, I don’t bring up any of my other hyphens that aren’t directly relevant to that conversation.
What are your priorities? In order to master being multi-hyphenate you need to have complete clarity over what you offer. If you don’t have this then you’ll first need to map out everything you do, and then decide what your priorities are. You will need to consider what each one of these roles gives you, what the benefits of them are and how they align with your core values. You then need to work out how all these different hats you wear fit together for you, are some inter-reliant or do they all stand alone, for example. By answering these questions it will give you an overview of what projects you’re in the market to accept, so you can respond within a professional and timely manner to anyone reaching out to work with you.
Too many hyphens? One of the critiques of a multi-hyphenate is that there is a tipping point, and you can get to a point where you are spreading yourself and your skills too thin, meaning that you aren’t achieving anything substantial in any area. If you begin to feel overwhelmed then you may need to de-hyphen. By working out what your priorities are, it becomes easier to work out whether you need to drop a hyphen or two, and if so then which one it may need to be. Ask yourself: What percentage of my time would I like to spend on each one? You may have a couple of roles that you realize you just don’t have the time to give each of them the love and attention they need to in order to thrive, in which case it may be time to hit pause and re-visit them at a later date.
One of the main things to remember is by being multi-hyphenate one of your main roles will be ‘entrepreneur’ - whether you choose to outwardly advertise this or not. It’s important therefore to be mindful of the amount of time you work in your business on your passion projects, versus on your business. You need to get out there and sell yourself and your skillset to those who are in the market for your services. This often makes or breaks a successful multi-hyphenate career.
Set yourself up for success
In order to set yourself up for success you need to maintain a sense of self-awareness and discipline throughout your multi-hyphen career. If this all sounds really appealing, but you still aren’t sure where to begin, or whether you have the skills to implement it all then working with a personal coach can be a great way of developing a greater understanding of what unique attributes you have to offer, and how to make it happen. Alongside, the accountability and resilience to really drive projects forwards with pace. What are you waiting for? Get out there, make it happen and enjoy the journey.