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My answer to a Quora question: How do I prepare my long term plan if I want to become a psychologist, philosopher, writer, motivational speaker, music composer, and audio engineer?

Recently, I received a request to answer the question, “How do I prepare my long term plan if I want to become a psychologist, philosopher, writer, motivational speaker, music composer, and audio engineer?” on Quora. Since I haven’t blogged on the topic of aspiring to professionally “wear many hats,”I thought I’d share my consideration of the issues this brings up as it is generally easier to rise through the ranks by specializing in one area. Here’s my answer:

It sounds like you’re aspiring to “wear many hats” or, in other words, become a Renaissance Man or polymath. I think it’ll be difficult for someone to come up with a specific plan on how to accomplish all of this. Your aspiration is certainly ambitious but I won’t say it’s impossible. There’s much I don’t know about you, such as your aptitude (how quickly and easily you process information and learn, if you’re naturally talented in some of these areas, etc.) and what resources and opportunities are at your disposal. So it’s impossible to gauge how difficult this goal is for you and how you should proceed.

However, there’s a reason people are often told to pick one thing and focus on accomplishing that to the exclusion of others. Most people seem to do better by keeping their life plan simple, knowing that following one single career path allows them to progress and climb to the top more efficiently. Generally speaking, those attempting to excel in many areas simultaneously, unless especially gifted, will be outdone by specialists (who focus on one area) in terms of knowledge base comprehensiveness. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any rewards or advantages associated with endeavoring to excel in multiple areas.

Some of us enjoy the intellectual stimulation that comes with working in multiple areas. That’s how I am, and this resulted from (1.) constantly changing my mind about what to pursue AND (2.) sometimes working in different areas simultaneously because focusing on just one thing feels narrow and confining to me. Another reward is, when you’ve progressed enough (such that you’ve achieved deep mastery and aren’t a “dabbler”), you reap the benefits of being able to creatively cross-pollinate knowledge and ideas from different areas.

Though I don’t have a specific plan that addresses your goals, I figured the next best thing is to mention the type of sacrifice and hardship you might face as well as the intellectual rewards and professional advantages that might come later for you compared to those who chose to focus on one area. These are worth thinking about in deciding if this goal is really what you want.

I invite my readers to submit their opinion or experience on this subject. What are your thoughts on this matter?

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2 responses to “My answer to a Quora question: How do I prepare my long term plan if I want to become a psychologist, philosopher, writer, motivational speaker, music composer, and audio engineer?

  1. Thomas Anger March 30, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    That’s an ambitious set of goals. Is it realistic for the person who asked the question? To become proficient in all of those fields requires strong quantitative and verbal skills, huge investments in time, and unflagging determination. The first hurdle is to see whether the goal is realistic by assessing one’s quantitative and verbal skills. It has been a long time since I took my GREs, but when I did, there were separate scores for each type of skill. If the person knows his quantitative and verbal percentile rankings from GREs or similar tests, he will have a good idea of whether he has the raw ability on which to build. I’m not suggesting that there’s a cutoff point, but someone who scores above the 90th percentile on both quantitative and verbal tests might have the requisite ability; someone who scores above the 90th percentile on one kind of test but well below that on the other kind of test should think twice about setting his sights so high, or so wide.

    • LP March 31, 2018 at 12:59 am

      Yeah, I agree. This was a question from someone in India, and so there were unknown factors such as what the standards, rigor, and expense of pursuing all these programs are in India. There are Indians on Quora who’re 19 and taking entrance exams for medical school, for example.

      As for the person asking this question, I couldn’t gauge his abilities from his answer feed (his writing) on Quora. He said he wanted to be a writer, but there wasn’t a whole lot of writing there. Taking the neutral tone was probably the best response because he was hellbent on these goals. Sometimes I find that when you tell people”no,” they gear up to pursue whatever it is you’re trying to warn them against even more. In any case, this person is young and real life experiences will be instructive for him.

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