Build a Portfolio Career

Building a Portfolio Career

Saturday, May 28, 2011

If I Had My Time Again...

Midlife is the time when most of us start to think back on our lives and consider what we might do differently if we had our lives over again. We might regret leaving school before we should have done because we were impatient to start earning real money. Many of us will regret some of our relationships and most of us would probably take a different career path, given another chance.

Those of us who have succeeded in life (however you measure it) will have done so due to a mix of good fortune, a gritty determination to succeed, our inbuilt intelligence and the right family support. Those of us who have fallen short will have lacked one or more of the above – that’ll be most of us then!

But we are where we are now. As so many before me have said, ‘Life isn’t a rehearsal’ and we won’t get the chance to try again so what are our options?

  • Cry into our beer and do a great impression of being a victim
  • Carry on as we are
  • Think about what’s gone before and what lessons we’ve learned
  • Look around and identify new opportunities that might be open to us
  • Set ourselves measurable targets to achieve, to improve the rest of our lives
The answer? Obviously, it’s the last option. But is it? Most of us won’t set ourselves stretching targets to achieve – that’s likely to be very uncomfortable and too much like hard work. (We’ll say we’re going to do it, of course, but will we? Unlikely…)

The answer is to do what’s best for you, in your own circumstances. It’s what you can commit to and what you are likely to achieve.

What I would say to you, is please try to leave your comfort zone. That is the single biggest thing that you can do to move your life forward. Start small – cold call a customer, pluck up the courage to start a conversation with the person that you fancy (but not if you’re already in a relationship), start an exercise regime, etc
Start small and persevere. You will be amazed at the difference that other people will notice about you – that’s a good measure isn’t it?

What would you do differently if you had your life over again?

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

Midlife Joke of the Week

A midlife man is stopped by the police around 1am and is asked where he is going at this time of   night.
The man replies, “I am going to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body”.
The officer then asks, “Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?”

“My wife” the man replies….

Friday, May 20, 2011

Job Hunting Tips For The Midlife Job Seeker

Guest post by Nicole Rodgers

We all know that the economy is down and unemployment is a very real and serious problem in our society right now. Finding work has arguably never been more difficult. This statement holds especially for midlife job seekers. Despite having years of experience, their age works against them. There is more incentive for most employers to hire younger workers who, either just out of college or otherwise new to the workplace, will be willing to work for a lower salary.

While the employment situation is bleak, that doesn’t mean that there are not steps that mature job seekers can take in order to make themselves more competitive when looking for work.

First, older job seekers must remember that many things have changed since they last likely looked for work. In particular, it is imperative to keep abreast of the latest breakthroughs in technology. If their technological skills are lacking, there is no need to fret, as they can easily get them up to speed. Taking a course in basic or intermediate computer skills will go far in making seasoned job seekers more appealing to potential employers; as will being up to date with the latest developments in business technology. Remember, being tech savvy is not just about being able to open an email, but also about being well-versed in the wide array of productivity software that is now on the market as well as social networking. Again, this is something that can easily be learned by taking a class or by buying a few books and is in no way a daunting or overly demanding task. It can be completed quite easily with a bit of hard work and determination.

Of course no amount of technological know-how will do much good if a resume never gets read. Therefore is it of the utmost importance to create a resume that will truly stand out and make a powerful impression. A resume should convey not merely that a person is qualified for a position, but instead that the employer would be remiss in not hiring an individual for a given job.

While this is where a person’s years of experience are going to shine the most, it is important to job seekers with years in the workforce to limit themselves in what they put down. Ultimately, only the last 10 to 15 years should be listed.

Here some more general guidelines to follow: Do not include personal details on your resume such as marital status or date of birth. The details that employers want are name, address, and contact information. A job seeker should make sure to highlight the skills that are relevant to the job they are applying to. Finally, if a degree was finished more than 10 to 15 years ago, it’s better to leave the date of completion off altogether.
In today’s job market, it is important for people to stay flexible and make the most of their natural personal networks. That means, if full-time work is not panning out, then part-time work should be considered as either a stop-gap measure or as part of the new economic reality. It also means that jobs may come from sources that people are already familiar with, such as contacts made in professional or civic organizations. Volunteering is also a great way to make professional contacts.

Finally, a key part of the job hunt is remaining optimistic. While optimism may not guarantee finding work, pessimism will likely ensure continued unemployment.

