millions of wrongs don't make a right
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how to diversify your life portfolio



 

"Pleasure is none, if not diversified."

John Donne

 

One of the greatest causes of frustration I've encountered in my life is when I put too much weight on one aspect of my life. Whether it's a significant other, a job, or a goal, when you put all of your time, energy, and emotion into one thing, you're bound to be let down at some point. Why? Because one thing can't be your everything. There's a reason that the saying "don't put all of your eggs in one basket" has been around for so long -- it's great advice! As the author of What Happy Women Know wrote, "Your investment counselor would never tell you to invest all your money in a single stock -- nor should you invest all your emotional and creative energy in one person or thing. Instead, diversify, diversify, diversify!" Though I can't always say that I've done that in my own life, I recognize the importance of diversification and how diversifying your life can leave you feeling more fulfilled and less stressed. When you're not focused entirely on one thing, you take the pressure off and you don't feel the need to perfect every aspect of that thing (which is especially important if that "thing" happens to be a "person"). While I'm all for going for your dreams and putting lots of energy into things that matter to you, putting all of your energy towards one person or thing is not healthy.

It's not always easy to diversify the portfolio of your life, especially when you're dealing with things that can be pretty all-encompassing (like children or a very demanding job), but it is possible and it's definitely worth doing. At times it might seem not to make sense. For example, if you really want to achieve a goal, shouldn't you focus all of your energy in that area? No. If you put all of your time and attention in one area of your life two negative things will happen: (1) you'll smother and/or burn out in that area and (2) the other areas of your life will suffer, making you less productive in that area. We need diversification; we need to focus on friends/family/work/fun/etc. Though I'm not a scientist, I'm going to guess that the more you spread out your energy and develop it in different ways, the better you'll be at the things you really want to focus on. The more you diversify your life, the more you'll have to give to the areas that really need your attention. Though this is an area I also need some work on, I've come up with some ideas on how you can diversify your life -- starting today!


How To Diversify Your Life


Try new things. I love to stay at home, snuggled in my apartment, reading books and writing and playing with my dog. I love doing the things I love to do and there's certainly nothing wrong with that, but I also don't open myself up to new opportunities, to the chance to try new things. When I'm invited places, I'll often say no, creating a list in my mind of all of the reasons while it'll probably be a waste of time (yep, there's still some of that negative Eeyore lurking in there...). I love to do the things I love to do and I don't often consider the idea that there may be other things I love to do that I don't even know about... And how will I ever know about them if I don't seek them out (or at least accept opportunities when they come my way)? One of the best ways to diversify your life is to try new things. As my therapist said to me yesterday, "You can do anything once."
 


Meet new people.
Meeting new people is easier than ever with the social media outlets we have these days. Of course, there are plenty of ways to meet new people in person (and doing so involves trying new things, joining or starting groups, or taking on tasks that push you out of your comfort zone), but there are also tons of great ways to meet people online too. Even though I've never met most of the people who read my blog, I feel as if I have met a ton of new people ever since I started writing here. Blogging is a great way to meet people. Also, as I just noted above, joining new groups or taking a class on something you're interested in is a great way to meet new people. Another great way? Be more open. When you meet new people, even in a random setting, consider it a chance to make new friends. You never know where you'll meet your next BFF!


Break out of routines. It's tempting (and easy) to do the same things, day after day after day. Most people find themselves in routines and, while these routines can be comforting at times, they don't necessarily allow us the opportunity to diversify our lives. A great way to create some diversity in your life is to change things up. Always come home and watch TV after work? Instead, invite a friend to dinner. Always stay out super late on the weekends? Try taking a nice off to relax. When you switch things up and break out of your routines, you're likely to find new ways to spend your time. If you're used to going out and instead you stay in, you may uncover things about yourself or your talents that you didn't know were there. By changing the way you do things occasionally, you're opening yourself up to new possibilities -- and new ways to diversify!


Explore new ideas. Not only is it important to diversify what you do, but it's also important to diversify what you think. By exploring new ideas (online, in books, via experiences), you're challenging your mind to think and learn about different things. When you learn about different things, you're likely to come across new ideas or ways of thinking that didn't occur to you before. No matter what you really want to focus on (your kids, your job, your spouse), by learning new ideas, you'll find ways to make those areas of your life better. In addition, you may uncover ideas you'd like to learn more about, passions you never knew you had, or inspiration sparking you to create changes in your life. New ideas are the gateway to diversifying your life. With new ideas in hand, you're likely to find (or create!) many exciting opportunities for yourself.


