Becoming a portfolio careerist

by Barrie Hopson on February 26, 2011 · 0 comments

in portfolio careers,Starting a portfolio career

I was delighted to discover a website devoted to becoming a portfolio careerist so immediately made contact with Helen Wiles who agreed to guest post for us on how she embarked on this career pattern. We talk about different ways of funding your portfolio career and also say that the riskiest way is what we called ‘leap and the net will appear’. I was especially interested therefore to discover that this was Helen’s approach. To be fair she also had some funds and a husband that had an income stream but even so it is one of the riskier strategies so congratulations to her for going with it. Read what she has to say:

“It happened so suddenly and yet so slowly. I had been ruminating over my next career move for over two years, treading water in a role I had once adored and was proud to have built up over the best part of a decade, but that had changed beyond recognition. I decided the only option was to just leave – it wasn’t easy, in fact, in the words of a colleague who had also recently left a very absorbing, long-standing role, it was like a bereavement. I had worked with some amazing, inspirational colleagues and associates and was so sad to not have the day-to-day contact with them anymore.

There was no epiphany, no great realisation of what I had to do. I had some savings and the support of my wonderful husband and my instinct to keep busy to stay sane, kicked in. I started volunteering and making the effort to do things I liked even though energy and enthusiasm for anything was very hard to muster. I followed a good friend’s advice to give myself permission to do a little bit of what I fancied. I found myself having long lunches with friends, teaching at a homelessness charity, pruning apple trees as part of a community gardening project, fundraising, fiddling with a half-written novel, helping friends paint their houses and taking our dog for very long walks.

As I began to reconnect with things I liked, the fog started to lift and I realised that teaching had to stay in the mix somewhere and I got myself some paid work doing some private and small group tuition teaching English. That in hand, I remembered that I had a whole host of other skills too from a background in journalism and citizenship education and decided there was no reason why my former colleagues and associates might not make use of them on a freelance and consultancy basis. I decided it couldn’t hurt to let them know I was available. At first I just intended to mention it to people, then I thought I ought to send an email instead…then I thought perhaps a short flyer would be better…or perhaps a website.

That’s where it took off. After developing myself a mild case of repetitive strain injury by doing the website development work myself, I sent the link to my sparkly new website, to my existing network. The offers started to come in. They say success breeds success and this kick-started my efforts to reach new potential clients through networking events and bidding for work in new areas. I was suddenly feeling more energised and alive than I had done in far too long and soon I was busy working for a diverse range of clients in education, health, charities and small businesses providing a services from writing and editing to education projects and consultancy. On the side, I kept teaching and volunteering too. All of a sudden I had a portfolio career and the life I had always wanted. So here I am; a portfolio careerist and loving every minute of it!

Find out more in my blog, The Portfolio Careerist:”

Notice just how much attention she came to give to her motivated skills. Do the exercise in our book and find out what yours are!

And good luck to Helen in her new career. Few people turn back once they have tasted it.

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