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The Generalist or the Expert?

We live in a world where its possible to try and do almost anything...travel is cheap - you can go anywhere in the world you like, want to learn a new language and there's an app, books are cheap or even free online if you want to read the complete work of Dickens. You want to go the gym and be an athlete? Well the gym is just a mile away and relatively affordable. Oh and all the movies and all the TV series and all the munros to climb and musical instruments to play...the options open to us are endless and all available...


Ufortunately this can lead to a feeling we have a duty to make the most of every minute that we must be productive, always growing and learning and moving forward in our career. Life is a constant journey we must be striving forward at each opportunity.


But we can't constantly be racing toward our next goal and trying to do so is exhausting for most of us and leads to feelings of guilt or sadness when we want to just do less. We live in a society were its increasingly pressured and even our leisure time can feel like work with tasks to be ticked off a list.


I think we can instead of this compulsion to do everything consider two options and perhaps choose between them: either be an expert at something and sacrifice all or most other things - give all your attention to the passion you have for movies or tennis. That could be a truly rewarding life and I won't say don't do this but in doing so you have to accept you will never be great at Spanish or learn guitar.


The alternative is to be a generalist - to treat life like a taster menu rather than believing we have to eat everything the chef can cook. This can also be a really rewarding way to live, accepting we will try and be largely mediocre at lots of things. Sometimes we will try things and be truly dreadful at them but the fun in this way of living is in the experience. We can perhaps relax into the experience of just enjoying experimenting with things. not getting too caught up in developing an expertise.


This generalist approach to life seems more joyful to me. It allows you the freedom not to finish a book if you don't like it or to take up a hobby and only pursue it until you either tire of it or something more interesting comes along. It allows you to treat your life as an experiment rather than a fixed rigid game with too many rules.


But don't let me choose which one is right for you - just perhaps try not to do both.

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