Career Management

Does the following description sound like you?

  • Enthusiastic with lots of diverse passions and interests
  • Get fascinated with something new, every few days
  • Come up with new, sparky ideas
  • Like starting things, but not finishing them
  • Have a bunch of tabs open on your web browser at any one time (what, just one webpage at a time?)
  • Find the idea of choosing just one career scary, limiting and very stressful

Sound like you? Read on.

For people like the above, who love freedom, possibilities, variety, choosing a just one career may feel a little difficult. No, scrap that, career choice feels like a huge scary decision where you have to kill off all your other options to focus on just one. Death to possibilities? Argh!

I know the above to be true because I am ‘one of you’. After spending too long wavering in indecision, blaming myself for not ‘fitting in’ to a corporate lifestyle, I spent time ‘crafting’ (not ‘finding’) a career that suits this variety-focussed, full-of-ideas, loving-possibilities outlook. Actually, crafting a career where those qualities are a real asset. The journey is not simple, but let me tell you, it is totally worth it.

Three tips for what you can do if you want to do everything:

1) New mantra for the day: not making a decision is a decision:

Do you think that refusing to make a decision between options means you are keeping your options open? Think again.

If not making a decision means you stay at the same unsatisfied place you were in last year, then by refusing to choose a new way forward you have actively chosen to stay in your unsatisfied place, your present situation.

Interesting… out of the millions of possibilities in the world, why would you choose the one that makes you so unhappy you are reading a career change blog? Just a thought.

2) Maybe you don’t have to choose just one thing:

If you are the sort of person described above (think variety, possibility, options, change, starting-but-not-finishing…) then the idea of choosing just one career is scary.

And for good reason! I’m personally hyperventilating at the thought of just one thing for the rest of my life. Ok, deep breath.

People who are successful and satisfied in their careers have chosen a path that makes the most of their natural talents and way of seeing the world.

If your natural talents and ‘way of being’ is in plurality, variety, change, then make sure you create an environment for yourself where these take centre stage, shine, and are an advantage for you. And that might mean crafting your own bespoke portfolio career.

A Portfolio Career means doing several paid activities at the same time. It might involve working part time in an office, and tutoring kids in the afternoons. It could combine corporate consulting, with a cupcake baking business, freelance writing, and running guided walks. Or, as you may be guessing, whatever you want.

This style of career gives you the opportunity to experiment with several types of work at the same time, and you can keep ‘editing’ your portfolio to get the mix that’s right for you.

Importantly, a Portfolio career should not be seen as being in a ‘holding pattern’, doing several less-than-attractive jobs until you find your one true path. A good Portfolio is your true path – and you take responsibility for filling it with things that are right for you.

Only take this route if you are definitely the sort of person described above.

What’s the catch? Simple. No one will ‘hand’ you a portfolio career – you have to be creative to make one for yourself.

Look at your skills and abilities. What have you been paid to do in the past? What skills do you have that you think you could be paid for? Can you spot any growing trend that you think you could tap into? Try some of these out.

Look at various structures for your portfolio – do you want to be fully independent (freelance, working for yourself), or do you want a mix of regular part-time work?

3) Decide on your real criteria:

Whether you want a single career or a portfolio, you need some way of deciding what to do. The secret to this is starting at the beginning.

Forget ideas about deciding on what you might like based on your ‘interests’ and ‘things I am good at’. Let’s go back to the start. ‘Who am I?’ ‘What is most important to me?’ ‘What do I need to be happy?’ These basic questions are surprisingly difficult to answer for many people.

A lot of my clients come to me after spending years tossing around ‘career options’ in their head. So we step back, and spend much time getting these basics sorted before even touching on careers. When you nail down what you really want and what is really important to you, making your choices often becomes much easier – you have a checklist you can use to eliminate some of your options on a genuine ‘me-level’.

Related: How Will a Career Coach Help Your Job Search?

Author: Marianne Cantwell is a Free Range Human, and a career change expert. Be sure to follow her on Twitter @FreeRangeHumans. Image: Shutterstock.


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