Tip of the Week: Slash Your Career

If you’re feeling stagnant and you’re wanting some new challenge, you could ditch what you’re doing and start something altogether different. But that’s disruptive and scary. Author/speaker/coach Marci Alboher suggests an alternative in her book One Person/Multiple Careers: add a slash. Don’t stop what you’re already doing. Add something alongside your current work. You can have more than one occupation at once, Alboher suggests, and there are many good reasons to do so.

Creating a slash career allows you to personalize your work to your skills and interests, explore different facets of your personality with lowered risk to your wallet, and take advantage of today’s increasingly flexible and fluid workplace. Some slash careers add up to more than the sum of their parts — as I learned recently when the au pair coordinator in our neighborhood shared with me that she also works as an interior decorator, finding in the au pair host families a built-in source of clients and referrals for her design business.

Alboher’s book offers plenty of real-world stories and practical advice for how to combine whatever income-earning opportunities you want, from lawyer/filmmaker/mother to actor/realtor to cowboy/poet. Some of her tips on starting to slash that resonated with me include these:

  • If you plant a lot of seeds, some will die and some will blossom into thriving plants. The same is true for the various slashes you cultivate in your life.
  • Taking on a slash — or exploring your field from a different perch — can make you better at your original work.
  • When launching a slash that’s related to your original field, make sure to keep one foot in your old world. It will keep you connected to the issues and enhance your credibility as people learn about your new line of work.
  • When you try to turn a hobby into a full-time career, there is a lot of pressure to succeed. Instead, if you take it on as a slash, the pressure to succeed is off. You already have a career, so there’s a lot less to lose.

Of course the web offers many ways of expanding yourself with another slash: build a tech support business or emcee webinars or try virtual world entrepreneurship or serve as an online community manager.

The next time you need something new in your work, think about whether a slash might be the way to bring it into your life.

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