Thoughts on The Multi-Hyphen Method, Emma Gannon
A little over two months ago I packed my life into boxes moved out of London back home to my Mum's because I was having and am still having one of those 'what am I doing with my life' moments. The whole word career has already sent me into a slight panic. Other than wanting to be a helicopter when I was two and then a ballerina when I was seven - I've never really had that light bulb moment of oh yeah that's what I want to do. And I know I'm not alone. I have friends who do know what they want to do and do it but there are others who feel the same and we've all just gone along for a few years now wondering what happens next.
You are lead on a path for so long at school, the path get your GCSE's, A-Levels and a Degree and you'll figure it out. Well here I am at twenty-seven, six years after graduating, still figuring it out. I'm lucky in the sense that my Mum still says she doesn't know what she wants to do, all she really wants to do is retire so she can spend more time in the garden! One thing I do know is that I don't really want to wait until I'm past sixty to figure it out. This whole quarter life crisis thing is real but it doesn't go away when you hit twenty-six. It's almost like a hangover that never ends. Anyways I could rant on about how I'm just not thriving at the moment but I won't bore you. The reason the rant starts is because of a wonderful new book that has just come out and that I've recently devoured.
The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon is a wonderfully modern and realistic look at careers today. There are no one line fix your life right now solutions, it is a sophisticated review of where we are in the modern working world, what needs to change, what has changed and how we can all learn and ultimately benefit from it. It breaks down the 9-5 traditional job for life mentality that makes me feel nauseous and talks directly about how technology can allow you to design the job you want. Though this isn't all about work - part of this brilliant book looks at how we can make sure we create the lifestyle we want that includes the work we want to be doing rather than having a brilliant career that leaves no room for living. It questions why does it have to be one or the other - the answer: it doesn't and it's down to you to tailor it to what you seek.
One of the things I love about this book is that I can relate and understand everything Emma is saying. It feels a lot like a good old natter with a friend rather than a career manual. It gets you thinking and it sets out a realistic plan of taking steps towards your dreams not a sacrificial blow your life up in one go plan. This appeals way more. The thinking I can do and I haven't stopped thinking about the possibilities and ideas that have been floating around my head since reading this book. It feels like baby steps and that is good for me.
"A multi-hyphenate career means drawing on the things you find interesting and/or are good at and creating your own career puzzle" Emma Gannon, The Multi-Hyphen Method
I love this idea of a career puzzle, to me this is what I'm after. This isn't fishing but I don't feel like I'm spectacularly great at one thing. You know those people and it starts at school - the ones good at languages or chemistry etc that just have that thing they are good at. I think I'm good at a few things rather than have one outstanding expertise. In work I've often felt that something is lacking as everything is dedicated to this one area. So this is why the idea of a career puzzle makes sense to me. It means you can put together pieces of what you enjoy as well what you may be trained/ have experience in. It also makes the whole starting again thing seem less daunting as I can use what I have experience in as a base line to get started and then work on adding in 'other pieces of the puzzle'.
"It enables you to move on from having one career and instead an overall lifestyle that's unique to you and that you can control" Emma Gannon, The Multi-Hyphen Method
Again this appeals immensely. Being in control. Yes please. For a long time I was stuck at a job, where I learned A LOT, a huge amount, it was my first proper job out of Uni and I felt grateful for that experience but a lot of the time there were huge compromises. Now this is normal in all jobs no matter how starry or glamorous - every job has its bits that we would rather not do. What I'm talking about is when you don't even feel heard anymore and when you feel as if the work you have spent a long time on doesn't really matter as the powers above change it or don't use it. It's a very frustrating place, one I found particularly difficult because I'm a passionate person who wants to care about what they produce and I was stuck in a job where the care had gone. I really didn't give two hoots towards the end. I was most annoyed about how the system had made me this way, I really was pissed off that I had become the one unable to switch off, checking emails late at night, dreading work on Sunday - it wasn't great and I wasn't in control. And that's what I'm working on now.
The practical exercises in the book aren't excessive or patronising. It doesn't make you write down your biggest fears and dreams and leave you anxious with no idea as to what to do with what you've written down. Gannon simply asks you to write down what you would like to be. Now for some it may seem hard but whilst in the depths of this book I was thinking in a different way - it's not what do I want to do and you can only be one thing - I wrote down no less than six different things I would like to be/do. Gannon goes on to say 'you are not your job title' and this mentality makes it all the more digestible. I don't have to be one thing. Simple but effective advice. Some of this I knew and you will know but having someone write it down gives you the ammunition to truly believe in it.
"Don't be afraid to say I don't know where I am going in my career" Emma Gannon, The Multi-Hyphen Method
As you know I've already faced up to this but I wanted to repeat the sentiment to you know you aren't alone. I really really don't know where I am going. When I decided to move out of London I flippantly thought I would just move half way across the world as that would solve my problem. Alas I would still be writing these words half way across the world. I really really want to travel and that's part of what I'm aiming towards but travel itself wasn't going to help me bring clarity to my career - it was just to wonderfully delay the thoughts from coming out of their box. Right now I'm glad I didn't just slope off in an attempt to leave all my troubles behind. It's been hard facing the reality but it needed to happen and I'm so so lucky to have a home to go to face this reality. I think in today's world where comparison has become the demon on our shoulder - it's easy to down on ourselves and believe everyone else has got it together. I certainly don't. I think we should all find comfort in that. It may look good in the photos but what is going on the rest of the time?
Another theme of the book Emma ponders upon is the crippling idea that we need to know what our future holds. One of my favourite quotes from the whole book is "We shouldn't care about the next eight years but the next eight days" For someone who is struggling with the whole what am I going to do with my life question - this is a huge breath of fresh air and I can't stop thinking about it. We do worry so so much about the five year plan but actually do we need one? I'm not going to speak for anyone, I just know that I don't and the idea of not having to create one makes my heart sing. It's always the simple advice that hammers home.
I could prattle on about this book for a long time but I want you to discover it for yourself, whether you are in a job rut or not this book will leave you feeling inspired. Happy Reading lovelies!