Build a Portfolio Career

Building a Portfolio Career

Friday, January 28, 2011

If you always do what you've always done...

We all know the saying 'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got' (or words to that effect). But in today's harsh economic climate, is this still true? If we always do what we've always done, the chances are that we won't get what we've always got, we'll get less! Why? Because our competitors are trying harder. The goalposts have moved and if we don't do things differently, we'll actually be moving backwards, relative to others.

The reward for the same effort will be smaller. Make sense?

So what to do? The obvious answer is to work harder at what we do. The less obvious answer is to work smarter at what we do. Here are five ways to work smarter:

1. Set yourself ONE goal.
Yes, you want to have several goals, and that's fine, but set one primary goal. A goal that you really MUST achieve. This can be a long term goal, a medium term goal or a short term goal. If it's a substantial goal, break it down into smaller goals, with timelines, so that you can see how you are progressing towards your primary goal. Have other goals by all means, but don't lose sight of the primary goal.

2. Get organised
We all know this, but how organised are you? How many of the tasks that you do are duplicated? How often do you mislay documents (printed or electronic?) and spend too much time looking for them - or worse still, rewriting them?
Organise your filing systems, especially your electronic files. Give each of your electronic files a sensible name and the date that you saved it. Don't call it 'Jane's file', call it 'Jane's workplan - 12/2/2011' That way, you've got a fighting chance of finding it again. If you share files with other people, a sensible filename will save you both time.
Clear your desk and work with the papers that you need at that time. Don't surround yourself with papers and post it notes that will distract you from the task in hand.

3. Delegate
What tasks can you delegate to others? Do you have a virtual assistant? Concentrate on doing the things that you're good at and delegate other specialist tasks to others who can do them quicker, more efficiently and more effectively. Can't afford to do that? What about trading work - you help me and I'll help you. This doesn't work in all situations but you'll be surprised how often it can work - ask the question!

4. Plan your work
This is something else that we all know we should be doing but how many of us really plan our days, our weeks and our months? How many objectives do we set ourselves? Don't go overboard and plan everything down to the finest detail (especially your leisure time) but do give yourself a chance by thinking about what you need to do and writing a plan, however brief. If you don't know where you're going, you'll never know when you get there.

5. Do one thing at a time
This follows on from point 2 above. It's very easy to get distracted - Facebook and Twitter can eat time if you let them (and you do, don't you?!)
If you have a portfolio career, or you work on several projects simultaneously, it is very easy to get distracted. The phone may ring and someone needs to ask you a question about a project which you're not working on at the time. Answer the question, then get back to the project which you were working on without  meandering off and wondering why the person asked you the question.

Do the IMPORTANT tasks before the easy ones (and the ones you like doing). Don't put things off! So don't always do what you've always done - do something smarter!
Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here

Monday, January 17, 2011

A post from Seth Godin

A post by Seth Godin which is relevant to people in midlife everywhere

Cashing the check

A check in your wallet does you very little good. It represents opportunity, sure, but not action.
Most of us are carrying around a check, an opportunity to make an impact, to do the work we're capapble of, to ship the art that would make a difference.
No, the world isn't fair, and most people don't get all the chances they deserve. There are barriers due to income, to race, to social standing and to education, and they are inexcusable and must fall. But the check remains, now more than ever. The opportunity to step up and to fail (and then to fail again, and to fail again) and to continue failing until we succeed is greater now than it has ever been.
As Martin Luther King Junior spoke about a half a lifetime ago,
"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late."
See Seth Godin's blog at:
Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Middle aged women in the media

Extract from Amanda Platell's column in The Daily Mail

Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly’s ­victory in her ageism battle with the BBC has been hailed as a historic decision for women of a certain age everywhere. Sorry, it was nothing of the sort.

Even if the BBC does put more mid-life women on our screens (which I very much doubt), the obsession with youth and beauty at the expense of wisdom and experience will continue to blight the lives of ordinary women in wider society.

Politicians bend over backwards to promote the rights of minorities on the grounds of their sexuality, race and religion. Yet the most neglected and ignored sector is the forty- and fifty-something mothers and wives who form the backbone of our society.

They are the glue that holds families together. They’ve lived life and have the wrinkles to prove it. They love a good time and have the laughter lines to match. A few kids and a passion for cooking means they’re not a perfect size 12 any more.
But unless they look like Carol Vorderman, they are treated as second-class citizens. Few shops make clothes to suit them. Few politicians are interested in their views. Few magazines cater for their interests. And, of course, few TV shows are made for them — or by them.

The cult of youth has all but air-brushed them out of existence. And in truth, we’re all guilty of overlooking them.

If you don’t believe me, try thinking of the last time you walked down a High Street. Doubtless, you noticed the pretty girls, couldn’t resist peeking into a pram at a bonny baby, or watched with concern as a little old lady made her way across the road.

But when did you last notice a middle-aged mum, the quiet achievers who raise our nation’s children, care for our elderly and keep our families together?
Yes, the BBC’s treatment of Miriam O’Reilly was appalling and blatantly ageist, just as it was towards Arlene Phillips and Moira Stuart. But it isn’t just the BBC that needs to readjust its attitude.
Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Your Life Belongs to You

Guest post by Patti Henry M. Ed., L.P.C.

Remember, your life belongs to you.

A friend said that to me the other day and it jolted me.  It somewhat woke me up actually.  I’d been slogging along in an unacceptable situation, and finally heard a voice inside of me cry out, “And I don’t have to!”  So 2011 is the year of change for me.

I hope it will be for you as well -- especially if you have been plodding along in a situation that doesn’t work for you, hasn’t worked for you, and isn’t going to work for you. It’s curious to me how we as human beings keep tolerating things that are not what we want in our lives.

