You’re Too Intelligent to Waste Your Life in One-Track Employment

(This is a kickass guest post by Tanja Korobka.)

Ever met a successful slasher doing it all — social media marketing, sales, tourist guiding and lifestyle blogging and getting paid for all of this? Do you love variety and get bored easily?

Me too.

I have a friend who makes a living from public speaking, writing books and hypnotherapy. How cool is that? She wakes up with great enthusiasm every morning; she meets awesome people, has interesting stories to share and generally embraces the joys of what the true work life can give.

Having multiple careers is a growing trend. It’s no longer for young creative types like actors, artists and musicians; people from all kinds of fields are now drawing income from several streams.

Some of these workers are patching together jobs out of choice. They may find full-time office work unfulfilling and are testing to see whether they can be their own boss.

My Story

Throughout my life, I’ve been forced to make black-and-white choices, which would place me in a very defined category.

In my teens, I attended dancing classes, did track and field and wrote for my school newspaper. Singularity has never worked for me. I’ve always liked the idea of mashing up interests to keep me excited.

Kids’ passions are naturally plural — they play, draw and cycle, so why did a teacher later in my schooling ask me to choose between the humanities and “realities” when it came to making subject choices? And why is being fascinated by both physics and literature considered so wrong? It really frustrated me as a kid. Still does.

When I entered university, it turned out that if I really wanted to make something out of myself, I needed to concentrate on one subject. The misconception about plurality is that if you’re adept at doing more than one thing, it must dilute your abilities to be good at any of them. The stupid voice at the back of my head kept telling me: I must choose one, because these roles are separated on the damn employment paper.

Why do we choose to live by the worn-out rules made up by somebody 50 years ago, when work used to be so single-track — pick a trade and climb the ladder? Don’t stop and, whatever you do, don’t even think about changing your trade; that would surely show that you’re weak.

Plurality Is a Sign of Creativity

Being defined by a single job title alone is so 20th century. No one knows what’s around the corner, but there is one known truth: there is no such thing as a job for life any more. Success is about delivering value by staying adaptable. To stay in employment, grow your business or secure the next contract, you need to be open to change, to learning a new skill and, most importantly, you must remain alert to see when those new skills resonate together to create another, even better possibility.

Many skills are transferable between industries. For example, a copywriter can easily create himself a second income stream from teaching. Teaching is, in fact, the most popular by-product of many disciplines. Can you dance? Start giving classes! Understand social media? Offer consulting services!

My friend, the one who works in hypnotherapy, needs to think on her feet as she guides her clients towards a solution in real-time. That approach stretches her creative abilities and is very useful when you’re challenged to generate new ideas. Having your foot in many doors makes it easier to cross-pollinate ideas and contacts.

Innovation is largely the art of combination. Truly revolutionary creative acts come from synthesizing across industries, as Picasso did with African and European art or Darwin did by combining insights from economics, geology and biology to come up with his theory of natural selection.

The 9-5 is Dying

I believe that plurality is a sign of creativity, and the eight-hour workday is a creativity killer.

Eight-hour people seem to be living for the weekend. I always cringe when I hear radio stations say things like, “It’s hump day,” “Three hours till the weekend” or “You’re almost there!” Almost where? Why are we constantly trying to get to a destination other than where we’re at? (Tweet!) Are our everyday lives really that miserable?

I think the idea of a 9-5 rule is meaningless. You could work more hours, or less, but the bottom line is that you only get paid if you deliver what the client wants. If your client or employer is seeking results, and that’s what you are going to be measured by, then they shouldn’t really care where you do it from or how you do it.

I like to think that soon, we will have projects rather than jobs. To work at a project is to become part of the project for X months, like joining three friends creating a startup business, for example.

To Conclude…

Slashers are the winners – they’re able to cut through the nonsense and figure out what’s required next. They’re the ones exploring and discovering the next big opportunity.

Have a side project! I believe what you do on the side will create your next job or promotion. I think the future is about multiplying your skills and streams of income, not focusing on just one.

If you’re reasonably intelligent, being employed at one role is one of the worst things you can do to support yourself. There are far better ways to make a living than selling yourself into indentured servitude.

You may be thinking that you have no real value to offer others, and being an employee and getting paid by the hour is the best you can do. Maybe you just aren’t worth that much. That is absolute nonsense. It’s part of your conditioning. As you begin to dump such brainwashing, you’ll soon recognize that you have the ability to provide enormous value to others and that people will gladly pay you for it.

Do you have multiple interests? Have you focused in on one, or found a way to pursue them simultaneously?


TanjaTanja Korobka is a blogger at . She writes about future of work, different perspective and Generation Y. Lucky Attitude is the start of a difference, out to break boundaries, stereotypes and states of mind. 

Image: Wang on Flickr

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  • Ok I think I am in love. Truer words were seriously never spoken. I couldn’t agree more with this guest post. I have so many projects on the side of my 9 to 5, and I thought I was the crazy one when people asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I said, “Uh, well I want to work on my projects.” For the past couple of years now, I thought I was so strange to not just be working on one single thing. I love juggling multiple things and figuring out what I’m good at and what I’m not. Being creative is one of my favorite things to do. A HUGE and enthusiastic hell yes to this post. Wonderfully written thanks for sharing!

  • Tanja

    Oh, Monique. What a wonderful comment! You made me smile wide 🙂

    Yep Yep, more people should do awesome things..and many of them.

    Tanja x

  • I wish* for more people to deep-down-understand this!
    My kids don’t even, sometimes…

    *wish, a la Havi Brooks:

  • Hells yes, 9-5 is so 20th century. Thanks for sharing Tanja!

  • Elaine A.

    Hell yeah! Seriously, this is very enlightening. I used to think I was strange too because I couldn’t seem to find a job I could stick with for years at a time. But it turns out I’m not traditional like that after all. I just couldn’t have any of that one-job-forever sh*t. Seriously, this post may have been my life saver. Thanks for this! 🙂

    • Tanja

      Hey, Elaine. I’m like that too – un-tradition and this is how it should be 🙂

  • Pingback: One Career for Life? We’re So Past That | CareerMehCareerMeh()

  • lyle @ The Joy of Simple

    Hey Tanja and thanks for an awesome post!

    I had never heard the term slasher before used in this context but it does make sense! So…I guess I’m a slasher as well.

    I teach guitar for a living…but I also work at a Comedy Club doing sound…and I also blog for a living…and I also design websites for a living..and I am a performer…and I also help folks with their computer issues! Not that I wanna come off sounding narcissistic, but I love doing a bit of everything. I did the 9-5 thing for many years and I’m done and have been for the past 23 years!

    I truly hope that more people get to become slashers over time…and thanks for introducing me to a very cool topic!

    Take care and all the best.


    • Tanja

      Cheers, Lyle. More and more people I know are slashers! I hope it becomes a norm and makes people happier.

  • Brilliant post, Tanja! I could never understand the “pick one thing and do it forever” mindset myself. I’m a dabbler in music and writing, among other things, and right now I aim to do both for a living. What you say about children is very true – why is it that it’s ok to have a plurality of interests when you’re younger, that must get narrowed down as you enter adulthood? Why the suppression of natural curiosity? I admire your attitude, and I’m with you on this one – thanks for the dose of inspiration!


    • Tanja

      Thanks for the kind words, Gwen. I love seeing so many people agree !

  • just me, KimmD!

    It’s 3AM and THIS!!! just gave me LIFE!!! I def needed this confirmation! These are my EXACT sentiments!!