SelfHelpMe


How to Juggle Multiple Careers

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on October 31, 2007
Tags: , ,

juggling.

On a particularly busy day last week, I did all the usual waking-up stuff, worked five straight hours on a review collating project for a Boston-based publisher, and then took a bus into the city, where I freelance nights at a daily newspaper downtown. In between proofing copy, I checked my e-mail account for my web mag internship, to see if I had received additional responses for a column I was putting together. I eventually made my way home and, unable to turn my brain off right away, did crossword puzzles till I passed out.

My husband accuses me of having no focus. I keep telling him that I have no interest in focusing on one thing. That only makes me bored and fidgety.

The other week, I picked up a book that put, quite eloquently, into words what I had been trying desperately to express to my husband. One Person/Multiple Careers, by Marci Alboher, is about those who balance multiple careers (totally on purpose), and how they do it without going off the deep end.

Appropriately enough, Alboher starts off with beginnings. Specifically, “having a slash career requires being comfortable with beginnings,” as the switching to or adding on of new career paths may require you to start from the very bottom all over again, or embark on a new sort of hands-on education.

New beginnings excite me. If they excite you as well, there should be no problem with making the leap.

Alboher goes on from here to talk about:

  • using previous experiences to get ahead in your additional career (“contacts and knowledge from one career can give you a leg up as you build another”)
  •  the four slashes that can be applied to most any area of interest: “writing, teaching, speaking, and consulting — the black pants of the slash wardrobe.” For example, if you happen to have a slight obsession with self-help manuals, you can:
  1. become a book reviewer
  2. start up a blog
  3. pitch self-improvement stories to all your favorite glossies
  4. teach a class on your favorite source of self-improvement
  5. become a motivational speaker
  6. become a life coach
  7. etc.
  •  owning your new identity, even if you feel like a neophyte (“Tell everyone you’re a writer,” one of Alboher’s subjects advised. “I mean everyone you know, everyone you meet, and everyone who asks what you do. Pretty soon it’ll be true.”)
  • marketing platforms, such as the needs for multiple resumes, web sites, and business cards depending on how closely your various careers are related to each other
  • connections among your slashes; they can give you an edge when/if they add a dimension to your experience that others in the field don’t have
  • finding slash-friendly employers, where you can negotiate flex time, sabbaticals, telecommuting, and other alternative work arrangements
  • juggling your multiple slashes without burning out: As one subject said, “Basically, I know how to say no and I do it any time something would upset the equilibrium of life.”
  • parenting as a slash
  • and more. Much more, really.

Reading this book got me retardedly excited, thinking of all the things I could do now that I had left cubicle-world behind. In fact, I recently wrote a post about it on my personal blog, in which I started frantically listing all the things I wanted to do, such as working at a small press again, in an editorial capacity; becoming a celebrant; starting a reading series; or volunteering with Girls Write Now.

“…why do slashes seem more satisfied with their careers — and less oppressed by them — than those who hold just one job?” Alboher asks. And for me, it’s because I can’t stand being still…I’m constantly interested in learning…I’m interested in so many damn different things…

My schedule has caused problems at home, as I haven’t yet mastered the art of the work/life balance. I rarely eat regular meals, never work out, have erratic sleep times, and don’t have a heckuvalot of time for my husband (or friends or family; I’m sure mom will be thrilled when she hears I’ve volunteered to work on Thanksgiving). But I’m working on it. Career is just too much a part of my identity to push aside.

“I used to think it was all about boundaries — about turning off the cell phone, leaving work at the office, and making time for vacations. I now think it’s just the opposite, that it’s not about respecting boundaries at all, but rather about letting your various vocations and identities commingle so that it’s sometimes hard to tell when your working and when you’re just living.”

This is the goal for me: to have working and living become so similar as to be indistinguishable.

This book is worth picking up if you feel the same.

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One Response to 'How to Juggle Multiple Careers'

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  1. […] the other day, I posted on leading a slash life, and mentioned a lingering desire to start up a regular reading […]


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