Many people struggle to find that one career that will make them happy the rest of their lives. What if you didn’t have to choose a single path? More and more workers today are prioritizing freedom and flexibility over a seemingly secure corporate job. This phenomenon is backed by a recent study revealing that 24 million U.S. workers want to leave traditional employment to become their own boss by 2021. It turns out that self-employment is the new American dream. The rise in self-employment combined with the burgeoning gig economy, is making the portfolio career a viable option for many Americans.
What is a portfolio career?
American workers today want more control over how and why they work. A portfolio career gives them that and more. A portfolio career is a working style where you combine multiple streams of income—often creating a mix of full or part-time employment, freelancing or working as a consultant. For example, you could combine consulting with part-time work, developing your own product or service and freelance writing. The biggest theme around a portfolio career is that of self-management. You decide when you work, whom you work with and how much you’re worth.
What are the benefits of a portfolio career?
It’s unlikely that one job will be able to provide you with the satisfaction, growth and versatility that you deserve. A portfolio career offers many benefits, including the ability to:
- Explore your passions
- Develop new skills and knowledge
- Control the trajectory of your career
- Enjoy more flexibility and variety in your work
- Pursue multiple income streams (providing more financial security and the ability to spread your risk across several projects or businesses)
Is a portfolio career right for you?
There’s a certain type of person who is attracted to a portfolio career. Barbara Sher, the bestselling author of Refuse to Choose, calls them “Scanners.” One of the most fundamental characteristics of a scanner is intense curiosity in numerous unrelated subjects—they are interested in everything. Another term used to describe this type of person is a multipotentialite. Multipotentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields. To determine if a portfolio career may be right for you, begin by asking yourself these questions:
- Are you torn between several options for your future career and find it difficult to decide?
- Do you often have many ideas for projects or businesses buzzing around in your head?
- Do you love diving into one subject or career for a while, and then find yourself quickly distracted by something else?
- Do you find the thought of settling on one career or industry and climbing the corporate ladder the rest of your life completely unimaginable?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may want to consider whether a portfolio career could bring you the variety and autonomy you’re craving.
In this changing work environment, specializing in one thing is risky. It’s also challenging to get all the gratification we need as human beings from one job. Combining skills and pursuing multiple career paths provides more security and is an effective way of staying agile. While this work style may seem unconventional to some, it will increasingly become the norm as more people discover the benefits of creating the career they deserve. After all, if you don’t take ownership of your career, no one else will.