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A portfolio lifestyle

“A portfolio career” is a term I’ve only recently become familiar with. There are various definitions, but basically it means someone who has a number of different income streams running concurrently. This may be two or more part time jobs with employers, or a number of different forms of self-employment, and can include non-income generating work, like voluntary work.

It is becoming more popular, as nowadays fewer people join an employer on leaving education and then stay there until retirement. In uncertain times such as the ones we are living in, security is a big issue. One job with one employer is no longer considered a safe bet, as people are being made redundant and businesses are failing all the time. Self-employment is considered slightly more secure as the risk is spread amongst a number of customers rather than just one. But even then, if the market for that product or service suddenly reduces, the person can find themselves without enough work. So some people consciously choose to have a number of different economic activities, whether employed, self-employed or a combination of the two, to spread the risk.

Other people choose a portfolio career to have a range of different needs met. It is rare for one job to provide all the opportunities and experiences that a person enjoys. With a variety of jobs, different work can provide different rewards. And then, some people just have very low boredom thresholds, and enjoy having a number of projects on the go at the same time.

It is for all of those reasons that I am embarking on a portfolio lifestyle. I say lifestyle, rather than career, because I recognise that some of the things I used to enjoy in the workplace are no longer possible for me, so I will be doing other activities to include them in my life.

Faced with having to earn an income from home, lying down for the majority of the time (see previous blogs), I needed to think of what I could do. I couldn’t come up with any single idea that would, by itself, provide enough income for me to live on. But I did come up with a number of ideas which would each have something to offer. Some would be mostly for the income generating opportunity they offered. Others were to utilise the few skills I have. Others still were to do things I feel are worthwhile and important. None of them really gave me enough face to face interaction with other people. So I found other, voluntary, activities which would provide those.

I’m only a fortnight into this new life. The transition from doing one job with a team of lovely people in offices near my home to working at home on my own on a number of projects hasn’t been easy. I miss the people. The banter, the throwing ideas around, the discussion, the gossip. But I’m enjoying the variety of working on different things at different times. And already, the “work”, the voluntary activities and the social activities are forming a pattern where they almost merge together.

Whilst a life with 20+ hours a day spent lying down sounds pretty boring (and I do have an incredibly low boredom threshold), I’m currently involved with the following activities:

Evenbreak – a job board matching inclusive employers with disabled job seekers

Buzz Training – a brand new international training company owned by a friend, of which I am Director of Training

Public Sector Providers – a training company specialising in the public sector

The Diversity People – a training company specialising in equality and diversity

The Leadership and Management People – a training company specialising in management and leadership development

Phab – I volunteer for this charity which provides social activities bringing disabled and non-disabled people together

Samaritans – I volunteer for this charity which helps people who are in distress or suicidal

Whizz Kidz – I arrange an annual fund raising activity for this fantastic charity which provides customised wheelchairs for children. Last year an abseil, this year a fire walk

I’ve also recently bought an electric piano which I can stand at to play – the first time I’ve been able to play a musical instrument for seven years, so I need to work hard to get back to even the poor standard I was at then!.

My hope is that, between them all, my needs for an income, to interact with people, to feel that I’m doing something worthwhile, to have some fun, to “make a difference” (however small), to use the few skills I have left and to re-introduce music into my life will be met. And somehow, I can’t see me getting bored just yet!