The value of dabbling

There are many ways of answering the question ‘What do you do?’

You can start with your job. You might then expand into your hobby, if that’s something you spend a lot of time on. Oftentimes the way you spend your time is roughly divided into work, social time, home maintenance, and a leisure activity. Most people I speak to have no more than one hobby they do in their free time. And that’s fine, if that’s how you roll.

But today I want to talk about dabbling. Because that’s what I do. I dabble in a multitude of pastimes, avoiding limiting myself. I’m often on the lookout for new skills I can have a go at, new ideas I can contemplate. And for me, it’s very important to have this variety.

A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.

If you only do one thing, you’ll only be looking at the world from one perspective. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be an expert in your chosen field, but many will stop at that, and never venture beyond it. Whereas venturing beyond your usual patterns can hugely enrich your life.

So I dabble. I read articles about things beyond my expertise, and try to look at the world through new eyes. I engage in numerous interests – art, language, science – and pay attention to ideas from each. I have a go at learning different skills, even if I never go beyond the basics. I talk to people about things I’d never given a second thought, and try to discover how they developed those interests and how they shape their lives. I dip my toes into a variety of pools, and gather mementoes to carry with me.

Because quite apart from enriching your very existence, you never know when any of this can come in handy. That extra knowledge, that uncommon skill, that unusual experience. The more you’ve absorbed, the more likely you are to use these things later on in life.

You don’t have to specialize – do everything that you love and then, at some time, the future will come together for you in some form.

— Francis Ford Coppola

What about you – how often do you dabble in things beyond your everyday life?


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