This is part 3 of the special series “Discover the Work You Were Born to Do”, by author Nick Williams.

By the end of this article, you will have explored:

  • The essence of the work you were born to do.
  • The idea of being a portfolio worker – or a ‘Renaissance Soul’.

The primary purpose of this section of the series is simple: to help you frame an idea of the work you were born to do. It won’t provide you with a strategy that explains exactly how to go about achieving it – that comes later – but it will help you discover and assimilate an idea of what YOU would most love to be doing in life.

Whatever threshold or frontier you are facing – there are nine ways to discover the work you were born to do – and each can offer insights into the nature of your deeper calling and your own next steps in life.

But before I share with you the ‘nine ways – I want to offer you a couple of ideas that will help to open your mind to new possibilities.

… The first is to think about the essence of the work you were born to do, and the second is to think about your ‘renaissance soul’.

The essence of the work you were born to do

We often think that a certain job will afford us particular experiences, so we focus on securing particular job titles or job descriptions as a means to guarantee particular experiences in our lives.

But here’s another tip.

We can also approach our search for work by exploring what I like to call the essence of the work we were born to do. This means thinking about the work we’d love to do in terms of the qualities and experiences that we want our work to involve.

Here are some examples of this way of thinking that you can affirm for yourself:

  • I want to be more creatively engaged and fulfilled.
  • I want to feel more appreciated.
  • I want more excitement and to feel that my own talents are more utilised.
  • I want to keep learning and growing and developing my skills and talents.
  • I want to feel free to set my own goals and to be in charge of my own time.

If you focus on this level, it will help you to become clearer about the heart of what you’d love to be doing – and then you can start exploring which types of opportunities (jobs/work/self-employment) might give you those experiences.

Are you a Renaissance Soul? Life as a ‘portfolio’ of work and interests

Here’s a liberating thought for you: don’t assume you have to find a single outlet for passion in your work…

… If you do focus on just one thing, you might find yourself saying, ‘Yes, that interests me – but so does this!’ You might find yourself wondering what one thing is going to be big enough to squeeze all of your interests and energy into!

Instead, the outcome of your process could be one of the following:

  1. You find a single grand passion and interest.
  2. You find a single grand passion, with a number of strands to it.
  3. You find a number of disparate passions and interests – all of which draw you.

Each of these outcomes are valid.

There may be a single work you were born to do, or there may be works you were born to do – each with a number of facets. Some people call this a portfolio career or lifestyle, but I prefer the idea that this kind of work marks you out as a ‘renaissance soul’.

It doesn’t mean rushing around, doing six things every day, or being hasty and scattered. Instead, it means creating a working life that allows us to express and utilise all of who we are, our talents, passions and interests.

We can design our portfolio life to give us space and time in which to reflect and in which to start developing new projects, products and services.

Let me give you an example: my own great passion lies in guiding people to discover and create work that is meaningful to them, and then helping them to turn that discovery into successful businesses. But this one great passion is expressed in multiple ways and via other passions of mine: e.g. through writing, speaking, broadcasting, coaching, consulting, teaching and creating products.

… and I combine these activities with yet another passion – travelling – and so I do all of these things in many different places around the world. However, although I love doing all of them some of the time, I wouldn’t want to do any of them every single day!

There are other people I know who have many passions: one client of mine runs a teashop AND teaches English as a foreign language AND also does the calling for folk and country dance festivals. These different activities all relate to aspects of who he is – involving the various passions that inspire him equally – and he would be incomplete without any one of them.

So don’t tyrannise yourself with the belief that you have to devote yourself to one single grand passion or interest in your life.

In the past you may have pressured yourself into conforming and pursuing one passion, squashing others along the way. There is a common belief that being a renaissance soul causes people to lose focus and become a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and master of none. In truth, you might well be a multi-faceted soul with a number of different passions, all of which you love, are interested in, and can succeed with.

So honour all those aspects of yourself.

In time, you may pursue a number of interests simultaneously and establish a number of different income streams (although – obviously – you need to start with just one).

So what are the characteristics of a renaissance soul?

A renaissance soul delights in variety and learns to honour that desire for variety – rather than seeing it as a problem or suffering from the belief that such an approach is in some way dysfunctional.

Other characteristics of renaissance souls include the following:

  1. A renaissance soul enjoys variety and likes to focus on different interests consecutively and sequentially.
  2. A renaissance soul is inspired by possibilities, by learning and growing. He or she likes branching out, evolving and opening up options rather than closing them down.
  3. A renaissance soul frequently wants to move onto something new once she gets good at something, rather than stick with the same old thing.

But you don’t have to be a genius to be a renaissance soul!

In pursuing a variety of passions, you may become good enough at them to generate income from one or all of them; or you may simply express your many interests through a range of activities, volunteering your time and talents in various ways that are meaningful to you.

However, being a renaissance soul is not just about pursuing a diverse set of activities; it is also about recognising and acknowledging the many facets of your identity.

Modern work can often demand a lot of a little of us – we use few of our skills and express the same aspects of ourselves over and over again, while the rest of our potential and ability goes unutilised. A renaissance soul enjoys finding ways of expressing all aspects of themselves.

For example, I know that within me there are many aspects of myself I enjoy expressing. In me, there is an artist, an entrepreneur, a deal maker, a mystic, a poet, a friend and a teacher. I like bringing all those aspects – and more – to my work.

A renaissance soul doesn’t want to leave any aspect of themselves out of their life!

About the Author:

Through his books, and live talks, workshops, personal coaching and on-line learning programmes, Nick has inspired tens of thousands of people to discover the work they were born to do. Nick then helps them to live that either through employment or by being entrepreneurial through their own business. He also helps them develop the wisdom and courage to harness their inspiration, talent and their fears as forces for growth and creativity.