Embracing Multiple Interests: Melodee Patterson Interview

Happiness is often a matter of trial and error and for Virtual Assitant Melodee Patterson, that trial and error included many different careers before realizing one lifelong career wasn’t necessary. If the idea of a single career bores you to tears then you’ll definitely want to check out Melodee’s journey…

Melodee PattersonWho: Melodee Patterson of Short-term Solutions
Melodee is a life-long learner who enjoys whatever career she’s involved with at the moment.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I have a tendency to change careers the way most women change their shoes. I’ve been a corn detasseler, sales clerk, factory worker, insurance clerk, desktop publisher, receptionist, molecular biology lab technician, and bioinformatician. I loved each job while I was doing it, but eventually I’d start to get bored. And that made me anxious. Why couldn’t I find my “passion” like other people? Why couldn’t I find that one job that I’d want to do for the rest of my working life? I felt like I had a major commitment issue, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I was tired of doubting myself – of feeling like I needed to fit some societal mold in order to be happy. I needed to find a way to justify what I, and others, considered to be a character flaw.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I was lucky. At just the right moment, I found a book written by Barbara Sher called “Refuse to Choose!” As I started to read, I became more and more excited. Barbara understood! She knew exactly who I was and how difficult it was for me to stick to one career and one goal. She called me a “Scanner” and said that there was nothing wrong with me. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
After reading the first few chapters of the book, I went back to the beginning and started reading again. I highlighted sentences and bookmarked pages with Post-Its. I wrote notes and ideas in a journal. I didn’t stop reading that book until I hit the last page.

Then I thought about all the careers I’d had, what I had learned from each of them, the parts I had enjoyed most and least, and I considered my next step. I now knew that I wasn’t going to settle down to one job, doing the same thing day after day. I started searching the Internet for ideas. And that’s when I discovered the world of Virtual Assistance.

As a Virtual Assistant, I would have my own business, work out of my home, set my own hours, and be constantly learning. It was even considered an “acceptable” career. It was perfect for me.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I’ve suffered from all three of the Someday Syndromes at one time or another. Currently, I’m working on the “I’ll Get Around To It Someday” Syndrome. I have so many projects that I’d like to do, my brain gets overloaded with it all and I shut down and do nothing.

It took me a year of procrastinating before I finally started writing a series of instructional fiction e-books to help others – especially Baby Boomers – become Virtual Assistants. It’s a special project of mine and I love every minute that I spend working on it. So why am I still procrastinating when it comes to writing the rest of the series?

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I decided to involve others in the project to force me to be accountable for completing it. Getting requests for more e-books is also a wonderful incentive.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Reach out to others for help and accountability. If your friends or family don’t “get” you or what you’d like to accomplish, try hiring a life coach to keep you on track. You only get one ride on this carousel, don’t waste it by not even trying to do what’s in your heart.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
Would anyone like to send me on an all-expenses paid trip to Barbara Sher’s Scanner Retreat in Greece?


OK, then – I’d love to hear how others keep themselves from being overwhelmed by new ideas that are constantly popping into their heads. How do you keep track of them all?

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8 thoughts on “Embracing Multiple Interests: Melodee Patterson Interview

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    I have the same problem with the ideas…but a good spreadsheet seems to be working for me right now!
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Photo Essay: The Ultimate Edinburgh Festival Experience =-.

  2. Great interview – and it’s refreshing to see that someone else has so many ideas and “things” they want to try and be – and that we don’t have to conform to just one thing to identify ourselves. I’ve just started using the online tool Backpack to organize my thoughts – but regardless of the tools, I’ve started to think my head is always going to be swimming with new ideas. 🙂
    .-= Laura – The Journal of Cultural Conversation´s last blog ..Writing For Social Change: Empowering Women =-.

  3. Barbara Sher has had a big impact on me as well. I haven’t read “Refuse to Choose” but I loved “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It.” Funny thing, I didn’t deliberately set out to pursue the career I identified while reading the book, but realized several years when I came upon my notes that I was doing exactly that!
    .-= Janet Barclay´s last blog ..Fighting Perfectionism and Breast Cancer =-.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion, Andy. I’ll give spreadsheets a try…

    And I’ll check out Backpack, Laura. I’m always ready to try something new! 🙂

    Isn’t it funny how the subconscious keeps working without your help, Janet? All you have to do is give it the fodder for it to chew on!

  5. I forgot to mention that Springpad is also good for organizing ideas and resources for various projects. Of course, gathering ideas and carrying them out aren’t the same thing…
    .-= Janet Barclay´s last blog ..Fighting Perfectionism and Breast Cancer =-.

  6. Isn’t this timely… Barbara Sher has just launched a new blog called Scanners: Refuse to Choose! (Is anyone else hearing Twilight Zone music?)
    .-= Janet Barclay´s last blog ..Fighting Perfectionism and Breast Cancer =-.

  7. Alex Fayle says:

    Is that a version of the spreadsheet you developed based on the Productivity Marathons post? Glad to hear it’s working if so!

    My head is always swimming with new ideas too. For example yesterday while at dinner I had two ideas about my Vacation and Acccountability Clinics pop into my head and now I have to decide on the priority for them. It’s a challenge have a fertile imagination sometimes! 😉

    {sigh} So many great books to read, so little space in the apartment to store them… Thanks for the blog link for Barbara’s website. I’ll go check that out.

    @Laura & @Janet
    Thanks for the tool resources – what’s the website for Backpack, Laura?

  8. Thanks for the information. I could see me in some of the questions asked. This helped me understand more and realize I am not the only one in these situations.

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