When I was young, I remember thinking that there were jobs, and then there were careers. Things that people did to make ends meet and things that you aspired to do when you grew up, a doctor, lawyer, teacher… known professions. Things that your parents could explain without a supporting phone-call from you to clarify, for the hundredth time, exactly what you do for a living.
This was a firm held opinion by the teachers at my fairly conventional grammar school, and was used as a guide for what you should study if you wanted to attain the right career. I was an ambitious teenager, and naturally went along with the herd in aspiring to be a lawyer, taking the requisite subjects that led me down that path, and neatly forgetting some of the things I was passionate about at the time. Some of those passions only really came to the fore later in life, and yet still I didn’t really think of them as things that I could potentially take advantage of in my working life.
After leaving university with a degree in Economics, and a masters in law, it was clear to me that the ‘right job’ was in no way the ‘right job’ for me. Absent of the creativity that I sought out, the alternative led me down a path of market research, then publishing, then communications. All enjoyable, but it was only when I was made redundant and found myself running my own business that I felt able to explore how I might start to integrate my ‘hobbies’ into my work.
I’m lucky in that one of them (fashion) became what I freelance in daily. I started a second business in food organising events for people to learn different cuisines, but realised that I wanted to be more hands on in food and am now embarking on a professional chef course and exploring options like opening an upscale food-focused B&B where we live. I’m building my portfolio in writing and illustration and using any opportunities to integrate that into my work where I can. Who said that there was one ‘right’ job anyway?
Beyond this, the biggest changes for me have been how my week is structured. I work from multiple locations, live in two places and arrange my week so that it finishes by meeting new and interesting contacts, and it starts by me working in my own space by the coast. These things make me happy.
I’m by no means the first person to write about this phenomenon and I’m going to be talking about some of the interesting reading I’ve been doing on the idea of having multiple careers, whether they follow on from each other, or occur simultaneously. However, I do feel like we’re in the middle of a period of real momentum behind the trend.
I lose count of how many of my peers are starting up business after business, enlivened by their first experience in doing something for themselves, and open to exploring multiple opportunities at once.
I’m astounded by how many people ask me how I came to work for myself. What’s it like? How does it work? How would they go about doing the same thing?
I’m intrigued by the fact that for 60% of the jobs that kids currently in education will end up in don’t even exist yet (please note - the source and exact figure for this thinking seems to change week to week, but you get the point...). What does this mean for how we encourage them into their ‘right career’, or how we might give them advice to follow their interests, and appreciate that the current 'career' concept might inherently be flawed? Indeed, entrepreneurialism is already being ingrained in a younger audience of school and university leavers, but this is more as a result of lack of employment, rather than infusing this belief into our educational system.
This blog sets out to explore these things. It will look at how the culture of work and how people structure their careers is changing. It will profile interesting individuals who are leading these multiple lives and providing actionable information for you to do the same. I'll also give pointers on the important stuff like which coffee shops are best to work from for the day, and structuring your week so that work makes you happy and you never have Sunday night fear again.
We start next week with a good friend of mine who is building her creative chocolate empire whilst working as a social media expert, and recently moving into resourcing for her company. Juggling roles is quickly becoming a core skill set for her.
Welcome to ‘Masters of Many’. An exploration of the fascinating individuals for whom the definition of ‘right job’ just doesn’t apply.