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Are somebody who tends to get really enamored with hobbies or interests and then you drop it like a hot potato and move on to the next thing? Me too. This can often be called being a “multipotentialite”, or in some cases, it’s ADHD.
When I learned that this was one of the hallmark traits of ADHD, the many years of cycling through interests started to make sense.
Why do we cycle through interests so often?
Well, for those of us who are ADHDers, especially hyperactive type, we have very fast brains. When we are interested in something, our prefrontal cortex lights up and we can’t resist learning or doing this new thing, because have interest-driven brains.
So when we’re interested in something, we learn and absorb it very quickly. We have insatiable curiosity around it and we get a dopamine squirt from engaging in it, so we are driven to learn more and more.
But there comes a point where we have learned everything, we feel like we need to learn and we’ve exhausted that topic. And then, we drop like a hot potato and then move on to the next sparkly thing.
Why Being a Multipotentialite Interest Hopper Is Not a Problem
Having multiple interests or cycling through them faster than normal is neither bad nor good, except for the story that we give it. Often shame creeps in not because we cycle through interests faster than neurotypical people, but we can also be very impulsive with them.
When we’re impulsive, we direct our behaviors in a way that we may regret later. We might buy equipment that we never really use or pay for courses or coaching in an area where we think we’re gonna move into, but we don’t follow through or finish.
So once our interest starts to decline, we start thinking about all of that impulsive behavior that we may have engaged in that we now regret. Then we can start to spiral into shame. And very often that is being accompanied by the people around us who don’t understand this pattern and resent the fact that we have squandered family resources on things we don’t use.
So, what do we do about this?
The first thing is to realize that you are not broken and this pattern is neither good, nor bad, except for the story that you attach to it. Cycling through interests is not a bad thing. Who says we have to stick with all our hobbies? If that was normal, I’d still be playing with Barbies.
The speed by which you burn through an interest, doesn’t make you a good or bad person. But knowing that you have this tendency and being intentional about it will save you money, space in the garage and a lot of fights with your spouse. Now that you have this awareness about yourself, you can manage impulsive behaviors that may not serve you down the line
How to control hobby impulsivity?
Personally, I put boundaries around my interests. When I sense a new obsession starting to bubble up, I promise myself that I will not spend more than a certain amount of dollars on learning about it. So no high ticket chorus, no equipment or anything like that until I’m very sure that this is something that I want to invest more resources in.
How to know if your interests will stand the test of time?
For example, I used to switch jobs an awful lot, mostly because no matter how awesome the job was, they went against a really important value of mine for time freedom and flexibility. I really resent having to show up for things and be present for a certain amount of time when my energy does not align to a nine to five schedule.
Once I realized how important that value of freedom and flexibility was to me, I used it to direct how and when I work.
As a result, I now have a business that really supports that value, and I know that I will be at this for a long time. Many things may change in my business over time, but the core business model will always remain asynchronous and align to the way I like to manage my energy.
So when you adopt new interests and hobbies, take some time to consider what unmet or underserved need it might fulfill. If it does fulfill a need, maybe it’s just a curiosity that you can explore via youtube or podcasts until it passes.
Bottom line, as long as you are being intentional and mindful about your many interests and hobbies you should have zero shame about how many you have, or how long they last, because that is what makes you an interesting person.