Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘Scanner’

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.

6 Reasons I’m Saying No (to Others and Myself)

In Career, Freelance, Tasmania on January 25, 2012 at 10:58 am

As a compulsive over-committer, as someone who has (in the past) confused busy-ness with productivity, as someone who is so inspired by ideas that I want to be involved in everything… I’m saying no more in 2012. Here’s why…

1. I am tired of being the messenger. It’s time for my own message!

This is an occupational hazard for many writers and designers – anyone who communicates for a living. Sometimes, it feels like your whole career has consisted of working on the achievements of others. I have a lot of energy and ideas, and I believe in being generous (in fact, I frequently give away my ideas for free). But, when I spend all my time helping others achieve their goals, it leaves too little for my own. Yet I clearly have something people want: people pay for my advice, my opinions and my ideas… so I should respect this more.

2. I want people (read: ‘Tasmanians’) to respect creative work

Although the issue is widespread, the tendency to devalue the creative process and product is particularly endemic in Tasmania. Too many people want things for free, or cheap, or are slow to pay. I’ve worked hard to be financially independent, and I don’t have to tolerate this attitude. In saying no – to low-paid jobs, or ones that don’t respect the time and effort it takes to create – I’m stating that I value my, and others’, creativity. It’s important to educate people on the value of creativity; being selective (and explaining your reason) helps to do this.

3. I need to focus

I am a scanner. I like doing many different things – and I can do many different things. It’s great to be multi-talented; but, if unfocused, it can manifest itself as scattered and distracted. I blithely start countless projects in the hope that one of them will be the lightbulb that shows me what I really want to do with my life. What I should be doing, is taking the time to stop and consider what truly matters to me – not expect this enlightenment to come from external sources. Just because I can do anything, doesn’t mean I should!

4. I believe there is enough to go around

But I didn’t always believe this. I have previously felt pressured to do something right now in case the opportunity passed me by. From a young age, we’re indoctrinated in the concept of the Scarcity Principle: that there’s not enough to go around, and everyone’s in competition for financial gain, creative recognition, whatever… But you should challenge this false idea. Believe that what you have to say will be valuable, whenever you choose to tell it.

5. I feel there are more sustainable and satisfying ways to use my talents

Although my career has not been traditional, the way I’ve offered my services has been. In other words: reactionary. People want something, I deliver it. My skills and talents are charged out by the hour, or the word, or the job. I expend the effort, then it’s in the public domain for a short period of time. This is conventional business practice, and most people follow it. But I want better. I can create a business model for myself that means I can pass on my ideas and advice in a more sustainable way; one that’s not restricted to hourly rates or dependent on me being physically present… More on this another day.

6. I crave a sanity buffer

Once upon a time, I only had to worry about myself. I could stay up all night to meet a deadline. Those days are long gone, and I now have no control over huge portions of my life. If things are going well, I can juggle my commitments well; but if my child gets sick, everything falls apart. It’s stressful to be sailing so close to the wind. More space, please!


  • I’ve just said no to someone who wants to meet for (another) coffee, to ask my opinion, for free (again), on their project;
  • I’ve said no to something I would’ve usually loved to work on – because the timing was insane, and the person wasn’t prepared to compensate me for that;
  • I’ve said no to continuing on with a committee that was far too time-consuming; and
  • I’ve said no to my Masters (again), as uni will always be there when I’m ready – right now, however, it’s not directly relevant to the achievements I’m focused on this year…

I am discovering that if you say no to more things, you create more space and time to consider each request as it comes in; making it easier to choose wisely rather than simply react.


%d bloggers like this: