How I Listened to My Heart Even When it Made No Sense

listen to my heart

I was a good kid. I was respectful of my parents and obeyed them. I would rank in the top few in class during school.

I kept friends happy by saying things they would expect me to say. I listened to my dad when he suggested I take up engineering in IT followed by masters in marketing.

I was a good kid.

Or was I?

After graduating from college, I already had a job in hand. I had snagged a gig at one of the biggest banks in the country, and thought that was pretty cool.

My first day at work was supposed to be in August 2004. I had waited longingly for this day – looked forward to their final confirmation of when I was to start. The day finally came, August 24th. I was set to begin my life.

As I entered the huge sky-scrapper, shiny with glass windows and doors, I felt even better. Each step I took toward the room where all the new joiners were to gather, I felt prouder. “Yes, this is my tribe. This is my place,” I thought.

Then something unlikely happened. After 4 hours of orientation by someone from the HR team, I started feeling a little bit nervous. Something felt unsettling. The more I listened to the trainer, the more this unsettling feeling grew.

I felt it in my chest. It grew larger and larger until they announced – “It’s time for lunch”.

Lunch was no usual affair. This was a huge, massive organisation and there were many different queues and mini-outlets. The food court floor could hold thousands of people.

There were fresh fruit baskets, pastries, crepes and what not. It seemed over the top.

“I have to go to the rest room”. I excused myself from our group of wide-eyed, wonder-filled fellow new joiners and rushed toward the ladies room.

As I opened the door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The rest room was impeccably clean (you have to remember this was in Mumbai, India, so when I say impeccably, I mean five-star clean). It had a leather sofa and a lounge-like look.

It was so perfect it felt wrong.

I couldn’t take it. That unsettling feeling grew by the hour. It just wouldn’t go.

When it was time to go home, I vowed I was going to love it tomorrow when the real work begins. Today was just an induction. We hadn’t even seen our real office cubicles yet.

On day two, I hit the elevator button “Floor 9”. I was dressed smartly and tried to look confident. I took a quick look at myself in the mirror, and smiled nervously. It was going to be all OK.

As I entered my “space” I saw two others sharing the bay – a lady dressed in simple Indian wear and a gentleman in formal shirt and pants. I knew they were my immediate team members.

As the day went on, I tried to build a rapport with the two of them. The lady handed me a massive folder and asked me to read it to get an understanding of what I was to do. The gentleman was smiling a little too much whenever I looked at him.

In hindsight, they were good people, overall.

That day, I came home and announced I was never going back.

Was I crazy?

Why would I kick a job that everyone thought was amazing?

Despite the undeniable “amazingness” of this gig, I didn’t feel at comfort. Has that happened with you? You enter into a new business, a new relationship or move into a new house only to get a feeling of something is not right?

There – hold that feeling. I felt the same. Trying to dissect it was futile. It wasn’t until years after ditching that job, I realised why I was not cut out for it.

That five-star setting was going to make it even harder to quit because logic would use it against my heart.

Facing the true self

The number one reason I was not happy with a traditional job setting was this: It didn’t satisfy my core needs of freedom and creativity.

If someone asked me what my passion is, I would be dumbfounded. Not because I don’t know which one it is, but because I would have so many that I’d be confused what to answer.

Having multiple passions is not easy. It’s hard work. You are always pulled in different directions. You want to do this, and you want to do that too. And you want to do it all together.

To someone who is more used to the 9-5 lifestyle, this would sound hokum. And if that is you, more power to you!

But if you can relate with me even at some level here, stay.

Because I want to learn so many things and do so much, my head is always brimming with ideas. It is brewing something new each time I tune into it.

It also takes massive amount of energy. You don’t know which side to go. You are tired of hearing the “gurus” who keep suggesting you go and find one passion.

Yes, it probably is more productive to have one passion but what if you just don’t? What do you do then?

Being the Outlier

I truly feel the world is full of amazing, imaginative people who are doing what they love. At least my world is. The people I encounter, my mentors and the places I hang out online testify this.

They’re creating, building awesome things. I used to look at these people and feel jealous. Why couldn’t I do what they are doing? Why was it so hard to find that friggin’ one thing and stick to it and make a living?

To give you a background, after “quitting” that job I worked on for two days, I found another at a software firm. This one was way better because I could relate to the people, it had flexi-timings (gave me freedom) and there was room for some creativity.

But after a while, it got difficult to drag myself out of bed every morning and go to work. I waited for five years for this feeling to go away, and then I quit.

In late 2009, I embraced the fact that I couldn’t do this anymore. I had to follow my entrepreneurial heart. I started a freelance writing business which is still active today, and never looked back until about 2012, when I had an urge of doing something “more”. That more was studying the deepest secrets of human behaviour, which I did.

Then I wanted to become a trainer and speaker. So I did that. Then I wanted to start a personal development website. Did that too. Now I am into writing ebooks. Soon enough I would have done that too.

You see, every time I was pursuing one of these things, I had one eye on what’s next. It was this persistent urge of what’s more I could learn and contribute toward. My curiosity had no bounds.

I was an outlier in a mob of single-focused, passionate people.

Finding my Real Tribe

If you’ve felt like you have your feet in way too many things but you cannot let go of any of it, you’re finally at the right place, reading the exact thing you’re supposed to be.

For people like you and me, there exists a name. When I discovered this name and that there were others like me, it all made sense.

The term for someone who has so many things going on at once in their lives and they are equally passionate about these is a multipotentialite.

More terms are scanner, multipod, slasher.

You take a pick. It’s all the same.

When I found my real place in the universe, I started building things at an even faster rate. I created websites, helped with marketing, wrote a lot (I mean a LOT – my hands hurt).

I figured a way to combine all my passions (technology, online marketing, personal development, writing, editing, helping people with real life issues, hosting workshops and speaking) and make a living out of it.

Today, I live that life.

The society tells us to do that one thing and master it. It essentially asks us to forget about everything else, or to juggle the other passions during weekends. That’s when you have an executive who lives for just the weekend.

Why would you ever do that?

For me, it hasn’t been an easy ride, but it has been so worth it. How do I know? I know because when I will be sitting on a rocking chair in my late 80’s, I will know this was a life time well spent.

The Rocking Chair Test

Do yourself a favour. Do the rocking test and picture yourself in your favourite rocking chair in your 80’s.

Look back and reflect on what you were doing when you were your present age. How do you feel about it? If there is any form of discomfort, you know what to do.

Really figure out how you can turn things around for better. It is no mumbo-jumbo – it is a way of nature. You cannot get back the moments you are spending on doing meaningless work that doesn’t contribute to your deepest desires.

Every problem has a solution. The problem is, we focus too much on the problem instead of a solution. Make sense?

If you’d like to discuss this further, get in touch. I am always happy to indulge in multipotentialite talks and to help.

Great, now go ahead, build, create and live your life.

Photo by Bhumika Bhatia

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32 thoughts on “How I Listened to My Heart Even When it Made No Sense”

  1. Pooja! Loved this articles. I was sitting in suspense reading it, wanting to know what happens next. I can really relate to this article because it is exactly how I felt when I worked for a fancy transportation agency in New York City’s financial district. Everything “was” perfect. It was the job everyone envied. I never understood why I couldn’t be happy. What was wrong with me? I always thought I had mental issues. Then I found Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose and I realized there were ALOT of people out there with the same problem! Good for you in finding your un-9-5! I am doing that as well. Maybe our paths will intertwine one day. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

    1. Hey Jesicka,

      Thank you for your kind words. And love the fact that you’ve been following you many passions!

      I’m sure our paths will meet :)

      Pooja x

  2. Pooja, thank you for this post! I too left a stable job with a stable income to start my own business in writing services. I have moments of incredible excitement and sheer terror, but as I build my business, I have an energy and enthusiasm that I never had before. Thank you for sharing your story. It showed me that there are others out there who have been through a similar experience.

    1. Hey Jane,

      Thank you for your kind words and lovely to hear you are on your path. Going solo is full of surprises and lessons, and personally I feel the more lessons we learn, the better it is! :)

      Pooja x

  3. Thank you for the great article. I am going to sit down and write from that 80-something year old perspective! What a great idea! How about a Renaisance man or woman, if we must have a label? Slasher, not so much :-).

    1. Hey Cheryl,

      YES! Definitely go ahead and do that. And then, come back to share how you went.

      Yes renaissance man/woman is another title for people like you and me :)

      Pooja x

  4. I always thought I was different too but now I am running a self help type company and I also started my own cleaning business!!!! I am following my dreams finally

  5. I’m also a confused soul. I love reading and thus changed my study from commerce to arts. As I like writing, I’ve decided to study English literature. But now I don’t know if I’ll be able to make a career in that. I like psychology also. But I’m scared about my career.

    1. Hey Nisha,

      I am sorry to hear you’re feeling confused. But when you’re confused, you’re probably onto something… A discovery about yourself, a new direction…What could it be for you?

      Let me know how you go.

      Pooja x

  6. You have described me to a T. In two weeks I am embarking on self-employment after 33 years of working “for the man” and never quite understanding why I didn’t fit in. Now I know that there is a name for people like me, and it’s not lazy!

    1. Wow — the excitement and nervousness of doing it all solo! I can relate.

      I was SO relieved to know I don’t have ADD or next-shiny-object syndrome (although I may STILL have the latter ;))

      Glad you found the post useful.

      Pooja x

  7. I don’t feel as alone after reading this. After 3 or more years of depression and a feeling of uselessness, I am successfully using daily gratitude and meditation to open my life to receiving. My problem is with my job as well. I feel as though it is just my attitude that is making it stressful, if i could just be grateful to have this job and change my attitude all would get better, right. It worked at home wonderfully but not so much at work. Do I need to find another job before I quit or just trust that the right path is waiting for me see it? The mortgage bill will continue to come weather I have a job or a wonderful idea for one. Feeling stuck!

    1. Hey Kim,

      Glad to hear you’re not alone. Gratitude and meditation helps.

      Only you can decide whether you want to stick to your current job or do your own thing. It all depends on your values and needs as a person. What do you value most? Security or variety? Working in a team or going solo? Stable money or creative fulfillment? (although the two can totally co-exist!)

      Make a list of 10 things you value. A value is an emotional state you want to feel on a consistent basis — like love, honesty, integrity, connection etc.

      Then decide whether your job is fulfilling those top 10 values for you and if not, what can you do about it. Unless your values are being met congruently, it is hard to stay happy :)

      Let me know how you go.

      Pooja x

  8. Wow Pooja !!! Wow wow wow wow – Where have you been all this while??
    I feel the same way you have written about . I am torn between finding that one passion amongst so many.. I have labelled myself as
    ADHD, non focussed, easily distracted … when the fact is I am just interested in too many things. I hold a corporate job which makes me feel worse each day … I would love to do what youve done… But i dont know how to go about it yet.. however reading this article first thing in the morn has just given me fresh hope,, I aint alone

    Thanks so much for writing this

    1. Hey Rubina,

      Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I’ve been there too. I personally thought I have the “shiny object syndrome” and that I could not do much about it. How wrong was I!

      Not only can you control how you spend your time but also you can steer the direction on where you’re going.

      Regarding your corporate job — you haven’t been able to quit yet because it is still serving you at some level. What could be the “secondary” gain of staying in the job?

      Let me know.

      Happy to “meet” you :)

      Pooja x

  9. pooja hello!i also have many interests but its kind of more complicated.you see i am 32 and i have 2 degrees ,tourism and pschology ,i have worked as a teacher (tried to combine them) and i love piano!!!now i work as a medical secretary but try to work again in tourism..or stay as a medical secretary but do the same job morning and evening in 2 doctors so earn more money..thats why its more complicated and you need some determination and also luck to earn money doing what you love…not so optimist but grateful for having job.want to improve myself in the career path.

    1. Faith,

      Good on you for still pursuing what you love despite having what it seems a very hectic life. Like Adele said, there’s a fire starting in your heart!

      Only this fire is your passion.

      The question to ask next is: What Do I REALLY want?

      Pooja

  10. Gosh, Pooja – there are so many people who would have carried on life in the corporate world, if only to have some ‘security’. Listening to your heart and following it is tough to do.

    As a fellow writer, I know what is means to have painful hands :-)

    Hats off to you, Pooja.

    – Razwana

  11. This is really nice article! As you said, every time you have been pursuing on one thing, you had eye on what’s next. So is the case with me. I truly appreciate what you said. I can feel your words and i understand the value of words. That is why i have my own blog as well.

  12. Great post. You were brave to make the decision to quit that first job out of college. As a creative, I have also left jobs due to the fit. Now I teach, which is okay. It gives me time and opportunity to write.

  13. Really really awesome article. It was totally me. It was like first time ever someone i saw who thought like me and now i believe that i am not an odd one out or a misfit in this perfect normal world. I felt really happy that there are people who face the same thing i did. Although i am just a student but i know the feeling really much. I used to think what would I do in future if i kept this behavior .Really it was awesome .Thanks a lot! :)

  14. Hey Pooja, I am a journalist at HT (Hindustan Times). I am planning to do a story on multipotentialities. Would like to talk to you. How should I contact you?

  15. Pooja Srinivas

    Hey Pooja !! I found my twin in you! We not only share the same name, but also the discomfort of a 9-5 job. I have been passing through ’bouts’ of depression and most often these are because of the ‘underutilized’ and ‘unrecognized’ feelings that I continue to face at work. I had a different perspective of that ‘role’ but I can totally relate to the ‘struggle’ that you faced while going to work. I think it is time I too bring in a ‘change’.

    I also felt relieved that people like I aren’t aliens :) I just cannot live a ‘stereotypical’ life anymore. I would love to write my book, bake and cook, take pictures and make a food-blog, take care of my children and give them more time and most importantly take a call of quitting my job and being with my husband on his graduation day…

    On the rocking chair I would love to see myself happy and content. I would love to see that I wrote my book and got it published, I would love to see that I did not waste my time too much on wrong people and jobs…..and the list goes on ! Your article is a perfect eye-opener…

    P.S – My husband decided to quit his top-job in China to pursue a one year program that would take him closer to his ‘objective in life’. I decided (albeit against his wishes) to move back with my twins for a year’s time. I did this because I wanted ‘some’ financial security with the job that I took. In the process of gaining that ‘security’, I have become a depressed soul. My husband keeps pushing me to quit my ‘soul-eroding’ job and move with him, I need strength…..Been 9 months already since I have pushed myself too hard…

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