Break Free from the “Job for Life” Mentality

Chances are, you were not brought up to think you could explore countless possibilities. Most of us who arrived after World War II were counseled to follow a narrow path in life. Pick one thing and stick with it, no matter what. That has been the message we inherited.

But, given the opportunity to explore and to follow our hunches, most of us would discover multiple passions, talents, and skills—and not just the ones we use at work. Happily, these are the days of the “career portfolio” and there is no harm in changing course midstream.

In fact, the notion of the single, lifetime occupation is rapidly losing popularity as more and more of us decide we want a life that includes chapters, not a repetitious story.

Long before it was fashionable, my Aunt Agnes built a lively portfolio that began with teaching in elementary schools. She went on to work for a financial services company, ran a college bookstore, and worked in a mission hospital in Nigeria for several years before taking up writing. In her 60s, she married for the first time and threw herself into grandparenting with the same gusto she had brought to her various occupations.

Career portfolios are as unique as the people creating them. Look at Cliff Wilson, who worked as an attorney in San Francisco but indulged his passion for boats on the weekends. Now he’s running catamaran charters down in Belize and loving the life there. His wife Sherry, who is also a sailor, was a physical therapist in her previous life but always loved to cook. She prepares gourmet food for the tourists who hire their boats. They proved to be such an inspiration to their son that he has joined them in the business. You can read all about them in the current issue of Incomes Abroad.

Take a look at work you’ve done in the past. What parts did you love, were you great at? Can you transplant skills to new undertakings? Consider, too, how you spent your time outside your work. Like Cliff Wilson, you may have been nurturing a passion on the weekends long before giving any thought to turning it into your livelihood.

Philosophers have often reminded us that what we are is more important than what we have. Passionate entrepreneurs live that every day. Those who have studied human potential seem to arrive at the same conclusion: when we begin to make available to ourselves our own possibilities it’s like drilling a well to an untapped energy reserve, like finding a bank account we haven’t used.

Explore. Discover. Create. Then see how endless possibilities turn into endless profits. In Incomes Abroad, we bring you the stories every month of expats who are doing just that—and tell you how you could do it, too. If you want to read more, try out Incomes Abroad for yourself today.

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