denise gaskin

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 jewelry on the side. Or in my case, an executive who wrote in her free time; typically, in the very early morning. I started this practice of early morning writing a dozen years ago. I thought that writing would always be my hobby and that thing I would do for fun on the side while working full time in my “real” career. Until now. I have given up the day job for my slash career. And it is the perfect time for me to be doing this. I will tell you why, but first what is a slash career?

Photo by Denise Gaskin

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 passionate about writing. I wrote almost every morning. I wrote about everything; no subject was too lofty or too shallow. I wrote about my career and my relationships and about ideas on leadership and dialogue. Mainly, I just opened the page and let my thoughts flow without censoring. And it felt great, and it still feels great. So, it would seem this was way more important than just something to pass the time. When I took a close look at my need to write, I discovered it was a second career, not just a hobby.

The idea of a slash career is very appealing to the millennial generation who panics at the idea of doing just one thing their whole life. I have been fortunate to work in different industries, so I understand the desire for different kinds of work that draw upon different skill sets. In my case, though, I worked these different careers sequentially, not simultaneously. But writing, that was always my slash. I am very grateful for the foundation I built in working full time in non-profit then corporate work because I was able to learn a trade, business and people skills, and how to be a manager and then a leader. I would not have been able to learn these things through my slash career along. I have some great material from my full-time work. 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. Writing is now my full-time career. Does that mean I need to get a new slash? Hmmm. Maybe photography is calling.

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.



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