Don’t want a traditional career? Here’s how to build a “portfolio career” with many sources of income

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Are you too curious for a traditional, long-term career path?

Maybe you want to try too many things. Or you become restless in a job. You don’t want to be locked up. You prefer to have several sources of income.

There’s a movement that captures this perspective: it’s “portfolio career” – a term that originated in the 1980s, but has become particularly popular in recent years, as many people feel more empowered to explore their purpose, skills and ambition.

But if you haven’t taken this route yet, where do you start? Or if you’ve started, how do you ensure that your commitments and responsibilities continue to align with your personal values, goals, and goals?

To get started, try this four-step exercise. It won’t produce all the answers about what your portfolio career looks like – because, of course, you can only produce those answers yourself – but it will give you a way to structure your thoughts and plans. And you can revisit it over time. As your goals and ambitions evolve, use exercise as a way to refocus.

Step 1: Make a list.

First, make a long list of all your skills, abilities, and talents. Be generous with the scope of the list; you’ll want to include anything you can think of that is work-related or not. If listing your skills feels uncomfortable, you can complete this exercise from a third-person perspective, as if you were an outsider performing an objective assessment. Use any feedback you’ve received in the past to guide you, or any positive responses you’ve had about your past work or initiatives.

To help you start the process, ask yourself the following questions:

● What skills or talents are you known for, either among your friends or in your professional network?

● Was there anything you were particularly good at as a child? Would people remember you?

● Do you have any key passions, interests or activities? Think, in particular, about the things you like to do such that you would do them even if you were bad at them. In other words, what are the things you are willing to spend time on because of the joy of the activity itself, rather than the result?

● What parts of your life would you continue to pursue if you had no financial pressure? What parts would you keep chasing if you had no social pressure (in other words, no one was watching)?

● Complete the following sentence describing your professional identity: my name is [X]and my main professional goal is [Y]. After completing the sentence using your current role and position, reconsider it from a purely hypothetical position. How would you change it, if you could? Ideally, what would you like it to say?

Step 2: Assess

Review your answers and look for patterns. Choose keywords, phrases and indicators that come up often. Highlight or underline them in a different color, if that helps. See if you can spot any emerging consistencies, themes or general principles.

Now ask: if you had to select three elements to compose your career portfolio, which ones would you keep? Which would you leave behind?

Step 3: Drill Down

Once you have some general ideas or themes, it’s time to get even more specific. Plan an “ideal day in the life” of your portfolio career. Be intentional and specific with details. What time does your day start? What is the first activity you do? Do you spend your day at your desk or somewhere else? When do you take breaks and what do you do with them? When do you end your day and is there anything you plan next in your free time?

This stage starts with the building blocks of your portfolio skills and abilities, then shapes them into an idealistic version of reality. You can repeat this step as many times as you like, moving parts around and redesigning until you have an idea of ​​the typical day you would like to have.

Step 4: Create a Plan

Finally, using all the materials and suggestions from the steps above, you can now define the elements needed to build your ideal portfolio career. What practical skills, talents, abilities, and interests are most important to focus on?

You also don’t need to immediately think about how to make money with them – your portfolio can start with a set of skills that you will work on or study over time, and only turn into a stream of income only later. For now, just choose the main blocks you want for the base of your portfolio and write them down somewhere.

Over the next few weeks, commit to yourself to review your portfolio plan. As you start to develop a clearer idea of ​​how you would like your professional life to look like, you can start to get practical. What small steps can you take to start bringing your portfolio items to fruition? Could you, for example, enroll in a training or course that introduces you to a new industry? Could you reach out to your network or contacts about potential new opportunities?

As always, when it comes to designing your career, the process can take some time. Try to avoid rushing. Instead, see it as a time of exploration and an opportunity to get to know yourself and your interests on a deeper level. If you stay focused, committed, and persistent, your next steps often become clearer sooner than you expect.

This article is excerpted from Eloise Skinner’s new book, But are you alive?, an exploration of the search for depth in everyday life. you can order it here.

Leave a Comment