portfolio life

I’ve worked with lots and lots of students, faculty, staff, friends, and Life Design Catalysts over the years, so I’m always thinking about the world of “work.” I think back to previous generations in my family – like my parents and grandparents – whom, for the most part, worked in the same job at the same company for most of their working lives. They retired from their companies and rode off into the sunset. However, that won’t be me. I’m at my fifth higher education institution now – and it’s been an interesting journey. My academic career started in 1989, where I spent:

  • 10 years at the University of Delaware
  • 7 years at the College of New Jersey
  • 1 year at the College of William and Mary
  • 15 years at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro

And now, the last 6 months at Davidson-Davie Community College. Although I haven’t been at a system long enough to get full benefits, at least I understand what I like and what I don’t like about jobs and work.

I’ve always been fascinated by the term “portfolio life,” where instead of focusing on doing ONE THING at ONE PLACE for the rest of one’s life, you venture into different areas based on your interests, skills, passions, etc. throughout your life. Even though all of my experiences have been in higher education, each place provided me a little more information about me and my “work.” Plus, I actually did start two businesses while employed full-time – the Dream Big Institute in 2011 and the Life Design Institute (with my friend, Stephanie) in 2019.

I can say that I’ve had three influences that have fueled my interest in the “portfolio life”: (1) the book “Portfolio Life: The New Path to Work, Purpose, and Passion After 50” by David Corbett, (2) another book, “The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do” by Jeff Goins, and (3) Steve Tomlinson’s TED Talk, “Choose Your Own Adventure: Career (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ_P7col8c0). The books helped me percolate and develop tools to help myself and others identify and develop their “career portfolio”; the TED Talk really helped me define how I needed to construct my “job” at UNCG once I knew that it was time to go. At the end of my tenure at each place, the pieces of advice from the video that worked best for me (although I didn’t have terms in my first three gigs) were:

  • “Don’t discard”
  • “Lead with what you love.”
  • “Bend your job until it breaks.”
  • “Find a way to make the job that you have more like the one you imagine.”
  • “Get freedom by facing fear.”

If you have an interest in developing your career portfolio and/or living the portfolio life, check out these articles:

Have fun as you continue to develop your portfolio life!


3 thoughts on “portfolio life

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