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This chapter is from the book

How to Create a Career with Multiple Career Acts

To begin to develop your multiple career acts, you first need a primary career act—a place to start. This starting point will vary tremendously depending on many factors: the extent to which you are in a current job you enjoy, whether you have the skills you need to start your ideal career, whether there are hurdles for starting your ideal career (e.g., license, degree, training), and so on. In a nutshell, you need to start somewhere while paying your bills—so you might as well begin purposefully.

To start, let's acknowledge that you need to pay the bills. Any would-be actor who has waited tables in anticipation of a big break will attest that you might not be able to experience your most fulfilling career act immediately. Instead, you need a career act that puts food on the table and keeps the lights on; if it also provides benefits such as insurance and paid vacation, even better. It might be a temporary or seasonal job, a project-based assignment, or an entry-level position, but it is a place to start. This will, over time, generate income and help you start additional career acts by offering a financial base or a platform from which you can develop your skills.

A note of caution is also in order: Although adding a boring part-time job might increase your financial bottom line (and might be a necessary short-term move at some point in your career), this will not lead to greater enjoyment, fulfillment, or balance. A person with an interest in physical fitness might be well suited to begin a career act working at the desk in a health club. Staying in this desk job at the health club without concurrently pursuing a fitness training certificate or a degree in nutrition, however, is not recommended. The best-managed careers acts become progressively more liberating and offer an increased sense of work-life balance. To use a sports metaphor, keep your eye on the ball and continually grow your career acts purposefully.

Your plan for growing your career might vary depending on which of your career acts you are considering. You might be very advanced on one aspect of your career but at the most entry-level stage in another. If you are starting from the beginning on one of your career acts, and have the luxury of spending time pursuing interests, don't shy away from unpaid opportunities because you never know where they can lead. An interest in live theater might motivate someone to take a starter job working in the ticket office at a regional theater. Taking an unpaid internship at a sports magazine or volunteering at an animal shelter are great starter career acts for those with a passion for sports or animals. The venue and being around others who share your passion are great starter career acts—as long as you know how you can grow from there.

Remember that the concept of a multiple-act career is a process for managing your career, not an end state.

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