Exploring the Portfolio Life | A Freelancer’s Manifesto

Exploring the Portfolio Life | A Freelancer’s Manifesto

Are you a portfolio worker at heart? Is it time to take the plunge into freelancing?

Someone who lives The Portfolio Life is a freelancer as they are not employed by one company. The very slight difference between the terms lies in the type of work each does. The freelancer usually focuses on one type of work whereas the portfolio worker has a variety of specialties, doing different types of work for different employers or clients. For example, I am a freelance writer and editor, but I also have worked for a variety of educational institutions and companies as an instructor or a coach.

I’ve flirted with freelancing for a couple of decades, but it’s been an on-again-off-again relationship. Freelancing has its perks and perils, but I finally realized it was time to admit, commit, and submit to this lifestyle so I wrote this short manifesto.

Admit

First, I need to admit that I’m not wired for the 8-5 life of an employee, and I need to admit I enjoy the challenge and flexibility of taking on projects on my own terms and my own time despite the reduced financial security and the fears that freelancing stirs up.

Commit

Second, I need to commit to this choice. It’s time to stop playing the field, searching the want ads, and refining my résumé in hopes that I’ll find the perfect, full-time job. It’s time to embrace the freelance life and do what needs to be done to make this a lasting relationship.

Submit

Third, I need to submit to the realization that I can’t do it all, but my work and my art can manifest itself in a variety of ways. I also need to submit my work to the world. It’s time to dust off my creations and get them out in the open. It’s time to serve others with the gifts I’ve been given by helping them bring their dreams to life.

What a relief it was to write that. Making this decision was long overdue for me.

What about you?

 

Sources

The original concept of a portfolio worker is credited to Charles Handy who wrote about it in his book, The Age of Unreason. Jeff Goins builds on Handy’s idea of a portfolio worker in his book, The Art of Work, and applies it more broadly to a person’s life–a portfolio life .

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Exploring the Portfolio Life | When You Don’t Know What You Want to Be When You Grow Up

Exploring the Portfolio Life | When You Don’t Know What You Want to Be When You Grow Up

Following my last breakup with a J-O-B, I gave myself a few days to gulp, regroup, and consider what would come next.

After years of making ends meet with adjunct teaching positions and part-time contract work, I had thought I would get on the full-time career track once my children were out of school. When I finally found a way to hop on the corporate freight train (which was not easy in my mid 40s), I realized that my free-wheeling-stay-at-home-contract work-Mom days may have ruined me for working a traditional 9-5 job.

Though I’d read just about every popular book on the subject of finding the perfect career or small business, I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. So when Jeff Goin’s book, The Art of Workkept popping up in newsfeeds and e-newsletters, I said, “What can it hurt?” (But inside I thought, “I doubt it will help.”)

While the book didn’t cover a lot of new ground for a self-help junkie like me, it gave me a name for an idea I’d been chewing on during the eight months I spent at a forty-hour-a-week job. Not long after I began work, I began chafing at the single-taskedness (I know that’s not a word.) of that position. I began to wonder how could anyone do the same thing for thirty years. On darker days, I wondered what was wrong with me, and why I could not be content with my perfectly good job with a respected company. I liked my co-workers and the steady income but realized I longed for the flexible schedule and daily variety that I’d found in being a mother, a teacher, and a whole host of other volunteer roles. So when I arrived at the chapter that described a portfolio life, I had an a-ha moment. I knew I’d already found how I wanted to work when I grew up

The original concept of a portfolio worker is credited to Charles Handy who wrote about it in his book The Age of Unreason. Goins takes Handy’s idea of a portfolio worker, who earns a living through a variety of income sources and endeavors, and applies it more broadly to a person’s life–a portfolio life.

To a certain extent, this is how I have lived my adult life, but I didn’t consider it a legitimate way to live or work. I saw it as a temporary phase I was going through so I could help my husband make ends meet while raising our children rather than an intentional perspective on work and life. Sometimes I feel I’m living in an extended adolescence career-wise because I’ve not established myself in a profession. Every now and again I still catch myself quipping “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

As I worked through the fallout of my last big job breakup, I began to realize that what seemed to be haphazard, fruitless years of jobs, education, and volunteer work, may actually be seeds that could blossom into a satisfying and eclectic portfolio life.

I wrote the draft of this post five months ago thinking I would start a new blog about my explorations of a portfolio life, but I haven’t had time. Recent events brought this post to mind when I needed to hear it again, and I realized it was time to dust these ideas off and share them on my current blog as a series.

So if you’d like to explore the portfolio life with me, stay tuned for more posts in this series: Exploring the Portfolio Life.

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Cleaning Today’s Slate | Recovering from Input Overload

Cleaning Today’s Slate | Recovering from Input Overload

Last night, I had about 450 minutes of respite from Input, and I slept well.

Deep sleep visited me, unlike the night before—a night of restlessness born from a bubbling slough of unconscious anxieties. The battles I fight right now are mere skirmishes, practices even. In that sense, I have no right to become anxious or sleepless, and yet it happens more often than I like when I allow Input to balloon out of control.

Sleepwalking days follow wakeful nights. I’ve dubbed them “Lost Days” because though I move and function and take care of vital tasks, I’m not one hundred percent. The lack of sleep puts stress on my immune system like a hot day taxing a freezer sitting out in the full sun. I feel physically ill. Sometimes I even run a slight temperature. I am mentally fogged. Taking a long afternoon nap in bed perpetuates the problem of night-time insomnia for me, so I fight through the long, Lost Day, catching a cat nap on the couch when necessary, and then go to bed at a reasonable hour, surrendering to sleep and the comfort of blank sheets.

When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. this morning, I tried to return to the bliss of sleep’s respite, but I could not. Instead, I realized the previous day had been spent recovering from an Input-binge hangover. The last couple of weeks have been full of information and social media and reading and researching ideas for projects in progress. Not only was my desk cluttered, but my mind felt cluttered.

This morning after my night’s reboot, it was time to create a blank slate in my work space as well. So, between 5:30 and 6:04 a.m. I did just that.

  • I cleared my desk.
  • I pulled all of the sticky notes off the wall in front of my desk except for one, “…the blank page is a magic box.” (J. J. Abrams, TED Talk)
  • I thought about writing on paper, but instead I chose to clear my computer—metaphorically. I shut down all programs except my word processor. I did not check email. I did not check social media. I went straight to my no-distractions blank page mode in Scrivener (the writing software I use), and I began to write.

It was a clean start to a new day.

How will you reduce your Input load today?


 

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