Why the WHY is so important...

Why would somebody want to move from corporate into a portfolio career?

Well, the answer could be very, very personal and there really isn't a fixed answer to this question. So what is the trigger that creates even the thought of moving out of corporate?

For some people, it could just be about freedom.

But freedom from what exactly…that's the question!

Is it freedom from another person's agenda? Freedom from a company's rules? Is it freedom from clients?

All this needs to be explored as you consider this transition, because moving into a portfolio career, doesn't mean that you can escape from rules, routines, or even the demands of clients. Because at the end of the day, you're still providing service and value to others. And you still have to meet the needs of your market.

So what is freedom exactly to you? For me, freedom is being able to choose: the kind of work that I want to do, when I want to do it, and with whom.

It doesn't mean that I don't do work; it doesn't mean that I don't have to have routines in place (that's another topic for another day) but the freedom that I want is the freedom to choose. And that's very, very clear for me.

Another Why could be Fun

And that's one of my my 3Fs: fun, flexibility and fulfillment. For me, fun is a big why because I love to have fun. I don't think work should be boring, I don't think it's only a means to an end. And I think that having a spark of enjoyment, or the energy that comes with having fun, is so energizing! It is really liberating - it makes you free and makes me feel young. Plus it makes me feel motivated to do more. And when I mean do more, that doesn't mean necessarily working harder, but putting in even more effort into the things that I'm doing and really deepening the client relationship, or even my own knowledge of the work I do.

What about Flexibility?

That relates a bit to the freedom i.e. the freedom to choose - it's the flexibility to also take time off. And, you know, be able to work from wherever I want to. So I enjoy, for example, write this blog, because I can do this in a campervan in New Zealand, in my office, at home, or even in between coaching sessions, like I'm doing right now in fact!

There is also the “big deal” WHY which is Fulfillment

For me, and for many of you out there who are even considering a portfolio career, fulfillment would be a big why. And when I say fulfillment, that means doing something that you value, doing something that gives you a sense of satisfaction, a sense of contentment, of enjoyment of freely having done something, that makes sense to you …that is important to you… that makes your heart feel light. That gives a sense of well being.

Just yesterday, I was in a in a taxi, and the taxi driver was talking to me about how he had left a very high paying job in oil and gas to become a driver. Because he could no longer sleep at night; he felt that his company's practices were going against his values, and that he could no longer stand behind what his company was doing and how they were doing it.

And for him driving was even more fulfilling even though he wasn't getting as much money because he is now able to converse with people, get to know people outside of this industry. And even more important that that, spend time with his family, especially his daughter. Back when he was in his job, he basically missed her birthday party, because he was called into some emergency; right in the middle of the party, he had to drop everything and go into his emails and phone calls to solve an emergency which really disappointed his wife and daughter. And that was his wake up call. Now, what he's doing gives him a sense of fulfillment, because he's meeting his needs of connection with people and his need of connection with the family. And that is all that really matters to him.

Spend time getting solid on your WHY

So, as you're looking into portfolio careers, really get solid on your “why”.

For most people, the first questions they ask me when I coach them on portfolio careers, are around “how do I know what to do”, “what am I going to”, “how do I transition”? There are usually a lot of “how” or “what” questions, and the “why” component often gets missed and that, I think, is the first step.

Because without that, the minute you hit a pitfall, the minute you hit a roadblock, or the minute you talk to somebody from your previous company, or a friend who you perceive to having a more stable or successful career, that's when your house of cards comes tumbling down, because you didn't build a solid foundation of what why you're doing what you're doing.

Now, I can speak to this as well, from personal experience. It took me four years to transition into a portfolio career and in the two years, every time I spoke to a friend or or I walked around the CBD, a little panic would set in. I questioned myself on why I gave up a corporate job to do what I'm doing now. And I would scour job boards online out of panic and desperation.

I was afraid of the uncertainty and I I missed the sense of belonging to an organization I. At the end of the day, even if I had interviews, my “why”s were much stronger than my fears. My “why” of needing the freedom of flexibility, wanting to be more fulfilled, and having more fun, on my terms, was such a much stronger calling for me than the security of a corporate job.

And so I never went back.

But you know, those those moments come and go, even today. And as I'm thinking about moving to New Zealand, at the end of the year with my family, I'm thinking oh, my gosh, I don't have a network that's as strong as I as the one I have here in Singapore. Should I look for a corporate job? That fear keeps coming back and the question keeps coming back to my mind.

So it's really, really super important. I can't overemphasize how important the “why” is. It's often underestimated, sometimes missed all together until you're in the midst of your transition. And if you don't address it, you may freak out and go back to a corporate job. Not necessarily a job that you really want but a job that just comes your way because it gives you that sense of security that you that you are missing.

So, what is your Why? Why do you want to consider a portfolio career? Or why have you made that step already? I’d love to hear some of yours…