How to design a portfolio life

Lynda Smith, Chartered Wealth Solutions client, Retire Successfully Retirementor and CEO of The Refirement Network, reflects on how creating a portfolio life is a practical way to continue to contribute in retirement.

The world of work is changing for all of us, young and old. The internet and the exponential speed at which technology is changing the world around us means that we may long to leave the stressful corporate world and find a way to combine a number of interests that keep us financially engaged and doing work we love.

Portfolio life was a term coined by the business guru Charles Handy in his book The Age of Unreason, published in 1989. Mr Handy explained the concept as “a portfolio of activities – some we do for money, some for interest, some for pleasure, some for a cause… the different bits fit together to form a balanced whole greater than the parts”.

Portfolio life in retirement

When coaching my clients a number of years before retirement, I try and help them to define their passion and talents and what they would like to do with their next season. I use the diagram below to help them unpack their unique picture.

Once we have completed the exercise we have some great ideas to chat about.

Everyone has different needs and desires and it is critical to experiment and plan what your next season may include. You may want to do some consulting, serve on a board, do some writing or facilitating and even share your skills as a volunteer in your area of passion. A mix of different roles constitutes a “portfolio career”.

Some of the work may be paid for and some may be for free. It is more important in this season to balance your work, leisure and family time, and for each family this will be different.

The benefits of this kind of work life are that you can continue to earn, remain intellectually stimulated, have flexibility and will most probably be happier.

Technology allows us the opportunity to do some of this work virtually and not always to be commuting. It also allows global opportunities to be a part of the mix.  It is important to discover your unique skills and how you want to manage this process. Once you are clear about your roles and have engaged with some practice in the market place, it is important to build your profile and market yourself. Your networks are critical and will enable introductions and opportunities.

Many young people are also engaging in portfolio careers as a result of wanting the freedom to move around, earn and grow. Technology has enabled a new part of our economy called the demand or gig economy and this too may form part of your portfolio. The article cited here explains more about this as part of your possible portfolio.

Longevity has gifted us with an extra season of life and this allows us to design a life unique for us in our early retirement years. Take the time to think through your skills, passions, talents and hobbies, work with a career coach and design your personal masterpiece.

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