How to move through career indecision and inertia

How to move through career indecision and inertia
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When it comes to careers, too many people allow themselves to get into a rut. You start to believe that you don’t have to enjoy your job – it just exists to pay the mortgage. You tell yourself that change is risky; that paying the bills this month is more important than long term career success. That’s how you get trapped into doing something you don’t love. Ugh!

So maybe you’re sitting there thinking you want to start a portfolio career but you’re scared of what comes next. Or perhaps you already have a portfolio career and you’re eager to explore something new within that, but don’t know how to gain traction. True, it’s important to protect your near-term financial stability, but you also need to consider your happiness, fulfilment, future employability, and long-term wealth creation.

How to move through career indecision and inertia
©Jane O'Sullivan/The Portfolio Collective 2021

The most important thing to realise is that it’s achievable for happiness and success to work in tandem. Done right, a portfolio career is a lucrative option. More often than not, you’ll come out the other side actually making more money than you did in a permanent 9-to-5 position. Don’t let indecision and inertia hold you back – let’s squash those fears head on. 

FOMO and the uncertainty of choice

Fear is a huge (and necessary) part of the decision making process. Anytime you’re faced with a big life choice, you instantly tick through all the different things that could go wrong. We all do it and we all fall victim, at one time or another, to the fear of missing out (FOMO) or of making the wrong decision.

How to move through career indecision and inertia

What if you left your current job and you missed your colleagues and the comfort of doing work that was familiar? Or what if you start offering a service that you weren’t totally sure about and felt like you made the wrong choice? The good news is that portfolio careers are extremely flexible. If you aren’t quite ready to leave your old job, you don’t have to. You can keep your 9-to-5 and start a side-hustle. Or you can drop down to part-time and take on other other projects alongside that. You can even have a multi-hyphen career with several diverse jobs happening simultaneously.

In other words, you don’t have to miss out. If you’re uncertain about changing your life completely, then take it in smaller steps. Not everyone decides to jump headfirst into a portfolio career. Some people ease in slowly, and that’s fine too.

There’s no set of blueprints you need to follow, which means you can create a career that works for you and your particular situation. 

It helps to engage in bit of shock therapy

In the early 20th century, German-American social psychologist Kurt Lewin developed a three-step model for change designed to challenge the status quo and inspire both individuals and groups to transform their behaviours. He argued that individuals have a tendency to resist change, often becoming “frozen in place” despite favourable opportunities. 

In order to break away from this, one would need to:

  1. Embrace a shock/disturbance in order to unfreeze

  2. Allow change to happen as a result of that shock

  3. Refreeze in a new and different state

Put simply, sometimes a bit of metaphorical shock therapy can nudge you out of your rut. Let’s imagine you’re a block of ice. If you want to reshape yourself into something different like a star or a disk, you need to unfreeze the ice, mould your new shape, then refreeze in that new form.

In order to shake up your career, you first need to recognise why you’re stuck and break free of the doubts and insecurities that have kept you frozen. Ask yourself:


  • What’s really holding me back?


  • What will I lose if I don’t take a chance and embrace a career I’m passionate about?


  • Is my financial security really at stake or am I simply afraid of the unknown?


  • How do I minimise short-term financial risk while launching the career that I really want?


  • What sort of portfolio career will work for my needs and lifestyle?

Don’t let Imposter Syndrome get in the way of what could be a successful and exciting portfolio career. The new working style may be different to what you’re used to, but there’s a reason why millions of people are making the shift into portfolio work. It’s flexible, it’s empowering, and it’s lucrative – sometimes extremely so. In fact, collaborative technologies and enhanced connectivity have influenced a drastic rise in global self-employment rates, with 20-30% of the working population in the EU and US choosing more independent and on-demand work. Portfolio work is not just a trend; it’s forecast to be 50% of professional careers by 2030 – so don’t let your insecurities hold you back from being part of this global revolution.

List out all your fears in black and white and do some in-depth research. Maybe attend our free Portfolio Career Workshop to learn a bit more and meet others in your position. You’ll be surprised by what you learn about the employment market and about yourself.

Break things down into bite-sized pieces

One of the things that makes career change and development feel so overwhelming is the fact that we tend to look at the whole picture. We instantly try to envision the end-goal, not accounting for all the steps and milestones we pass through on the way.

Sure, the idea of completely changing your working style or embarking on a new aspect of an already developed portfolio career can seem a bit bonkers. But remember, that sort of change doesn’t happen overnight. Too often, we fixate on the peak of the mountain and forget about the tracks we overcome along the way.

How to move through career indecision and inertia
©Jane O'Sullivan/The Portfolio Collective 2021

Start thinking about the short term wins. The more milestones you set and pass, the more momentum you create. Do you already have a clear idea in your head of the type of portfolio career you’d like to have or the new venture you want to embark on? That’s good. From there, it helps to:

  1. Research that particular career or service to see what the market looks like

  2. Speak to others who are doing the same thing or something similar

  3. Join as many workshops and networking events as you can (ideally free ones) so you’re not alone on this journey

  4. Create a roadmap with achievable milestones – we recommend breaking it down into daily, weekly, and monthly goals so you can track your progress and celebrate your successes
How to move through career indecision and inertia

Once you have a better idea of what to expect and what your new workload could look like, it’s easier to actually start doing the work and building up a portfolio of clients. Start small with something like optimising your LinkedIn profile. From there, you can work your way up to creating a website, then landing a client, then building a sales pipeline, and so forth.

It’s time to find your community

Any new business venture can be overwhelming when you’re doing it solo. That’s why community is such an important part of having a portfolio career. There’s no reason to work in total isolation – and you don’t have to. With communities like The Portfolio Collective, you can collaborate with other independent talent, find a mentor, and even take part in virtual events that keep you connected to a wider network of workers in the same situation as you.

Having other people to hold you accountable is so important. So share your milestones, celebrate your successes, and bond over mutual challenges. If you’re having fears, other people probably are too, and talking it out can give you a whole new perspective on the things that are holding you back.

Eager to break out of your rut and move past the indecision and inertia getting in your way? Sign up for our community and start connecting with people who have gone through this already. You can also attend our free weekly Introduction to Portfolio Careers Workshop to get a clearer picture of what a portfolio career might look like for you.

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One response to “How to move through career indecision and inertia

  1. this article is EVERYTHING! it so accurately depicts my entire inner monologue as I debate, explore, and let’s face it, freak out over the prospect of a portfolio career versus the stability of my long time corporate career. Reading this was inspiring and makes venturing into this space a little less daunting & a little more supported… thank you Stephanie Dotto for your BANG ON piece!!

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