Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘Freelance’

The Portable Career

In Career, Writing on February 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I plan to go into more detail about my concept of the ‘Portable Career’ at a later stage; for now, I’d like to touch on the two things that make the Portable Career something to aspire to. With a Portable Career…

  1. You can work anyhow, anywhere, anytime (a bit like The Goodies!)
  2. You can change your medium to suit your message

What is a Portable Career?

It’s my term for working with total independence and flexibility – not only in location, but in the medium. In the 21st Century, it’s what everyone should be considering – to create less dependence on external forces beyond your control (hello, GFC 2.0).

“It’s not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change.”            (Charles Darwin)

A Portable Career is about adaptability, it’s about freedom of time and space, and freedom to flow from one way of expressing your message to another, according to the situation.

Work anyhow, anywhere, anytime

This is the obvious definition and benefit of a Portable Career. More than any other time in history, we have the ability – thanks to the internet – to make the conscious choice to work when, and where, we want. It goes beyond the conventional concept of ‘freelance’ – which still imposes financial/corporate system restrictions on the individual – and enters the realm of ‘whatever you can imagine, you can create’.

For me, a Portable Career is one that’s inherently based not on fixed products/services – ie tangible objects that are vulnerable to external forces – but on unfixed products/services – ie intangible objects that can fluidly adapt to the marketplace.

So, for example, selling online products (such as ebooks) or services (such as webinars) in a sustainable way from a no-fixed-address to an infinite audience is far preferable to sitting behind a desk, doing the 9-5, selling your skills to someone else and having a cap on your earnings and influence.

Change your medium to suit your message

This is the less obvious definition and benefit of a Portable Career, but it is the most profound one.

I change jobs and job titles often, and I have an ever-expanding eclectic set of skills, experiences and interests. I have struggled my whole career with the concept of job titles, struggled to pin down what it is that I ‘am’, and what it is that I ‘do’ – because everyone else expected me to do so. Not only have I failed to define my career in simplistic terms, so have others (I get introduced as some pretty weird things at parties!).

At times, I’ve felt on a different planet to friends and colleagues who all seem to have a chosen career path. I was alternately jealous of their certainly, and smug about my ability to be a chameleon. I’ve felt unfocused, and had a niggling sense of dissatisfaction that I couldn’t put my finger on, no matter how successful I was.

But two things happened to change that.

First, I realised I was a Scanner. Second, I read something that prompted this gob-smackingly simple, yet awe-inspiring thought:

You are not defined by the medium you work with; you are defined by the message that matters to you.

Wow. So – and without wanting to sound too self-helpy – this translated into “I should stop trying to define myself a ‘writer’ or whatever. Instead, I can view writing as simply one of the many mediums I use to communicate my message.”

By liberating yourself from conventional, restrictive and outdated job titles, and allowing yourself to change your medium to suit your message, a whole new way or working opens up. It is, I guess, the ‘intellectually portable’ approach.

So, what’s your message?
Your message = is your life purpose.

Once you’ve worked out what your message is – and make that the foundation of everything you do – you are free to change the medium as much as you like.

Time spent thinking about your life purpose is a priceless investment. I recommend Steve Pavlina’s famed method of defining your true life purpose. According to him, you’ll know when you’ve worked it out, because it’ll make you cry… This is what I got halted at, at attempt #75…

To treasure my unique voice, to tell the truth in the face of non-truths, to create with courage, to live with freedom, to love my children and to leave something for them to be proud of once I’m gone.

How do you put a Portable Career into practice?

A Portable Career means thinking laterally about my skills, talents and experiences. I do not restrict myself by conventional and accepted career paths or choices; just because I write, doesn’t mean I’m locked into being ‘A Writer’ ­– I can choose to be an entrepreneur, for example, with writing being just one channel. It’s big-picture thinking.

Now, rather than being a writer, or a journalist, or a stylist or a magazine director or a [insert job title here], I consider my self to be working to express my message, through whatever medium is appropriate. My message informs my decision on what jobs I take on (or not), how I relate to clients and what way of working I am ultimately aiming for. If you always keep your message in mind, everything flows much easier. There’s no forcing something that’s not meant to be.

It’s amazing how much focus that gives you.

4 New Years on an Island

In Career, Freelance, Island Life, Tasmania, Writing on January 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

What will island life in 2012 bring? Living in Tasmania has been, at times, very hard. It’s three years since I moved from Sydney, and this bloody island has challenged everything I thought about myself, my career, my purpose, what matters to me…

Why are islands demanding?

Why are islands so linked to artistic endeavour? Maybe it’s the isolation, maybe it’s the natural physical boundary – wrapped in a coast, an island presents the potential for complete exploration, and people always have a need to define their surroundings. It’s akin to collecting: collectors often desire things that are limited, because there’s some sort of possibility of completing that collection.

The above is a pretty accurate description of what living on an island means to me (I’m sure the Mercury won’t mind me paraphrasing myself).

Of course, I wanted Tasmania to challenge me, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t also wanted to throw in the towel.

So, prompted by the fresh western New Year (and tomorrow’s Chinese New Year), I’ve had a think about what each year in Tasmania has taught me.

For better or worse…

… 2009 was The Year of Recovery and Mistakes (and Magic)

I landed in Tasmania an exhausted, burnt-out thing. The preceding couple of years had been emotionally and financially debilitating. I was so tightly wound, I even had to learn how to sleep all over again.

As a prodigal son, I also made mistakes. I tried to transplant my Sydney way of doing things into Tasmania. My high expectations, my way of doing things very fast… not the most successful approach. There was a lot of friction. Oh, and I was fired for the very first time in my life.

Which, as it turns out, did me a favour – I launched my MADE Tasmania business not long after. I also started, and paused, my Masters (as one of the many fumbling ways to try to work out what I wanted to be doing).

The magic part of 2009 came in getting married (to someone who is the support and inspiration I didn’t even ever know I needed).

… 2010 was The Year of Consolidation and Learning

New year, new full-time advertising job.

And the clear decision to clear debts. I was on a mission. So, 2010 was a blur of full-time and freelance work… Seriously, I don’t really remember much but the fact I was working every minute. However, in hindsight, it was a year where I put down some solid foundations in the search for freedom, even if at the time I wasn’t sure what I was peddling so hard towards.

And yes, I did clear my debts. A little closer to freedom…

… 2011 was The Year of Frustration and Questioning

What. On. Earth. Am. I. Doing.

I spent the whole year asking this, in-between spinning like a mouse on a wheel. I was working hard, still managing a freelance business while working full-time. Trying to finish my novel in snatched moments. There was so much stress, and not enough time spent with my new family. The year was a whirlwind of doing – but doing for others, mind you. There was nothing I was genuinely doing for me. I said yes to a squillion projects, hoping that one of them would show me what I should be doing, yet none of them did.

I got to the end of 2011 and realised every day had been spent in a state of responsibility and commitment. No personal creativity or expression, no free weekends, no reflection, no sweet spots of getting lost in something for the simple joy of it… Everything I did, I felt obligated to do. When prompted, I couldn’t even think of one thing I loved doing just for the sake of it.

BUT it was a massive wake-up call to even realise this, to realise I was reincarnating my Sydney habits all over again, and it propelled me into having a good hard look at myself and my life.

… 2012 is shaping up to be The Year of Freedom

Ah – the Year of the Dragon (which I am; a Fire Dragon actually). My year? I’m going with that.

Only 3 weeks old, and 2012 has already brought breakthroughs of beautiful clarity. Clarity in how I want to respond to the world around me. Clarity in my purpose for being here. Just clarity for the sake of clarity…

And that is such a weight off my shoulders.

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