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging for three years; she is also blogging about budgeting techniques and finds sites to get deals on such as

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Achieving Your Goals in Midlife

An American named Charlie Whittmack recently completed a remarkable feat; the longest triathlon ever undertaken.

Firstly, Charlie swam the whole length of the River Thames up to London (he didn’t swim the London stretch due to the amount of river traffic and the dangers involved). He then swam across the English Channel to France.

Having completed the swimming section of his triathlon, he then got on his bike and cycled across Europe, into Asia and right up to the foothills of the Himalayas – an incredible distance of 10,000 miles!

After a break for medical attention following a road accident, Charlie then set out on the ‘running’ section of his triathlon – although in this case, it was more ‘climbing’ than ‘running’. Charlie climbed Mount Everest!

This is a truly amazing feat of endurance, stamina and willpower.
How did Charlie achieve this magnificent feat? When asked that question, he said ‘Every day I got up and (when I was swimming) put one hand in front of the other. That’s all I thought about – the next step.
What a lesson this is for the rest of us. Almost all of us are unlikely to complete a triathlon, let alone consider anything the size of Charlie’s effort. Yet we all have our own challenges to face which sometimes appear very daunting.
Why not follow Charlie’s example? While he was focused on achieving his goal of reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain, he managed that in his mind by thinking about what he needed to do in the ‘here and now’ – what he needed to do next. To put one hand in front of the other.
So don’t be frightened or overawed (or depressed) about the challenge facing you, think about what needs to be done next, in the context of the overall goal.
Little by little, if you keep positive, retain momentum and stay on course you will reach your goal. It’s very easy to throw in the towel if you concentrate solely on the size of the final goal.
Much less likely to throw in the towel if you’re concentrating on putting one hand in front of the other!
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

Anti Establishment Joke of the Week...

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas , and talked with an old rancher.
He told the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs."
The rancher said, "Okay, but don't go in that field over there.....", as he pointed out the location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, " Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!"

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.

"See this badge?!  This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish.... On any land!! 
No questions asked or answers given!!  Have I made myself you understand?!!"

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, 
being chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull...... 

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he'd sure enough get gored 
before he reached safety 
The officer was clearly terrified. The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs.....              

(I just love this part....)

"Your badge, show him your BADGE! !"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Midlife Depression

Guest post by Wendy Bailey

Many men and women experience the effects of a midlife crisis, however, some go through emotional and physical changes that can cause severe depression. Midlife depression differs from a midlife crisis, and it can often be more debilitating than a typical midlife transition. Many circumstances can trigger depression in someone facing a midlife change, and there are numerous forms of treatment that vary according to the individual’s needs.

What is a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis generally occurs near the age of 40. Some men and women experience the change of life much earlier or much later as well. While this is considered to be a natural part of growing older, some people have difficulties dealing with the changes. In many cases, men and women who are not capable of facing the transition may become clinically depressed. When the depression becomes severe, psychotherapy is often necessary.

What Triggers Midlife Depression?

Midlife depression is triggered by a number of internal and external stress factors. These triggers range from person to person to person, and they can be caused both positive and negative experiences. In most cases, the person affected does not realize the magnitude of each situation.

Internal stress factors include:

- Low self esteem
- Anger at a significant other
- Confusion about what the future holds
- Questions and fears about the meaning of life
- Sudden discontent or boredom with lifestyle or people
- Doubt about an intimate relationship
- A feeling that something is missing

External stress factors include:

- A sudden change in job requirements
- Weddings
- Births
- Financial issues
- Family emergencies
- The death or illness of a loved one
- Changes in health
- Relationship upsets

What are the Symptoms of Midlife Depression?

Everyone experiences midlife depression in a different way. Men and women face different challenges, and their reactions to these stresses differ as well. Because a number of people ignore the feelings that are brought on by depression, it is important to identify the symptoms in order to prepare a proper treatment.

Depression symptoms include:

- Hopelessness or extremely pessimistic views
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Guilty thoughts
- Feelings of extreme helplessness or suicidal thoughts
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Anxiety or restlessness
- A change in sleeping or eating patterns
- Chronic physical ailments such as stomach problems or headaches

How is Midlife Depression Treated?

