The only constant is change. As of September 1st, my list of gigs will shift by one. The total will stay the same; but, thanks to what’s happening in a few of my other gigs, my title at the museum (History of Computing in Learning and Education Virtual Museum) will shift from Project Manager to Management Consultant. That old adage about doors and windows opening and closing is simple but misses the reality. Doors and windows can be more than just open or closed. They can also be left ajar.
Rarely does it make sense to go cold turkey or burn your bridges or burn your cold turkey. I followed that advice when I left my aerospace engineering career. The logic was logical. If you’ve experiencing a major life shift, leave the old life behind. It is too easy to identify with that past job, title, role, or persona. You’re you, not your job. I retired (evidently temporarily) at 38 (hence my friends encouraging me to write the book on personal finance that is the basis for this blog, Dream. Invest. Live.) I dutifully switched to a completely different passion, teaching karate. Yeah. That’s a switch.
Looking back, it is obvious that maintaining at least some consulting work would’ve been a great backup idea. I’ve been a fan of commercial space since college, oh so many decades ago, and actually got to work in it. Following conventional wisdom meant missing out on the resurgence that is Blue Origins, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and others. But, the logic was sound – as long as the assumptions remained valid. Be careful with those.
The assumption was that a large diversified portfolio, a frugal lifestyle, and an open-minded approach would be enough to sustain a retirement. Alas, my Triple Whammy, my personal perfect storm of bad luck, undermined the monetary position turning a large diversified portfolio into something based more on hope and good luck than a credible investing strategy. That assumption took about a decade to fail, too long to re-establish an engineering career; hence, days with nine different money-making attempts that have yet to mature into a confidently sustainable income. Come on lottery.
One of my key gigs for the last six years has been the museum. One thing I enjoy about the Gig Economy is the opportunity to learn, and also to learn that many of my skills apply to more than one job. Management, planning, communications, and strategizing are useful in most ventures. With the museum I also discovered an appreciation for the thousands of librarian, archivists, conservators (sorry if I got that exact title wrong), all of the people who unearth, preserve, and present history. Many are professionals. Many are volunteers.
This is an amazing time in our civilization. A thousand years ago, very little was recorded. History was written by the winners. A hundred years ago, there were more voices, but the stories were just exiting the period of paintings and text. Within the last ten years, almost every voice can be recorded, written, photographed, and preserved in forms that have the potential to be immortal. In another hundred or thousand years, historians may look back at the pre-PC era as the Dark Ages, regardless of what happened in Medieval Europe.
That gig has been appreciated (and they’d appreciate your support) but it wasn’t enough so it wasn’t alone. I’ve been learning similar depths in writing, photography, consulting, entrepreneurship, social innovations, while taking a roller coaster ride through America’s wealth classes.
Thanks to writing about real estate, and the encouragement of friends, my career as a real estate broker is getting busy enough to warrant finding more time for it. Living on Whidbey Island as the place is being “discovered” (yet again) helps. Fortunately, I enjoy people, helping them, and helping my community. As stint at writing a historical documentary about the south half of the island also means a fun background for understanding why houses are where they are, and an appreciation for locals who’ve preserved those stories.
It is too easy for a “career” the Gig Economy to be messy collection of disconnected gigs. Sometimes saying yes to everything still isn’t enough to make enough. My museum work helped, but my other gigs and skills reinforce each other more strongly. A broker benefits from knowing how to manage projects, write about a property, coordinate photos, and work with a diverse group of people. So, more time for the mutually supportive gigs.
The museum continues. It is also changing in ways that benefit from on-site rather than remote help. I’ll continue to consult because I like what they’re doing, and I like to help people complete their projects.
To me, real estate, museum management, encouraging entrepreneurs, and my talks and classes are all about helping people, particularly helping them pursue their ideas, dreams, and sometimes dream homes. Maybe change is the only constant, but at some level some things never change.