Visit unique places. We all have our favorites -- favorite restaurant, favorite store, favorite hang out -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that...as long as you change it up once and awhile. I find that I always go to the same places, do the same things, eat the same foods. I do these things because I like to do them, but in all of the repetition I'm probably missing out on some cool things I don't even know about. One of the best ways to diversify your life is to visit new places -- even new places in your own city or town. Ideally, it would be great if we could all travel around the world and see new sites all the time, but that's not always an option. For now, just try out a new restaurant or visit a new store. Even a small thing like going to a friend's house when s/he always comes to yours can create a diverse experience in your life.


Pick up a new hobby.
Picking up a new hobby is a great way to diversify your life and to challenge yourself in new and interesting ways. When your life feels overwhelming and you feel like you don't have time to do what you need to do (let alone start something new!), consider the idea that a new hobby might help you better understand yourself and the things you want to focus on in your life. Picking up a new hobby is also a great way to meet new people and try out new things. Most people have something that they're passionate about or interested in, so go ahead and explore that more. Give yourself permission to take some time to do something new and different, something that will certainly diversify your life. I've recently decided that I'm going to look into digital scrapbooking and I'm looking forward to learning more about it. Pick something that interests you and diversify!


As you've probably recognized by now, diversifying your life's portfolio is pretty important and can have a very positive effect on your life in the long run. It's tempting to put all your eggs in one basket (especially if you really love or are excited about that basket), but it's a lot healthier and more productive to diversify your life. Life's too short to focus only on one thing! I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on diversifying your life...


Do you live a diverse life? If so, how do you do it?
What would you add to the list of ways to diversify your life portfolio?

Comments

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Thanks, Dani. I really needed to hear (read) this today. I'm going through some changes in my life, and they have been affecting me disproportionately negatively (Oh, that's bad English, I know better, but I'm too lazy right now to figure out how to say that more correctly). The reason is, I think, because I've been putting too much energy into two few things, and since they're changing, it's having this huge effect on me.

So, your advice is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks for reading my mind! ;)

I LOVED what you had to say in this post Dani! I love the concept of diversifying one's life "portfolio". I know I'm very bad at that. I'm a man of routine, but I do know that when I step out of my routine, life becomes a bit more colorful and flavorful. Thank you for the reminder to do more things! :)

Cheers,

Dayne
http://www.TheHappySelf.com

This is wonderful advice and insight, Dani! In fact, I am doing this right now with my work life - trying to get out of the office at least once a week for something other than lunch or working out. That's the reason I started my blog - Midday Escapades. You've reminded me I can diversify in other areas of my life, too. Thanks!

"Because one thing can't be your everything." Spot on Dani!

Dani,

I just find this so amazing that at your age you are writing about this stuff! Bravo to you girl! Most of the time, when I read your posts, I feel like I'm talking to my daughter when I comment ;-) Anyway...

I wrote two similar posts - one for my stepmom life on http://thestepmomstoolbox.com/wanted-stepmoms-with-a-bold-life/

and one for my Other side, http://serendipitysmiles.com/2009/09/14/capturing-your-opportunity/

When you have a diversified life, you don't depend on any one thing to define who you are because if that one thing goes missing, you have 9 other things that fill you up. This was a very valuable lesson I learned from a book called "Feel the Fear, Do It Anyway."

xo
Peggy

I used to work at a bar, and when I first started there the manager of it was a small guy who was constantly smiling. He wasn't always happy, but for the most part he was. And he once told me the same thing, and he learned about it from his kung-fu class. When you have such a wide range of things to do, people to see, interests, and just a huge, mosaic sort of life, if one thing doesn't quite work out, there's so many other things to keep focusing on. Doe Deere recently wrote a short article about a mosaic career, having different possible careers and seeing which one works out instead of the linear approach. I really agree with this line of thinking (and as an aquarius I could never settle down with one thing)! Excellent, Dani!

Thanks for this home-run post, Dani! Someone said "the only difference between a rut and a grave is, you can still climb out of a rut." When my daughter recently asked me to join her on a six-month RV tour of the southwest, my first reaction was "but that'll cut short my work here, and who'll do it while I'm gone?" After about three seconds I remembered the rut vs grave quote and said "OK, I'm in!" Didn't take me long to remember I'm always up for an adventure -- and this could be a once-in-a-lifetime one.

