Becoming A Slashie: A Smart Career Choice Or A Path To Burnout?

What does this string of words mean to you?

Accountant / Entrepreneur / Surfer / Activist / Father / Philanthropist / Blogger.

You got it. This person is a shameless slashie.

Or slasher.

Or multipotentialite. (Sounds like a rare rock formation found deep in a cave.)

Or, for the more formal among us, a portfolio careerist.

RISE OF THE SLASHIE.

Some of my first childhood memories are of relatives asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m sure if I asked for a virtual show of hands, many of us would have this experience in common.

It seemed that society was set up such that we had to pick a field and stick with it.

Once chosen, we would study it at university, get a job in that field and do that work until we retired. From a young age, we were programmed to believe that if we didn’t follow that path, the fabric of society would begin to unravel.

We had to do our part.

True?

EVIDENTLY NOT FOR EVERYONE.

While it’s a fact that many people have found fulfillment and success at the hands of an intensely focused career, the straight and narrow isn’t right for everyone.

And for those who fall into the latter camp, their day has officially come.

Journalist / Author / Speaker Marci Alboher, who penned One Person/Multiple Careers (heed the slashes) defines slashies (or slashers) as individuals who've created a "portfolio career" involving multiple identities.

Meaning, their income is a combination of part-time work, temporary work, freelance assignments or a personal business—or they work a full-time job, while pursuing other money-making interests or hobbies.

The key phrase here is multiple identities—which takes my mind right to multiple personalities. And indeed, if you’re not suited for this lifestyle, it might make you feel a tad schizophrenic.

So, who is the slasher lifestyle right for? Any why do people go down this path?

Ironically, job security comes up as a popular reason.

Here’s what Irene McConnell, Managing Director of personal branding consultancy Arielle Careers has to say about it:

“Anyone who has found themselves fired, retrenched or simply stuck in the wrong job understands the importance of moving multiple careers forward and not putting all career eggs in one basket. By juggling multiple careers, one can have options....”

INSURANCE AGAINST UNPREDICTABLE SETBACKS.

The slashie emerged like a phoenix from the last major global economic downturn of 2008/9.

McConnell’s message is that, if you’re concerned with the possibility of another downturn, being a slashie is a smart option. Don’t give up your security to pursue your dreams. Keep your main course in the center of your plate…just surround it with tasty side dishes.

Very sensible advice for those not fully prepared to embrace their inner slashie-ness.

But something isn’t sitting quite right with me.

Am I alone in envisioning a scenario where balancing a full-time career with an entrepreneurial pursuit for the rest of your working life could become, em, how do I put this…

A RECIPE FOR A HEART ATTACK?

Let’s look at it from another perspective. If you became rich tomorrow, and money was no object, what would you do with your life?

Did you give one answer, or several?

If you gave one answer, and you really mean it from the bottom of your soul (remember money is no object), your slashie potential is low. It’s okay, though, we need specialists in the world.

Don’t let the multipotentialites make you feel like there’s something wrong with you for not joining their club.

Because they can’t even pick a single term to describe themselves. Just saying…

If you’re decisive and committed, be proud. It’s who you are.

But if, from the bottom of your soul when money is removed from your reality, you tend toward multiple identities – also be proud. It’s who you are.

Emilie Wapnick, author of How to Be Everything, spells out what she calls the three superpowers of a multipotentialite (her term):

1. IDEA SYNTHESIS

Innovation has been proven to happen at the intersection of at least two fields, which is the realm of the multipotentialite.

2. RAPID LEARNING

Multipotentialites dive deep into many disparate topics. They’re most comfortable being a beginner and are less afraid than most people of learning new things.

3. ADAPTABILITY

Multipotentialites can morph into whatever they need to be in any situation because they’re so versatile.

Fast Company recently tweeted that adaptability may matter more than any individual accomplishment on your resume.

ANY OF THOSE SUPERPOWERS STRIKE A CHORD IN YOU?

If so, and you’re thinking of adding a slash or two to your career portfolio, here is one major factor to consider:

Are you a strong multitasker, hyper organized and an efficient user of time?

If you’re lacking on this practical level, even the sexiest superpowers won’t save you. So, be honest with yourself.

Could it be that you’re avoiding a deeper issue, such as being burned out with your current career, but you can’t muster the motivation to make a more profound change?

Again, be honest.

But if you’re truly destined to become a slashie, need to not limit yourself to one path.

PROVIDED YOU DO THESE THREE THINGS:

1. SAVE YOUR MONEY.

Have enough set aside to deal with any impending setbacks or unexpected disasters.

2. HAVE ONE CONSISTENT AND DOMINANT ROLE IN YOUR PORTFOLIO.

If you’re too flighty, recruiters will sniff you out immediately. As will prospective clients for whatever your side hustles may be. Plus, it’s more stable for your income to have a major focus.

3. REMEMBER YOUR BRAND.

Never forget that you’re a brand. Every brand has to stand for something. Every element of your career portfolio needs to map back to your brand purpose. Don’t get sloppy with your reputation.

ONE LAST THOUGHT.

Da Vinci was a Painter / Scientist / Engineer/ Mathematician.

Michelangelo was a Sculptor / Painter / Architect / Poet.

Multidimensionality was accepted (even expected), cultivated and revered in Renaissance society. Perhaps we haven’t done ourselves any favors by buying into our culture of the boxed identity.

Which brings me to the most compelling point that Emilie Wapnick made:

Embrace your inner wiring – whatever that may be.

By Steven McConnell, director of marketing at Australian personal branding services company Arielle Careers.