Redefine “having it all”…guest blogger Chris King


As Bella DePaulo says in the last post, having it all might just mean changing your lifestyle to one that accommodates your dreams and wishes—working just enough to pay the bills with plenty of time left over to pursue all the things you love. Today we’ve got Chris King—reigning queen of what she calls the “portfolio career”—a way to make a living that sounds a lot like what Dr. DePaulo describes.

I’ve known Chris King for a couple of decades—and we’ve run into each other in various pockets of our portfolio careers. And as a long-time single-again woman, she’s been an ardent supporter of SWWAN since its inception in 2006. Thanks, Chris.

I know one single mom who flatly rejected the idea of this portfolio idea—a.k.a. self-employment—and then the universe handed her an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. I suspect she will never go back now. So open your mind. If you’ve always had a full-time job (especially one that you hated going to), suspend your belief system about what it means to support yourself and listen along as Chris describes the joys and challenges of the portfolio life.

How to Work Full Time – Part Time … and Love Every Minute
by Chris King

It is believed by career forecasters that before long people who work one full-time job will be in the minority. As management guru Peter Drucker put it, “Corporations once built to last like pyramids are now more like tents – You can’t design your life around a temporary structure.” If you are already a free agent, independent professional, and freelancer, you may already have what I call a “Portfolio Career” – having many different careers rolled into one. In this article I am going to discuss “Portfolio Careers” – what they are, the pros and cons, where to find one, and when to start building one.

What is a “Portfolio Career”? To become a portfolio person, we must stop thinking in terms of having or not having a job. We need to take control of our life, make flexibility our credo, and develop a portfolio of different items, but with a theme. Rather than working for one company, you take on various projects and cultivate several clients. A successful “Portfolio Career” fits together bits of work in our life to form a balanced whole. There are different possibilities and different types of Portfolio Careers which include:

  • Working as an independent contractor for a specified length of time. And, then on to another career!
  • Working full time in one career, and adding on another or more part time careers.
  • Having a variety of part time careers.

Why have a “Portfolio Career”? The pros and cons. I tend to be a bit biased in this area because I have pursued a Portfolio Career for more than eighteen years and love it. During that time I have had as many as nine and as few as three different careers in my portfolio at a time. The pros in my case are the flexibility (one of my strongest values), the variety of working on many different tasks, being able to pursue careers that I love – but don’t pay enough to do full-time, the excitement that accompanies change and taking risks, and having creative control over my future – if I stop loving a career, I can quit because I have enough other careers to sustain me.

The cons are what every free agent, independent professional, and freelancer face: a lack of the stability afforded by a full-time job, paycheck, and benefits; feast and famine – being so busy it is overwhelming to having no set project lined up; having to deal with constant change and continual marketing and networking; and hearing friends and family say, “When are you going to get a real job?”

Where do I find or search for the careers to fill my “Portfolio”? I feel that when we are desperately looking for a career, it is hard to find. But once we have one or two and are exhibiting an attitude and appearance of confidence and professionalism, new career opportunities pop up continually. We just need to be flexible and confident about trying new careers. Areas of opportunity are all around us! Questions to ask yourself are:

  • If employed presently, what part time tasks are now hired out to independent contractors? What would I like to do or learn to do?
  • Is there an idea or ideas that I have for a home-based business, but have felt would not support me full time?
  • What skills and talents do I have that others would pay for?
  • What career(s) would I like to try, if I knew that I wouldn’t have to do it (them) forever or on a full-time basis?

When should I start a “Portfolio Career”? I suggest starting a Portfolio Career the minute you have any dissatisfaction with your present work life (or lack of work life), the minute someone offers you an opportunity (either for pay or for volunteer) that sounds interesting or fascinating, or when there are several career areas you would like to investigate. I don’t suggest taking on many different careers at the same time. My Portfolio Career has grown to include nine different careers over the years (adding and subtracting as a reasonable pace). The key to making the portfolio life work is planning, knowing what you are good at and being able to take risks. (This takes courage and healthy self-esteem.) Fill in any missing parts by volunteering, trying out new areas, taking classes, listening to tapes, researching and being honest with yourself.

To take The ‘Portfolio Career’ Self Test – or Am I Someone Who Would Love to Have One? click HERE

If you have questions or comments, please send me your FEEDBACK. And, if you already have a “Portfolio Career” I would love to read your story.

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