by Niall Doherty

A friend tells me she finds her work unfulfilling. She wants to quit and go study medicine. But there’s a problem: she’s already 29 years old, and it will take her a good seven years of study to get the qualifications she needs. It’s too late, she says.

I tell her to look at it like this: Seven years from now she will be 36 years old. She can be that age with her medical qualifications, or she can be that age without them. Either way, those years will pass.

Earlier this week I received the following comment on the blog:

At the age of 56, I quit my corporate job which was sucking the life out of me and returned to school to become a chiropractor! I graduate in about 7 weeks from this unbelieveable journey. People looked at me like I was crazy and I am so excited about my journey!

Comment posted on a CrossFit workout video on YouTube:

These guys are fit and healthy, but they’re mediocre at everything. That’s what generalists are….crossfit = jack of all trades. Why the fuck would anyone strive to be mediocre????

Personally, I really like the idea of being a jack of all trades. You might end up mediocre at many different physical activities, but you win at life. As opposed to the marathon runner who can’t lift a large rock, or the strongman who can’t outrun a three-legged dog.

For most of us, practicing the likes of CrossFit and Parkour is a much better idea than practicing specialist sports/exercise, because you develop a more functional, well-rounded brand of fitness. You’re also far less likely to die of boredom.

You probably know some people who have their futures all mapped out. They’ve already got the spouse and a kid or two. They’ve picked a career and they’re fully committed to it until retirement, can’t imagine themselves doing anything else. They’ll likely excel in that career because they’ll stick to it for tens of thousands of hours.

If you’re anything like me, the very idea of such a life gives you the heebie-jeebies. I personally love the idea of living multiple lives. That is, going from one immersion experience to another. To date I’ve lived the shy life, the social life, the drunk life, the basketball life, the superfan life, the 9-to-5 life, the self-employed life, the travel life, the bachelor life… and on and on.

I love it. I feel like I’m really out there doing and seeing things.

Living multiple lives isn’t for everyone of course, I accept that. Some will criticize if for focusing on breadth rather than depth. But, hey, there’s nothing stopping us from diving deep in many different oceans.

“When people say ‘life is short’. What the fuck? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever fucking does! What can you do that’s longer?” – Billy Connolly

Two points I want to leave you with:

  1. Don’t ever feel that it’s too late to change course and go do what you want to do. If you hate your job, quit. If you your relationship sucks, walk away. It’s never too late to start over.
  2. If the jack-of-all-trades life appeals to you, go for it. Resist anyone telling you that you should pick one thing and stick to it. Try it all, meet everyone, go everywhere. Multiple lives are yours for the taking.
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