I love the enthusiasm of new Pluralists. Those who join the Pluralists Club – and those who talk to me about it prior to committing – are full of ideas and excitement. Their brains are firing away in all directions, they’re exploring a great wide range of interesting new options, they’re completely ready to jump into a new life.
At which point I sometimes have to suggest that they slow down and take a deep breath. If you’ve quit the 9-5 or taken on a new project, it can be exhilarating and the rush you feel can sweep you away but practicalities and reality soon bites. Things don’t happen the way you expect, or as quickly as you imagined. The actuality of new commitments turns out to be more complicated than you anticipated and the enthusiasm turns to a horrifying level of chaos.
One of the reasons I set up the Pluralists Club was to help people strategise their Pluralist career, rather than just diving in. Sometimes circumstances can force a Pluralist career on us but more usually it is a conscious and perhaps a long-hoped-for plan. Either way, it needs a bit more thought than many imagine and, in an ideal world, I would counsel a gradual move into a portfolio career. If possible, a good start is gradually to reduce previous commitments (a three day week or extrication from a current role), whilst getting a feel for new activities. This is not just about scoping out those new activities either, but also about assessing how you feel when working in this way; for many it can be a big culture shock.
Slowly building up a social media presence, networking, blogging and volunteering are all low-key ways of dipping your toe in the water and laying the foundations for a more portfolio type of lifestyle whilst getting a feel for the juggling which a pluralist life always requires. Taking each project on in turn, taking time to bed it in and find your style, will pay dividends in the long run. There will inevitably be the odd thing that doesn’t work for one reason or another and that’s fine – it’s part of the journey you’re on – but if you rush at everything simultaneously it becomes more difficult to work out what has gone wrong and why.
Indeed, it’s not just at the start of a pluralist career that one needs to take baby steps. As you take on more projects – and become more embedded in them – that slow and steady pace is vital to ensure that your portfolio is balanced, manageable and effective. You need to establish what your maximum workload can be, probably via trial and error, so that new projects can only be contemplated if something else has quietened down or gone entirely. It’s a bit like distance race; you don’t sprint at the start, you set a steady pace and maintain it.
If you want to talk through the realities and challenges of a pluralist career, do feel free to get in touch with me. I can’t promise to solve all of the challenges ahead, but I suspect I can anticipate many of them and, more to the point, I know that the members of The Pluralists Club have collectively acquired all the expertise a new pluralist could have hope to consult …. we all started out in the same place after all.