Having one career for your whole life is getting rare. Not only are people leaving past careers to start a new one, but often they are juggling more than one at a time. The new workforce generation brings new values and new rules. Bosses are becoming more flexible, allowing their employees to work out of the office and to have alternative schedules and leaves of absences. In the past, changing employers and having gaps in work experience were like sins on a resume. Now these fluctuations are more tolerated and excusable. With this new freedom comes more opportunity to find a career balance that fits you. Author Gail Sheehy supports the idea of having multiple careers, "A single fixed identity is a liability today. It only makes people more vulnerable to sudden changes in economic conditions. The most successful and healthy among us now develop multiple identities, managed simultaneously, to be called upon as conditions of change. Recent research also suggests that developing multiple identities is one of the best buffers we can erect against mental and physical illness."
Marci Alboher describes how to effectively manage a life of multiple careers in, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. Although I wouldn't say this is a great read, it does have some good tips and resources that are helpful for working people.
How to Find Your Slash Career:
Sometimes "finding your passions" requires slowing down, removing yourself from the fast track life, and playing around a bit. You may start up many projects or volunteer jobs before anything solidifies. This is normal and simply part of the process. Slowly down doesn't have to mean quitting your day job. A vacation, reducing hours at work, or passing up opportunities for promotion may be enough to open up time and energy to new endeavors. The key is providing enough space for something new to begin. Having a slash career involves comfort with new beginnings because a career is always changing and building upon itself.
Slash careers are for seeking fulfillment and not financial gain. One man mentioned is a Rabbi by day and a Comedian by night. A former lawyer transitioned into producing films and continues to use her law skills when dealing with contracts. One man runs a non-profit business while holding his job as a computer programer.
Getting Your Employer to Work With You:
Some careers lend themselves to slash careers better than others. If your presence in the office is interpreted as a direct reflection of your devotion and contribution to your job, then having other jobs will be seen as a threat. One woman decided to keep her interest in film production a secret from her law firm because she feared it may cause her to lose a chance of becoming partner. On the other hand, web designing is a side career than can go with almost anything. Teaching also provides a steady schedule which lends itself nicely to summer and evening endeavors. Many computer based jobs can be done remotely and on your own schedule.
Turn your handicaps into advantages. One mother had to bring her infant with her to a job interview where she demonstrated her multitasking abilities by reviewing the company's marketing strategy while changing a diaper. More employers are open to reduced work schedules and flexible hours as long as a win-win situation can be negotiated. Time away from the office means less overhead for the company and since a turn over costs about 1.5 times your salary, your employer is motivated to keep you around.
Some employers worry that moonlighting means you'll be exhausted and underperform, but often the opposite happens. By adding another role, you reinvigorate the old. Although you may be working more hours than before, each role represents a different part of your self, causing balance and satisfaction in your life. In my own life, I look forward to my days in the office as a part-time Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. By the time I come home I am eager to transition to my main job of being a mom. Each each of these careers compliments and strengthens the other.
Since being a parent and working any job is a slash career, Working Mother Magazine is a great resource for any working parent. They have a "100 Best Companies for Families" list that ranks companies on factors such as time off, benefits, and childcare.
Each of us is multifaceted, with a variety of strengths and talents. No one thing defines us. Since we ourselves are a moving, changing piece of art, so are the roles we play. By allowing time for multiple identities, you allow yourself to be truer to who you really are. Don't peg hole yourself. Be who you are, even if being yourself forms some unique combinations.
Take care from a Mother/Therapist/Educator/Blog Writer,
Stephanie Patterson, M.S., LMFT
Downtown San Luis Obispo and Downtown Atascadero, Ca