Is it Possible to Balance Multiple Careers at the Same Time?
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Recent psychological findings say that multitasking hurts the brain. What it effectively means is all that we have heard about multitasking at work is a myth, not supported by any real research. Reality is, and perhaps has always been, that you can perform well only one thing at a time. So, all the theories about balancing multiple careers at the same time are perhaps concocted. But then, how can some people still pursue multiple things so well simultaneously?
The renowned movie director Satyajit Ray was also one of the most prolific authors of his time, having written short stories, science fiction and detective novels for young adults. Rabindranath Tagore, better known as the poet laureate, was also an astute administrator – he founded and ran the Viswabharati University, the alma mater of the likes of Satyajit Ray and Amartya Sen. How did they manage to play the multiple roles so well all their lives?
The answer is very simple – Passion. If you are passionate about only one thing – you do only that. Your whole life centers around that one thing. You can’t thrive without doing that. It’s like your breaths, your oxygen. Come what may, you can’t stop doing that. But, if you’re equally passionate about hundred things, you do all those, not even realizing you’re doing so many things. You still feel, as though you’re simply breathing, doing only one thing that’s sustaining your life – all the hundred things merge into just one thing. It’s as though, the whole universe has conspired to get all the things done through you and you’re just a medium for execution. And how’s that possible? To explain that perhaps in the best possible way, we may resort to three Urdu words.
The first thing about passion is shiddat, intensity. If you really want to do something, believe in it so strongly, so intensely, that you will transfer the energy within you to each and every particle of the universe; and then the whole universe will conspire to make it happen for you. Whether the movies or writing, Ray would be always driven by the irresistible intensity within him. But then, it wouldn’t be ever that he had two parts of his brain which would do the two things simultaneously. Whenever he would write, his whole self would be immersed into that, forgetting everything else in the world, as though, nothing else existed for him. And it would be the same when he would make his movies. So, effectively, he would never balance the two things. He would always do it serially, one at a time, but with his undivided and whole self, with all his energies – physical, cognitive and psychological.
What’s next? It’s dard, pain. Newton, towards the end of his life, would sit in front of the sea and lament that he was just like a kid, playing with pebbles, while the vast ocean of truth was lying in front of him, unknown to him. As long as this pain of unfulfillness burns within you, you’re possessed by some supernatural power which would drive you, unknowingly, making you do the unthinkable.
And when that happens, you would somehow manage to have all the fursat, leisure, to do everything that is burning within you, making you feel so intensely about it. Anyone else would wonder where from you’re getting so much time to do so many things, or how you’re balancing everything so well. In reality though, you’re not balancing anything. You never feel like that. For you, you’re doing each thing so leisurely, so seamlessly, so untiredly. And when you’re doing that one thing, you’re totally oblivious of everything else, as though you’ve all the time in the world only for that particular “one” thing.
Finally, you need some discipline, to connect the dots, as Steve Jobs would often say. Passion can manifest in numerous ways. You may want to do lot many things. But, you need to sit back, do some homework, be methodical, prioritize things, make a solid plan and implement it in a way so as to channelize your passion in the right direction, towards an outcome.