Here’s an example.  I received a phone call last week from someone who had read my book, The Emotionally Unavailable Man.  She wanted me to tell her how to fix her fiance.  Of course that’s a red flag for me: because nobody can fix anybody but themselves.  Because that’s how it works.  Only YOU can make things better in your life. However, she wanted to try it another way: to fix him.

She then described her 62 year old fiance that she had been dating for 4 years:

“He’s like a child, someone who never grew up, someone who doesn’t take responsibility, someone you have to tell what to do and what to say, someone who says very hurtful things and doesn’t even realize it, someone who doesn’t ever take initiative,  is not dependable, isn’t working in a steady job, and can’t even pay his bills. He didn’t even get me a present for Christmas.”

I’m thinking to myself, “Really?”  Clearly this person doesn’t need to fix HIM -- she needs to fix HERSELF by taking responsibility to get out of such an unfulfilling relationship that she has allowed herself to be in for FOUR YEARS.  She then asked me if she should marry him.  Again, “Really?”  I had never spoken to this woman before and she wanted me to tell her whether or not to marry a man about whom she had nothing -- nothing -- positive to say.

Why do we think someone else knows better than we do?  Why do we look outside for answers that are inside of us?

I told this woman to write down everything she had said to me, and to have her best friend read it back to her as if the problem were her best friend’s.  After that I told her to ask herself, “What would I tell my friend to do?”  Immediately she responded with, “I would tell her to get out.  I would tell her she deserves more.  I would tell her to find an adult to marry.”

You see, we know the answers.  It’s just a matter of listening, trusting our inner voice, and being brave enough to move in the direction we want to go.

Another client of mine told me he was wanting to be married to someone who was sober.  He’d been saying that to himself for 23 years!  His wife was not interested in getting sober.   He had raised their two precious children in an alcoholic, crazy system, all the while saying he wanted to be married to someone sober.  So, the obvious is: if you want to be married to somebody sober, you have to get unmarried from somebody who isn’t sober.

That is, there is no substitute for action.  We have to move in the direction we want to go. Your life belongs to you.  Not your spouse, parents, children, friends, or boss.  You are the only one who has the power to redirect your path.  It’s an illusion to think someone else has that power.

Actually, it’s an excuse.  It’s an avoidance.  It’s a way to not do the hard stuff.  It’s a way of not growing up.  It’s a way of not being responsible -- that is, not being able to respond to a situation you don’t want in your life.

Because that’s all growing up is: having the ability to respond -- rather than react -- to ANY situation or problem that the universe hands you.  It means being courageous enough to make an unpopular decision; to make, maybe, a mistake; to make a decision that may hurt others’ feelings, etc.  It means, also, being courageous enough to claim your life as your own.

It also means being courageous enough to face our fear of being alone.

This, I think, is the single most fear that keeps people stuck.  People stay in dead relationships for years because they are afraid of being alone.  People stay in horrible jobs for years -- thinking if they lose this job they will never get another one as good.  Sort of the all or nothing thinking: if I let go of this (even thought it’s bad), I will have nothing.

Which isn’t true.  What actually happens is if you let go of something that is keeping you stuck, the Universe will swoop in to fill the vacuum with something new.  it happens every time.  Now, it might not happen immediately, but, it will happen.

I heard a story by motivational speaker Andy Andrews a while back.  He told of Cortez’s quest to take the treasure that the Incas had guarded for 600 years.  Here were the steps he took:
1. Get single focused -- he said, “I’m going to go get that treasure.”
2. Gather a support team -- he said, “I will take men who want a piece of the pie so they are invested in the project.”
3. Go for it -- be all in -- he said, “I’ll sell everything I have to buy boats for this mission.”
4. Practice saying out loud what you want in your life -- he said, “We are the conquerors!  We own the treasure!”
5. And finally, when the boats and men had landed, Cortez said 3 powerful words on the beach that inspired them beyond compare: “Burn the boats.”  Cortez said, “If we are going home, we are going home in their boats.”

Certainly that ramped up the men’s commitment.  What are the boats you need to burn?  What are the boats you are holding onto for security that are keeping you stuck?

For me, 2011 is the year of burning the boats to take my life to a different level of joy.  How about for you?

Patti Henry is a Psychotherapist and author of "The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing". See more on her website:
Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here

Friday, January 7, 2011

Your Midlife Portfolio Career

Until recently, the term 'portfolio career' applied only to high flyers in business who worked with several companies, usually at board level, giving objective advice and guidance, based on their years of corporate experience. 

Today, the term has expanded out to cover people who have multiple jobs. These jobs will all be part time, by definition and may or may not be related to each other. So, your portfolio career could include a job for which you are contracted to an employer for 2 days a week, to another employer for 1 day a week and the website business which you are running from home.

The days of one 9 - 5 job, 5 days a week have gone for many people, particularly those over the age of 45 and a portfolio career offers a great opportunity to extend yourself into new areas, develop new income streams and increase your skillset.

From the employer's point of view, managing a workforce which includes part time portfolio career workers has some additional considerations. T&Cs of employment need to be checked to ensure that the employee may be allowed to work for other, non competing, organisations. Tax and NI contributions need to be considered for people with multiple income streams. Flexibility of working may be more important to portfolio workers - they may need to change their hours/days at relatively short notice, etc

There is no doubt that portfolio working will become a common career choice in the near future, particularly for people over the age of 45. For organisations, it is a great way of getting expertise into the business without the cost of a full time employee. If you are interested in developing a portfolio career, or already have one, please add your views below - I am in the process of writing a 'How To' book on this topic and I would be very interested in your thoughts. Many thanks.

Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here