What do you want to be when you grow up was the question that my generation (1970s/80s babies) was asked. Do you want to be a teacher, doctor, firefighter, or even a dancer (By the way, I was obsessed with the TV series Fame and Debbie Allen!)?
In more recent years, I have found myself asking young people: who do you want to be when you grow up? “Find your passion!” But, what if they are passionate and talented in more than one area? What if you are interested in being an electrician, but also have a talent for painting? What if you just graduated with an accounting degree, but love teaching? Can you really have it all?
I believe that the answer is yes! So, I started digging for how.
Charles Handy, an Irish author and philosopher, wrote a book in 1989 called the The Age of Unreason. He is credited with coining the term "portfolio career." I had not heard much about it, and literature/commentary is still emerging. I have gotten accustomed to hearing someone working their main 9-5 and then having a “side hustle.” We also hear of artists and performers waiting tables, dog walking, or cleaning housing as they audition for that next big break. But, this notion of having a mix of employment, jobs, and passion projects is expanding into other areas.
The question then becomes why and how would I even think of pursuing multiple careers or jobs?
Here are some whys
- Flexibility: work in a variety of fields; schedule and pace can be set by you
- Availability: you can set a work/life balance depending on industry and season
- Autonomy: you are not held to a corporation or big business that dictates your time and creativity
- Opportunity: you can use a range of skills, talent, and knowledge
- Reality: your situation through a lay off, firing, or life transition has afforded you the possibility (like me!)
Here is the how
- Build meaningful relationships: some may be with the most unlikely people
- Network with others outside of your industry
- Learn the foundation of self-employment/entrepreneurship.
- Highlight and use what you know; find your niche(s)
- Market, market, market (learn Social Media 101)
- Be smart with budget (don’t forget the basics: food, clothing, shelter, health)
We live in a world that is forever evolving, or as Charles Handy called it, discontinuous change. In addition to equipping our teens with topical knowledge, we need to equip them with those soft skills that can support their passions and allow them to move in and out of various industries and professions.