A few years ago I experienced a breakthrough. I can’t pinpoint the exact day or time. I can tell you that it happened when I gave myself permission to actually do all of the things I love to do. In that moment, I began to realize this game changing truth: It is okay to do more than one thing.

After years of thinking of many of my strengths as gifts I would have to use “on the side” I gave myself permission to shift out of the old paradigm and began to mold a new career focus that was integrative and fulfilling. The result? I got to pay attention to my interests, my values and my gifts. Without the former blocks I started to do what I love.

What is a portfolio career anyway? It’s a career that weaves together multiple interests, skills, or disciplines. It’s becoming more common, and it’s a brilliant career path to take. More on that in a minute.

First, let’s backtrack for a second. How did I develop my vocational paradigm in the first place? I grew up in community contexts where people had a designated role they inhabited when it came to vocation. Teacher. Nurse. Foreman. Musician. Farmer. Professor. This wasn’t a bad thing. It just limited my exposure. For a time I was happy to pour myself into a single vocation. It felt safe and focused. It was easy to explain. It was a clear lane to occupy. However, It wasn’t long before I grew restless and looked for other ways to express other aspects of my authentic self. If this resonates with you… know that you are not alone! In actuality, many individuals are bi-vocational or multi-vocational… both equally valuable paths to take.

Being multi-vocational brings with it a tremendous amount of joy, freedom, and self-expression. It can also bring a great deal of challenge. One of the biggest challenges that can emerge if you are multi vocational is communicating to others who you are and what you can do. So I thought I’d share a few pieces of advice that have helped me and numerous clients. Follow these four tips to learn how to communicate your multi-vocational nature in career conversations.

Tip # 1: Rank your top 2-3 vocations in order of significance to you. Express these in career conversations.

In my case, (though the order always changes…) I am a therapist, business owner and coach/speaker. I’m also an artist, a musician, an intuitive healer… the list goes on. Remember that what we do is an expression of who we are, but it doesn’t neatly sum up who we are. When you have a new career opportunity, share your top two, and allow the other pieces to become known over time.

Tip #2: Keep your projects to yourself!

Being multi-vocational means you are inevitably working on 5-10 projects at once. After all, why wouldn’t you start a nannying business while you go to med school, and moonlight as a cellist on the weekends? Makes sense to me! People rapidly lose interest when they are given too much information, so pick a few close friends to share your dreams, your wild ideas and your in-process projects with. Then summarize your work in conversation and point your listener to something recent and tangible if they ask.

Tip #3: Understand your audience.

If you are speaking with someone who is coming from a single vocation context, celebrate them and the way they have honed their craft! If you receive pushback, dismissiveness or a confused response when you describe what you are up to, recognize that this individual’s experiences may be vastly different than your own. Honor the difference, redirect the conversation as needed and stay connected to your goals.

Tip #4: Speak to your listener’s values.

When engaging a lucrative career opportunity, speak to your listener’s values and interests. This tip actually comes from John DeMartini, a human behavior specialist. If you are speaking to a corporate CEO, speak to the parts of your career that are immediately relevant. Cut to the chase and avoid lengthy disclosures about your other interests.

These 4 tips are just the beginning. There’s lots more to learn when it comes to being multivocational. For 1:1 coaching on how to navigate a portfolio career, contact me (Lindsay @Quella.Kara). You’re in for the career adventure of a lifetime!


Lindsay Quella Kara is a therapist, entrepreneur and coach. Lindsay is co-owner of Voice Hands Heart, an integrative healing practice in Boulder, CO.


Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash