Most people that I know with a portfolio career have unpaid work as part of that portfolio. I certainly do. I have offered free mentoring to people for many years. I have chaired my local community association for 8 years and for the past 3 years I have been a trustee for Disability Sport Yorkshire. These activities have always been a vital part of my portfolio career. Indeed one of the joys for me of having this career pattern has been that it has been easier to take on these roles than if I had one full time job. And portfolio career people continually tell me that this is one of the huge pluses of this career pattern.

The Institute for Volunteering Research estimates that:

  • 2 million people volunteer at least once a month in the UK
  • and 23.1 million volunteer at least once a year.

Research over time has shown that the more volunteering a person does and the more groups they are involved with the higher will be the level of their general well-being. Volunteering is also appearing as an indicator in measures of national well-being in countries seeking to move beyond the single blunt instrument of increasing GDP. See

In Durham, in the UK, , some voluntary organisations and GP practices are exploring the potential of complementing medical prescribing with volunteering for patients who might benefit from that combination. A Cabinet Office and DWP report estimated that the well-being benefits produced by the volunteering element were the financial equivalent of over £13,000 per person.

So it is good to reflect on how you feel about volunteering, the skills and talents you will be able to offer, the amount of time you are able to offer and which organisation might benefit most from your contributing.

Because of the work that I have been doing on retirement recentlly ( I have been keeping up to date with how many people are doing voluntary work and at what ages. In the livehappier learning programme I outline how important it is to identify one’s innate strengths. You could sign up at the livehappier site (its free to use thanks to Aviva) and use the activities described there to discover your innate strenghts. You need to exercise the Work module. The activities will help you to:

  • Understand that there are 2 types of work – paid and unpaid.
  • Discover just what work you love to do– by using your innate strengths.
  • Develop your innate strengths and pay much less attention to your weaknesses.
  • It will teach you what it is like to be ‘in the zone’, going with the flow.
  • You will discover your 7 main life achievements so far.
  • You will be able to analyse your paid and unpaid work to see if you are putting your innate strengths to work.

Although these activites have a retirement focus they work just as well for any time of your life. Indeed, we have a similar activity in our book.

A fascinating post from Nesta  discusses just how much voluntary work can now be carried out from the desktop at home.

It would be very good to hear your stories of what voluntary work you do and what you gain from it in addition to thr benefits to  the groups or people that you work.


Katie and I continually wax on about the pluses of having a portfolio career which also means that for many of us we are also freelancers. I found this article in Management Today fascinating as it is written from the point of view of employers of freelancers. The author, Peter Johnston, gives many tips on how to manage freelancers and this gives a revealing picture of what employers see as the strengths and weaknesses of this kind of work life style. So if this is what they are looking for you can decide whether or not you wish to play by their rules which, for the most part, would be advantageous to you.

I showed this to two freelancer friends today who immediately began to analyse the employers they work for to see if what the author described rang true. They both thought it did hence my passing this on to you enable you to analyse the fit between what is important to you about work and what employers want.

It will make a change from the xmas cracker jokes anyway!


“A portfolio career allows me to share childcare.”

15 December 2016

That was a quote from someone at a recent conference where I was talking about portfolio careers. Sounds obvious does’nt it? But a recent CIPD survey shows that  only one-fifth (21 per cent) of the 1,050 senior HR professionals surveyed for the report said they had received requests from male employees to take up SPL. […]

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The future of work – again!

23 November 2016

I loved this picture even though it only represents men! When I started to write about careers in the 1970’s  we were already saying that the average worker was likely to have at least 4 jobs before retirement. That was well before this century when we now have portfolio careers, huge increase in self employment, […]

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Having more than one passion links to greater happiness…

15 November 2016

…. was a finding from an article in the Journal of Happiness Studies recently. Admittedly the research was on students only but the findings were significant enough to get the authors speculating about numbers of passions and happiness and well being. The results clearly showed that those with 2 or more passions scored significantly more […]

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Working from Home

9 November 2016

Many portfolio workers though not all work from home and indeed see that as one of the benifits. So I was delighted to be approached by to use some of my ideas on a page they were working on to promote portfolio careers. It gives a wide range of jobs that people are choosing […]

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GP’s encouraged to pursue portfolio careers

9 October 2016

General practice should cast off the stuffy reputation of traditional models of working and embrace ‘exciting’ new systems to attract trainees into the workforce, Health Education England (HEE) has said. Selling new ways of working and flexible careers will be emphasised as part of plans to get more trainees into the profession and build a […]

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Live Happpier: How to design a retirement that you love

20 September 2016

My last posting was all about portfolio living – including portfolio careers – taking over from traditional life stages like Retirement. I have intimated that I have been spending much time over the past 2 years in producing an online learning programme to help people prepare and plan for their retirement as of course we […]

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Retirement and Portfolio Living

15 September 2016

In writing our book in 2009 we were intrigued to discover research that suggested that the 2 groups most attracted by the notion of pursuing a portfolio career were the Millennials (under 28’s) and the 60+ group. Us ‘baby boomers’ have fundamentally changed every life stage we have lived through. Remember the 60’s? No of […]

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Portfolio Careers in Iran!

6 September 2016

Yes our book  has just been published in Iran by Magyar Publishers. If you use Google Translate you can see the book featured on their website at in the science section. Don’t all rush at once! Fascinated to discover why it has interested a major publisher in Iran. We would be delighted to hear […]

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