I never thought of this as diversifying, but you're absolutely right! And I have to admit, happily, that this blogging world has me entertaining new thoughts and stretching my mental and emotional muscles in new ways. Sure does make for feeling alive!

I'm going to make a mini-posterto remind me: "Dani says, Mix It Up!"

Unfortunately for me, trying new hobbies get in the way of meeting new people. Haha.

-meream

I have to say I love the title. It's close to a little mantra I have around how to diversify your results portfolio. It's more focused on work, but it's the same idea. Don't have all your eggs in one basket, but do have a flagship project, and do invest a bit of your time/energy in innovation/growth/learning.

I'm a fan of visiting unique places and that's where I diversify my portfolio the most.

Hi Dani!
Great suggestions - especially if you feel you are in a rut! I find my interests change with the seasons. I'm more inclined to work on quilts in the winter. In summer I paint out at the lake or write on my laptop on the porch. Writing consumes most of my time but it is totally a choice, I want to. But you are so right with that list! I have a list of things I'd like to try (learning Spanish, working in stained glass) that I hope I actually will get to one of these days.

Jay - So glad to hear that this post resonated with you today! :) I've been in the position you're in right now, putting too much energy into too few things only to feel panicky when they suddenly begin to change. That's one of the reasons it's so important to put your effort into multiple things -- makes change in one area much easier to bear!

Dayne - Thank you! :) I'm so happy to hear that you loved the post. Like you, I love my routines. I don't think there's anything wrong with being that kind of person, but I think we can gain a lot when we try new things and step out of our routines a bit!

Lynn - That's wonderful that you're working on diversifying your life! Blogging is a great way to do that because it allows you to look at the world from a different perspective, share your ideas with others, and meet new people online.

Hilda - Thank you! :) I'm glad you picked up on that line because it really is the key message behind the entire post.

Peggy - It makes me smile to read that because I feel like I'm learning all of this so late and that I've wasted so much time... It's good to know that you think I'm learning it early! :) I'm looking forward to checking out the posts on your sites -- as well as reading that book. I've heard so much about it, but haven't had a chance to pick up a copy yet.

Ia - Great comment! I think it's so true that if you have multiple things going on in your life, you can make each of them more interesting and worthwhile by applying what you learn. What an interesting idea about having a mosaic career... I've never thought about that idea before!

Jeanne - I love that quote! Thanks so much for sharing it here... Never heard it before and it's a great one. It's great to hear that you're up for adventures and for mixing it up. That's a great way to live life -- and blogging is a great way to explore your life adventures from a different angle.

Meream - Haha, yes, that can be a problem at times. You should look for ways to explore the things you're interested in with other people who are also interested in them... Not always easy, but possible!

J.D. - So happy to hear you liked this one a lot. That's really cool that you've used the idea of diversification as well in some of your ideas. It's an important concept and can be applied in so many ways to life. Checking out new places is a great way to diversify and it's awesome that you take advantage of that!

Suzen - Thanks! It's definitely a good idea to diversify if you're feeling like you're in a rut of some sort... Great point about the seasons. I feel the same way; my interests change somewhat depending on the season. I ALWAYS love to read and write but the context of how/where I do those things can differ a lot over a year. Good lunch crossing some of those things off your list! :)

We must be on the same page! I just wrote today about creating my "life classroom." I mostly do it through experiences, reading and writing (of course, there are so many other ways) and you helped me add to them. Thanks Dani!

Hi Dani. This entire post is so full of the most excellent advice. I have a very high level of curiosity and passion for many things, and I thank God for it. You're right about how easily we can burn out in any one area if we live a life with little diversity!

Up with variety!

Karen

It's good be aware of the wash-rinse-and-repeat pattern, and I think that awareness is a powerful first step.

I also like "trying new foods" and "listening to new music" as quick ways to broaden my horizons! They are such visceral ways to get your head in a different space.

Laura - Great minds think alike! I love the idea of a life classroom. Not too long ago I wrote a post along those lines and I found it really rewarding and interesting to write about. I'm glad I could help! :)

Karen - That's so awesome that you're a highly curious person and extend yourself to learn more about things you're passionate about. We definitely burn out if we direct all of our focus in one area so it's great that you have this curious and passionate quality about you!

