My big fat portfolio career

I’ve decided that given my current employment circumstances I’d quite like a portfolio career. Apparently the phrase was coined in the eighties by management guru Charles Handy but in these straitened times the portfolio career is seeing a revival. And I want one. 

The idea is that instead of the one boring, safe career, the modern business-person has two or three strands of work allowing for greater flexibility and creativity. On better days I think that this could work for me: perhaps some consultancy projects mixed with a bit of teaching and more time for writing stuff (I’ve just started writing and selling magazine articles.)

Up until now I’ve been a steady Eddie. I’ve always had a job with a pay packet attached and someone else to sort out the stuff like tax and insurance and pension. I enjoy the security a steady job brings and I know that being self-employed is sometimes famine or feast. Luckily I’m sufficiently scrooge-like with my money to squirrel it away for a rainy day or for the taxman.

I’ve had a look on the web for a bit of inspiration and found a test that evaluates whether you’re ready for a portfolio career. So am I ready? Well, sort of. The test decrees that I’m not a natural so no surprise there but perhaps more hopefully says that, ‘you could have a portfolio career but you will have think and plan very carefully before making (sic) the plunge.’

It then suggests that I look at where I’ve scored lower than two points. Apparently being a perfectionist is not a good thing for portfolio careerists. It can get you bogged down in minutiae when you should be off searching for that next contract. I need to work on my risk taking, my assertiveness and rather surprisingly, my boredom threshold. For the question ‘I get bored easily,’ I gave myself a 1 (strongly disagree.) Now my mother always taught me that only boring people get bored and I do like to stick at a project be it reading a book, finishing a piece of work or listening to one of Mr. R’s interminable stories.

So I have some personal homework to do before I get the elbow in March. I’d like to write some more about portfolio careers but I’m bored now.

Ooh look it’s lunchtime.

See, I’m learning.

Ps: For the next two days I will be out of the office attending a course called ‘How to become a consultant.’ Portfolio career, here I come.


9 Responses to My big fat portfolio career

  1. Tim says:

    Not that I’m easily distracted or anything (as if!) but I took the test and scored 91, putting me in the same band as you. Pah.

    I guess I’m similar in a few ways to you. I like the security of regular employment and I’m relatively conservative in many aspects of my life, like finances. I’ve always had a loosely-held dream to be a self-employed writer, but I fear that (a) I wouldn’t get on with the boss and (b) I am too easily distracted doing research or reading other people’s interesting blogs to focus sufficiently on what, in my heart of hearts, I have always suspected is really just a fascinating hobby.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t wish I had branched out more in my career, though. I have had similar jobs throughout my 17-year working life to date, and I had an opportunity to go off on a tangent when I took a six-month career break a few years ago, but I ended up taking the easy route and falling back into the same type of job I had left. Do I regret not taking the plunge and trying something different? Yes. It may not have been better, but at least I would have given it a go.

    I guess what I’m saying is don’t be afraid of branching out. The worst that could happen is that you try something new and don’t like it – and I suspect you’ll know quickly enough if that’s the case – and then revert to type. But at least you will have scratched the itch. Good luck!

    • citizenr says:

      Thanks, Tim. I think actually this whole redundancy thing may actually be a blessing in diguise (ssh don’t tell anyone!)as it might give me the push I needed. Funny how much the mind focuses when it has to. What was your career break? Oh and don’t give up with the writing, get that boss to crack the whip a little!

      • Tim says:

        Calling it a career break is perhaps over-glamourising it, insofar that it was more an open-ended jump off the edge of the cliff for me. My wife took voluntary redundancy from her company, and I chose to leave a job I didn’t much care for at the same time. Knowing we had enough of a financial cushion in terms of redundancy & savings to be comfortable for several months, we took the chance to try a few things we hadn’t had time to do before – in my case it was writing the cliched first novel that remains unfinished to this day (just as well, as it wasn’t very good!) – and spend quite a bit of time travelling together. As a means of focussing the mind, spending time with your loved ones and recharging the batteries – it’s amazing how you don’t realise how much work tires you out until you stop doing it for a while – it was an experience I would recommend to anyone.

        I’ve also been made redundant since (from another job I didn’t like – I think I must be quite fussy!), and having spent one long spell out in the wilderness before, the thought of enforced redundancy didn’t really concern me at all. In fact, I rather wish I hadn’t got another job quite as soon as I did! These opportunities to have an extended break from work only come along so many times in a career …

  2. citizenr says:

    Oh dear! um…takes all sorts, we’re all different and other comforting cliches. 😉

  3. J.G.Harston says:

    Well, it confirms what I beleived about myself for a long time. My exwife used to say things like: why don’t you sell your services direct to customers? Well, because I’m a software engineer/catographer/administator, not an accounts manager/advertiser/bills-chaser-uper. If I *was* an accounts manager/advertiser/bills-chaser-uper, then don’t you think that’s the sort of job I’d be looking for?

  4. citizenr says:

    In this brave new world that’s being created I fear we will have to be Jacks (or Jills) of all trades. I know I have a long way to go…

  5. Pingback: It’s all me, me me « I was a public sector worker

  6. Pingback: A little inspiration « I was a public sector worker

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