This week, I have the final recital for a cabaret class I am taking, and I am doing stand-up as part of a comedy benefit. I am also facilitating a coaching group for start-up COO’s and leading a negotiation workshop. Finally, I am in the middle of a financing deal for one my real estate properties. What is my job?
I don’t have any one job. You don’t have to either.
If you follow my blog, you know that I am a career coach/ recruiter/ writer/ real estate investor/ comic. If this is the first time you’re reading something by me, you might not have guessed I had a portfolio career. But I do, and that’s an option for you too.
In a recent post on Forbes, I tackled a question from a job seeker who was unsure how to choose among her multiple interests. I answered the question directly, assuming this job seeker indeed wants a job as opposed to a portfolio of projects, like I have.
I certainly wanted a job for the first half of my career. I didn’t grow up in a family of entrepreneurs, though my mom was an early side hustler who always had additional work outside her day job. I didn’t even think starting my own business was an option, and certainly not right after school.
The right job sits at the intersection of your interests and priorities.
Furthermore, I was fixated on making as much money as I could. I wanted to stay in NYC, and I didn’t want to live at home. When I was in college, I double-majored in music and economics. I was always creative, but I was also analytical. Finance paid the most, and I happened to love the markets. Priority? Money. Interest? Markets. My first job was in investment banking.
Strengths and opportunities matter too.
Of course, I happened to have the right profile for banking – high grades, brand-name college, Type A work ethic. If I didn’t check the boxes for investment banking, I could have done other roles in finance, just not necessarily that one.
The market was slower in the early nineties when I graduated. It was not the go-go eighties, but there were still campus recruiting programs with opportunities for newbies like me. You need to have corroborating strengths, and you need to find matching opportunities, in addition to having an interest and prioritizing that area.
Interests, priorities, strengths and opportunities change over time.
That said, several years into a hectic job for a consulting firm in their investment banking practice left me wanting. I liked the markets, I liked the analysis, but I liked the advisory aspect the most. I also wanted to advise on people issues, not just business issues, and fulfilling that need became a priority over money. I had some savings by now and had established a foothold in NYC. I could choose different priorities.
With my consulting experience, albeit business consulting, I had strengths that could translate into people consulting. Having worked for several years on various projects, I had a bigger network and found opportunities more closely aligned to where I was right now.
Fast forward 15 years into my career, and my interests, priorities, strengths and opportunities had morphed even more. At that point, there wasn’t a job that met my criteria except for going out on my own.
Hindsight is 20/20, and sure I would have changed some things.
Knowing what I know now, I do wish I had made the jump from single job to portfolio career earlier. One of my key interests now is real estate, and I would be much further along had I started even a few years earlier. Seeing how easy it is to fit my creative pursuits alongside my business pursuits, I wish I hadn’t been so all-or-nothing with these two areas of my life. But I got there – I even started a brand new business in my forties in something that wasn’t even on my radar till a few years ago.
Despite the slow start, I’m still able to do everything I want now, so what does it really matter how long it took to get there? If you have multiple interests, you will find the time for them. Some may just be hobbies to start because the opportunities to make them part of your career aren’t there, or you just prioritize them as hobbies. Some interests may take priority as your primary profession in due time, while others will fall by the wayside. Some interests may get a boost from unexpected opportunity.
Now I just expect to change things up.
I bet I will be doing new things a few years from now that I haven’t yet planned on. These days, I balance my time between planning and executing against things I’m sure of, but also leaving space for surprises. I know I want to travel around the world, and my husband and I are already making plans – not just travel plans, but plans for how our work will accommodate, how our finances will stack up, and how other obligations will be met while we’re abroad.
Who knows what will come out of that? I will keep you posted. What are your upcoming plans?