Are you creating a portfolio life?

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins is an inspiring book that explores the different career paths taken to find fulfilling work.  Each chapter tells the story of a person and their unique journey in a touching way that helps one feel not so alone in the uncertain quest for that next opportunity.  Furthermore, Jeff shares insights about a “portfolio life” which isn’t something he created, but a concept originally coined by Charles Handy in the book The Age of Unreason. Handy highlighted 5 different types of work that make up one’s portfolio – fee, salary, home, study, and gift work.   A portfolio life is not just what you do, but it is also who you are and all of the activities that make up your life and vocation.  Whether you are getting paid for doing them or not.  It seems more people are finding ways to express who they are and then, they are creating opportunities to get paid for doing what they do well.  It just may not be a full-time job with benefits anymore.

Jeff Goins takes a leap in stating by the year 2020, 40 to 50% of Americans will be living a portfolio life and by the year 2030, the majority of our country’s population will find themselves in this situation.  What exactly does this mean?  Job seekers, independent contractors and the self-employed are finding ways to create more of what they want in their lives while living in a world of less certainty in the job market.  Part-time jobs and contract work, often known as “gigs” through self-employment are becoming more common.  Many companies and organizations need people to be more flexible in this economy of changing needs, technology and innovation.  They are making decisions to hire more contractors or per diem staff on an as needed basis, whether they can’t afford to pay for the increasing costs of benefits or they are focused on saving money by employing people only when they are needed for the available work.  As work hours become less consistent, workers will have to plan and prepare for more of this reality.  In addition, jobs are continuously changing.  I read a billboard the other day that said, “Robots won’t replace your job, if you retire.”  Well, that may be a welcome situation for the few who are ready, but not for the majority.  Most of us need to be more willing to welcome change and to invest in ourselves, to be more resilient in our occupations of choice whether this means learning new tools and skills or stretching into a different, but related field of work.

Indeed, research is showing an increase in workers who are in alternative employment arrangements.   A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey from May, 2017 shows a higher percent distribution of workers in alternative and traditional employment arrangements by age and notes the likelihood of an employed person to be an independent contractor increases with age, more than 1 in 3 people at over 55 and older.  This research also reflects that traditional workers (full time with benefits) of the same age are about 1 in 4 people.  And it is even more interesting to note that most of these independent contractors (79%) prefer their current work arrangement.  Of the on-call and temporary workers, only 43% prefer traditional arrangements.  This is less than the 56% survey result for the same group in February, 2005.  Clearly, workers are finding alternate solutions to traditional jobs with pay and benefits.  Whether more people in different age groups actually do more of this over time remains to be studied.

What does this mean for you and your professional needs?  Reach out to me to discuss your career goals and objectives.  We’ll explore how you can be creative and find more of what you need in this current job market.



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