The magic of a slash career
Do you know about slash careers? I first heard of this idea from listening to author and researcher Brene Brown. Many of us have them. They are usually what we are passionate about but don’t think we can make any money doing. At least not real money, the kind that can sustain us and help us have the lifestyle we want. So instead we become an accountant and make jewellery on the side. Or in my case, a communications director who coached women in her free time; typically, in the very early morning, every evening and weekends.
I started my practice of coaching around my job about 10 years ago.I qualified and became certified over two years. I coached from hotel rooms in NY while traveling on business. I coached at weekends in between taking kids to rugby training and catching up on chores. I coached as much as I could in the hours I had. I thought that coaching would always be my hobby and that thing I would do for fun on the side while working full time in my “real” career.
So what is a slash career?
This term was coined by writer Marci Alboher in her book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. Someone with a slash career generates multiple income streams from simultaneously working in two or more different careers. One may feed their children, while the other feeds their soul. When I came across this term, I thought about my work and my side hustle. I looked around and saw a lot of other professionals doing the same. At first, I thought it was just all of us expressing our creativity in a healthy way. Then I started looking deeper into it and saw something different than just a nice hobby on the side. I was, and still am, passionate about coaching women. I coach almost every day. And it felt great, and it still feels great. I discovered it was a second career, not just a hobby.
How to develop a slash career
Consider what you want and the kind of lifestyle you want to live. We all want different things, so what do YOU want? Start from there and use that to form a budget. How much money do you need in order to have the life you want? Then think about what you enjoy. Not necessarily what fuels your passion, but what are those things that are fun and challenging to you? Will they pay the bills? If so, go for it. Stretch yourself into work that is good, and even great at times. Full-time work does not have to meet all your needs. That is where your slash career comes in. Start something on the side that brings you pure joy. That one thing that you could do for hours and it seems like only minutes have ticked by. And keep pursuing this dream work. Be intentional and serious about your slash career.
You may be wondering why you would stick with the full-time work if the slash career is so important. You will not be wasting your time in full-time, pay the bills, kind of work. Trust me on this, no learning or training or experience is ever a waste. There are things you will learn about yourself and others in this kind of work that will be invaluable. Build that foundation, stand on it, and have a great slash too. You can have both. And you will be much richer, in experience and cash, if you do.
Is now the time to move to a slash career?
The idea of a slash career is very appealing to the millennial generation who are uneasy at the idea of having one career their whole life. It is also very appealing to those who are in midlife and beyond and are looking for more. Coaching, has been my slash for nearly 10 years, and more than 2500 hours of client time. I am very grateful for the foundation I built in working full time in corporate work because I was able to learn professional, business and people skills, and how to be a manager and then a leader of a large global communications function. I would not have been able to learn these things through my slash career alone. And it has given me great grounding for my coaching.
The wonderful thing about having a slash career is that you don’t have to choose between your full-time job and what you do on the side. You can do both. You can simultaneously build a solid foundation of skill in an area you like and do that thing which feeds your soul on the side. And one day you may find that your side gig is your primary job and not your slash anymore. Coaching became my full-time career and then I found post divorce and with a different financial set of cards to play with that it is my slash again. And that’s ok. But that’s the way life is and my side gig keeps my fires burning.