Hayden - I agree that recognizing the problem (and I love the way you put it here!) is a great first step. Great suggestions about trying new foods and listening to new music. Funny you should mention that because tonight I went out to dinner to one of my favorite spots and ordered my favorite dish and I thought to myself, "If I were taking my own advice from PP today, I'd be ordering something new..." Next time I will!

I've been having the same kind of thinking lately. My life was boring up until recently with no "spices" added to it. I used to work most of the day and spend my time alone at home the other part of the day. I had little friends whom I rarely met. I had no social connections and my life was so boring I developed addictions as coping mechanisms (nothing serious :) I did this for long *long* years. Diversifying our life portfolio gives us depth and more meanings to our lives, I am learning, and makes us see all colors of life as they dress our days with beauty.

Dani, I so much appreciate your post. Thank You!

Hi Dani.

I like the theme of this post. It takes material like this to lead someone to switch gears for a bit. If you eat eggs every morning, you can try eating oatmeal every morning for a few days. If you only read books about animals, reading a business book does quite a bit to refresh your mind about the diversity of topics that are discussed in books.

We forget a lot of the world when we focus on one category of book or people or activities. Our mind benefits greatly from the challenges of newness or change.

At some point when I decided to start running on the beach instead of through streets, it was a great experience, and then I only started running along the beach. Later on, I started running through mountain trails and stopped running on the beach. In this example you can see that the way to stay adaptable is to run through streets, along the beach, and in park trails.

Thanks for the material Dani.

Life is an open mosaic.

Thanks for an important reminder.

Doing the same thing all the time is boring. Putting much weight on one area of life is stifling. You're right, we have to diversify our life. We must discover some aspects about us that needs to be developed. Life is full of possibilities, we only need to explore. :-)

Great reminder...just come back form holiday and it's been on my mind how to freshen up my daily life experience...some great tips I will use.
Thanks Dani
Jen x

Sometimes I wish I had a less diversified life! I have two homes in two different countries - which makes for a lot of travelling but a very diversified life!

deep and humble bows of thanks for this vital reminder, Dani. hope we all have a diversified day~

Dani,

This is one of my favorite posts that you've written. I'm a big fan of diversifying interests. I think that meeting people is one place where people have this notion(especially romantically), that you are doing something wrong by investing time with multiple people. Yet, this is actually quite healthy. I'm a huge fan of hobbies and travel. It's funny when you explore new hobbies you can find new passions that really can change your life.

this resonated with me more than you will ever know. expect an email from me. :) hugs!!

Maz - That's so wonderful that you're learning to diversify your life. It's not always an easy thing to do when we've settled into our ways (no matter how unhealthy those ways might be...), but it's such an important element to making our lives worth living. Best of luck with your life diversification!

Armen - You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed this one. You've added some great suggestions in your comment and brought up an excellent point. To diversify we don't have to make huge, sweeping changes to our lives. Even little things -- like trying a different meal, reading a different book, or taking a different path -- can have a big impact.

Kaushik - Love the comment. It's so true that life is (or should be) like a mosaic. There are so many wonderful things to experience and we hold ourselves back when we don't diversify.

Walter - You're so right. Doing the same things all the time gets pretty darn boring and who wants to have a boring life? Not me! As you said, there are so many possibilities in life and we need to take advantage of them!

Jen - Sometimes going away and coming back is a real eye-opener. When we are returning to the daily grind, we are more aware of our patterns and routines and this makes us more likely to want to spice things up. Good luck thinking of ways to freshen up your daily experiences. I hope the tips help you out!

Ian - Haha, sounds like you have a lot going on! I know what you mean though. Sometimes I wish I could focus entirely on one thing (like my novel) and not have to worry about all of the other aspects of my life, but I think diversifying our lives can have a lot of positive side effects. Though it might seem overwhelming at times, I bet you get a lot out of having such diversity in your life!

Lisa - You're welcome. I hope your day (and life!) is diversified as well. :)

Srinivas - Awesome! I'm so glad you liked it! I completely agree with your comment about how we have this idea that if we have too many people in our lives we're detracting from each relationship, but, in reality, it's very healthy to interact with all types of people on various levels. New hobbies and traveling are great ways to diversify your life and I'm looking forward to doing more of both of those things in the future.

Melita - Yay! :) I'm happy that you really liked this post and I'm really looking forward to receiving your email.

I love love love this post, Dani! I've done all of these things over the past 8 months, slowly, but I have to say that breaking out of a routine is the hardest - especially when your job demands it. Diversify your life in all sorts of things - so easy to say but difficult to do! But essential, because like you write, if something doesn't work out and that's all you've focused on, you're devastated. . . . And don't worry about figuring this all out at your age - I'm almost 32 (!) and still learning about life. (Never married, no children, no longer dating a great guy I admire, still in school - sometimes I feel like I should be 21 instead - and wonder why I didn't learn all of this back then!) . . . However, I hope I never stop learning. More importantly, I hope I continue to have the courage to explore and add new things to my life, all the while changing those things that I learn I don't like.

Thank you so so much for writing this post. The entire time I was reading it I kept thinking Yes Yes Yes. This is really great and timely advice for me. I really love the idea of diversifying your life portfolio.

After reading this post, I decided to sign up for a volleyball league last night. It was something that I have been wanting to do for awhile and I finally decided that it was time to add a little diversity to my routine.

Ash - That's so awesome that you loved the post so much! It means a lot to me! I agree that it's much easier to SAY this than to actually DO it, but it's so, so important. Like you, I hope I never stop learning and growing. Learning is one of my favorite things about life and there's no reason to stop -- no matter what your age! It sounds like you have the right attitude about change and diversifying your life, which is great!

Ellecubed - You're welcome! I'm so glad you agreed with what I wrote here and that it spoke to you. That's awesome that you decided to sign up for something new. I hope it's a lot of fun and that you get a lot out of it! :)

This was an interesting read PP. It occurred to me that I actually do lead a diverse life. Actually, I think at times it's almost too diverse! There's a part of my personality where I love to try new things and have new experiences. In fact, Chris and I have this thing where we'll say, "Another first" when we try something new. For me, this is the spice of life.

There is however a downside; you can easily become "a jack of all trades and master of none" if you're not careful. It really all comes down to that sometimes elusive concept of balance.

Great post Dani - thanks!

Couldn't agree more! I find that some people get really stumped when you ask them what they love to do. Routine is killer! We could all use some diversification to lend interest to our lives. It's as easy as a new recipe sometimes!

Dani,
This is so good for me to read. I know that I can do better at this. And in ways, I definitely am. And then, in other ways, I know I'm slipping up. This is such a good reminder for me to really remember that a bit of diversity is good...

Sometimes when things are going well in one area, we tend to focus more on that, because it becomes "easy". ==> Comfort zone

These are good tips. We should not be afraid to try out new things. It may seem a bit "scary" at first, but as the saying goes... "first step is always the hardest step" :-0)

Hi Dani,

I like to break routines. One of my favorite things to do is to take a different route when I'm going somewhere. I'll take a back street, or in some cases, the busier route. I find it fascinating to see what has changed since I went that way before.

I guess you might say I don't want to be labeled as "predictable". :)

Sami - That's great that you're living a diverse life. I'm sure you get a lot out of trying new experiences. You brought up a great point about living a life that is TOO diverse. I think it's important to have a few important things you focus on, but to also mix it up from time to time. Balance is key!

Michelle - Routine is definitely a killer and you emphasized an important point in your comment... Even small things (like a change in recipe) can make a big difference in how we live our lives.

Lance - Like you, I definitely can do better in this area. I'm working on it, but it's hard sometimes for me to sort of force myself out of my comfort zone. I think recognizing this is a good first step though!

Shamelle - The ease of sticking with one area is something that can be really problematic in the long run, but, as you said, when things are going well, it's hard sometimes NOT to focus all of our energy in one place. I agree with your quote about the first step being the hardest. Once we start taking those first steps to diversify our lives, it becomes much, much easier.

Barbara - That's awesome! It's good to take different routes (I think I even read somewhere that this is good for your brain) and I try to do that as well. It's nice to mix it up and helps to keep things like driving to work seem less boring.

What a cool take on the idea of balancing our lives. You made some great points about the negatives in focusing solely on one area of life, and offered tremendous suggestions for ways to, as you said, diversify. I really liked reading this!

Megan - Thanks! I'm so glad you like it. I definitely think we encounter a lot of negatives when we focus only on one thing in life. It's so important to diversify! :)

Meeting new people can definitely bring more happiness into your life. Great post positively present!

Jonathan - Absolutely! It's hard to reach out and meet new people sometimes, but it really can change things and help increase the diversity and happiness in your life.

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