A 'Portfolio Career' May Be What You Need If You Have More Than One Passion

Since we no longer live in an age where we work at the same company for 40 years before settling into retirement, there is a lot of room for innovation when it comes to our professional lives. One concept that is picking up steam, though the term was first cited in the 1980s, is that of having a portfolio career, reports Entrepreneur. Having multiple passions is completely normal and the modern world is more amenable to the pursuit of numerous career pursuits than the eras of past decades.

If deciding on a single pursuit and sticking to that one and only trajectory doesn't excite you, there's no need to worry because it may just be that you're better suited to multiple pursuits. And it can be said that having several interests puts you on the edge of innovation!

If you've ever been told that you're too scattered, you aren't focused enough, or you're seemingly all over the place without direction for your career, we'll be the first to call those assertions false and instead present you with the innovating pathway of portfolio careers. Very much like its name, a portfolio career is a resume filled with multiple jobs of varied interests. Rather than trying to work your way up in one company, you may find that you prefer to work two completely different jobs simultaneously or to switch things up every few months or years. Here's how to be successful with a portfolio career.

The benefits of a portfolio career

Even if you've never heard the term "portfolio career" before, there's a good chance that you're already familiar with the premise of portfolio careers. According to Time, portfolio careers can be thought of as the gig economy all grown up. The digital gig economy is known for opportunities for individuals to make extra money by driving for companies like Uber and Lyft, renting out rooms or entire homes on sites like Airbnb, and delivering groceries with companies such as Instacart. With events in the economy such as the 2008 recession and the current post-pandemic recession, there is a draw to earning extra cash with jobs available through the gig economy. However, when you want to take those side jobs a step further and develop them into careers, with goals for both personal and professional growth, then you're on track for a portfolio career.

There are definite benefits to creating diversity in how you earn money, with economic recessions being a prime example. During the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 25 million jobs in the United States were lost due to cuts, layoffs, or company closures, reports Pew. Moments of economic uncertainty can create financial uncertainty on an individual level, so having several outlets for earning income can provide you with increased security during times of instability. Additionally, working different jobs in separate fields can help you refrain from tying your identity strictly to a singular job title or role. That's a double win!

Consider your interests and goals

The way your portfolio career comes together is going to be as unique as you are. Portfolio careers involve creativity by their very nature of requiring you to be crafty about how you fit multiple passions and subsequent jobs into your weekly routine. So when you first begin your portfolio career journey, be open to embracing the excitement and innovation that's involved. Sit down with a journal and spend time writing down all of your interests, passions, and which jobs can reasonably combine your interests with a paycheck. You'll also want to look at your budget, including your current expenses and monthly bills, and determine how much income you'll need to bring in each month since you won't have a set salary from a single job.

After jotting down the practicalities of your financial needs, begin brainstorming all of the jobs, projects, and endeavors you'd like to explore. This is when you should be open with yourself and freely creative in considering all of the opportunities that exist for you to incorporate into your portfolio career. Entrepreneur recommends asking yourself questions about your talents, skills, interests, past pursuits, and what you'd do if money wasn't an issue. Allow yourself to dream about what you would do if you could do anything. Realistically, you probably won't be able to work a side job as an astronaut, but you can incorporate passions for music, art, gardening, or other activities into your income stream.

Build a portfolio career strategically

The idea of having a portfolio career likely sounds exciting because you can pursue multiple interests and passions. To make a portfolio career effective at being able to pay your bills, you have to be strategic about how you lay the foundation for your income avenues, though. As fun as it would be to just jump right into projects involving painting, gardening, coding, performing, writing, and a plethora of other creative outlets, you need to be certain that you can establish paying jobs that will culminate in enough monthly income to pay for your expenses. You should also consider what type of work you'll want to do and if you want to work remotely or in person. 

Besides the financial aspect of a portfolio career, you should also consider the social and interpersonal ramifications of various types of jobs, then strive to find a balance that is best for your lifestyle. You might balance work-from-home positions with jobs outside of the house to consciously refrain from becoming isolated. You'll also want to be mindful about not taking on jobs that might conflict with one another. It could seem crafty to work multiple remote jobs at once, but if they require the same time schedule then you're likely to quickly find yourself in a bind. When you build a portfolio career, it's best to start slowly, adding on as you find your footing.

Be daring and try new things

Creating a portfolio career can provide you with a lot of room and flexibility to try new things, which is an aspect of the journey you should embrace! Entrepreneur advises that honing in on one specific interest or passion is the best way to stabilize a portfolio career at its beginning, but that doesn't mean you can't expand your interests later. With a portfolio career, you aren't tied to one industry or one company, so your options are practically endless. 

PsychCentral reveals that many people struggle to find or maintain hobbies in adulthood, but with a portfolio career, you can find ways to use your hobbies, interests, and passions to create revenue. Perhaps you find that you really love doing pottery and ceramics, so perhaps you begin to sell your work at a local farmer's market or open an online storefront. If nothing else, use a portfolio career as extra encouragement to try that activity, skill, or task that you've always wanted to undertake.

Part of the strategy required with a portfolio career is ensuring that you can make enough money to pursue the hobbies and jobs you wish to undertake, even after up-front fees. For instance, if you find that you love yoga after enjoying it as a hobby, subsequently deciding that you want to become a yoga instructor will cost money in order to achieve the certifications and training required. 

Embrace the slower, or more manageable, pace of life

Harvard Business Review recommends trying a slower speed of life as you transition from a full-time office job to a portfolio career. Try to find times during the day to simply enjoy yourself, whether through the pursuit of a new activity or by practicing mindfulness and meditation, or journaling. 

Modern work culture pushes people to constantly be on the go, to have their schedules filled to the brim, and to feel guilty for embracing downtime. When you decide to start a portfolio career, make a commitment to yourself that you will leave enough space in your schedule to relax, spend quality time with friends and family, and appreciate the environment around you. 

Like all new transitions, it may feel odd and perhaps a little uncomfortable at first when you begin living at a slower speed, but trust the process and benefits. 

Enjoy a well-rounded lifestyle

Having a portfolio career can allow you to live a well-rounded lifestyle wherein you can spend time with your family, take moments to relax when you need a break, and pursue the passion projects you've always wanted to take on. You'll also be more likely to have peace of mind should you be laid off or lose one job because you'll have another to keep your income flowing, and you'll likely have more security should larger economic events like recessions occur. 

Having a portfolio career also may lead to endless opportunities. From gigs to freelance work to even working as an employee of a business that allows you to have other positions on the side, you can make your portfolio career a professional depiction of yourself rather than allowing your job to define your identity.

One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you decide to pursue freelance work, you'll have to provide your own benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings. Therefore, when undertaking a portfolio career, you should always schedule regular check-ins with yourself to see how you feel about your current positions, your work/life balance, and the stability of your bank account, advises FlexJobs.