Going for it: starting a portfolio career

This week I’m going to take the biggest gamble in my working life so far. Despite having a big mortgage on a house in London and kids still at school, I’m going to give up my full-time, nicely well-paid job and pursue what most people are now calling a ‘portfolio career’. In other words, I’m going to try and earn my crust from a number of different sources in the hope that it will allow me to do more of what I want to and more of what I enjoy. Will it work? God knows, but I’m sure going to give it my best shot.

I’m going to let you know how I get on by writing about my experiences here. Once it’s completely out in the open I’ll give you more details of the sort of thing I did, and, more importantly, what I hope to be doing from now on. And believe me, I have plenty of ideas (the biggest of which are shown on this site). Most of them, to be honest, are pretty risky; all involve new, relatively-unproven areas of consulting, and some have bleeding-edge technology angles to make them even more unpredictable. The best idea of all brings together a new area of consulting and some great technology to help provide disadvantaged people with work. If all the other ideas help me achieve that one alone, then I will be a happy man.

So, somehow I’ve got to earn the trust of enough people to give me work that I actually want to do and that they need doing. Then I’ve got to be able to balance all these different demands so that I don’t let any of them down. This is not a well-worn path – there is little precedent for portfolio careers generally and, even though I’m a management consultant, I don’t go big on inspirational gurus. I will, however, take some encouragement from people like David Hieatt, Seth Godin and Alan Watts, who famously advised us to ‘stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence’. And whilst we are quoting decent people, it’s probably worth mentioning Seneca who told us that ‘life is long if you know how to use it’. That one phrase really sums up why I’m doing this now, especially as I approach my 50th year. There has been very little specifically written about how to do this ‘portfolio career’ thing properly, so hopefully my story will act as either a helpful guide or a dire warning. I’m hoping it’s the former.

Wish me luck.

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