There are many forms of treatment for midlife depression, and each person responds differently. For some, a proactive approach is all that is needed. One of the best ways to prevent depression or limit its effects is to develop a healthy lifestyle. Positive alterations in eating and exercise habits can go a long way when it comes to preventing depression. Another way to keep depression in check is to get plenty of regularly scheduled sleep.

Developing healthy relationships is also beneficial in preventing midlife depression. In later years, it is essential to have close relationships that are born from trust and compassion. Maintaining healthy relationships allows a person to lean on someone else in times of need. This can prevent many of the depression triggers from taking a firm hold on a person’s psyche.

When the feelings of depression become severe and life-altering, it may be necessary to seek the help of a professional. A therapist can use behavioral therapy or antidepressants to curb the harmful effects of depression. In most cases, midlife depression can be remedied when the right course of action is taken. Men and women struggling with midlife depression can find happiness with the proper treatments.

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

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tess Hardwick - Changing Career in Midlife

Guest Post by Tess Hardwick

Five years ago I sat in my large corner office in downtown Seattle with a view of the Puget Sound, behind a cherry desk holding business cards with the Director of Human Resources title etched in blue letters under my name.  Outside that office sat my nearly perfect staff, taking care of every detail I asked for.  Down the hall sat my smart and compassionate female manager. I had great compensation, bonus opportunities, and the esteem of really smart people good at their jobs; all a culmination of fifteen years steadily building a career.

I was also pregnant with my second daughter.  Every morning before I entered my corner office, I dropped my three-year-old daughter off at a Montessori, five blocks from where I worked.  Each morning, her enormous blue eyes that were round like a doll, filledwith tears and her arms reached out to me, begging me not to leave her.  Minutes later, as I took the elevator up to the 26th floor of the high rise that smelled of Starbucks and new carpet, I was plagued with guilt and an aching sense that I was living someone else’s life. 

Despite all I had, I was miserable.

I yearned to be with my daughter more, feeling keenly that time was slipping away, that she was growing up while I sat behind that desk.  Also, I yearned to do work that inspired me instead of work that made me feel as if I were shriveling into a mockery of my former self.  The self I was when I was a young woman just out of high school who studied acting at the University of Southern California.  Back then I imagined the world like a tree that dripped with succulent fruit ready for my plucking.  I dreamt of being a writer, joking with friends about penning the great American novel, knowing that buried beneath my normal exterior was a storyteller.  But as the months of the calendar turned, page after page, year after year, the further I felt from that dream.

And life happens.  Bills and marriage, the desire to have a baby that is biological or hormonal, maybe even spiritual, because it is not a choice that makes logical sense.

And that urge to live the life I felt I was meant for, nagged at me.  Maya Angelou says you know what you’re truly passionate about if you’re willing to sacrifice for it.

I was willing.  I vowed to write that novel.

There were finances to think of.  There was my husband, who five years before this, had married a woman that brought in as much income as he did.  Regardless, after my second baby came, I closed the door to that corner office for the last time.  I gave up my power suits for sweats and t-shirts with baby spit-up down the back.  I spent the time I wanted with my children.  I was the mother I wanted to be.  And I wrote that novel I’d dreamt of for twenty years.

How?  By focusing on exclusively on what I wanted to accomplish. We sold our large home and downsized to a town home.  In addition to my own children, for extra money, I took care of other people’s children.  In every spare moment I conjured a keen and determined concentration, until word-by-word, Riversong, was done.

I gave myself the deadline of getting it done before I turned 40.  I made my deadline.  Then I spent another two years trying to find a publisher, which I did, finally, in the most unexpected way. In the meantime, I wrote another novel that will be ready for publication in November.  And now, people are buying and reading my work.  The day it went up on, I knew the dream was real. 

I’m not even close to making the kind of money I made as an HR Director.  But I’m free.  I’m happy.  When I look back on my life, I won’t remember that corner office.  I’ll remember the way my now eight-year-old daughter’s eyes widened and filled with light the first time she saw Riversong in book form.  I’ll remember the comments from my readers the last few weeks, telling me how much they love the book.  I’ll remember the delighted faces of my friends at last Saturday’s book launch party.

So whatever it is that you dream of, think how much you’re willing to sacrifice for it. Next, make a practical plan.Then, go do it.  The world is waiting for you, like baskets underneath that tree of life, anticipating, hoping, for your fruitful gifts to fall, one by one, until it is full.

Tess's novel 'Riversong' is out now. To find out more, visit