Why You Shouldn't Invest Everything into One Career

Anna Johansson

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It's tempting to invest everything you have into one career. If you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business, it makes sense that you'd pour all your time and money into that business—especially if you believe strongly in the potential of your idea.

This approach has several advantages; it's essentially a way to ensure you're reaching your fullest potential along with your chosen career path and a way to guard yourself against competitors who might be doing the same. But you shouldn't invest everything into just one career. There are too many downsides you'll need to compensate for.

The Disadvantages of Career Exclusivity

Let's take a look at some of the disadvantages here.

Unexpected Losses

Even if your entrepreneurial prospects are bright, you can't ignore the fact that half of all startups fail within the first five years of operation. What would you do if the last five years of your work and savings suddenly vanished? Similar losses can affect you in a mainstream career.

For example, you could invest all your time in advancing your role within one company, but that company ends up firing you unexpectedly. You could find a new job with similar responsibilities, but you'd be starting from the ground up.

New Priorities

You might also find that your priorities shift as you get older. What once seemed like a fascinating, rewarding career opportunity starts to look like an old, tired approach. Spreading your time among multiple careers and projects gives you a "runway" you can use to more easily segue into a different career.

Burnout

Don't forget about career burnout. Investing all your time and resources into one career could accelerate your path to losing your passion for it. From there, your only options are trudging through the routines of a career you hate or abandoning everything to start a new career from scratch.

What to Do, Instead

You shouldn't be investing everything you have into one career. What should you be investing in, instead?

Invest in Other Assets

Set aside a chunk of the money you're making and start investing it in other assets. Conventional assets like stocks and bonds are always a good idea, but you should also consider getting a futures trading platform. If you become skilled enough at futures trading, it could provide the basis for a new career in its own right.

You could also invest in real estate by opening a stream of rental income and providing a potential future career as a landlord.

Diversify Your Skill Set

Next, you should diversify your skill set. Take every opportunity you have to learn new skills—even if they have nothing to do with your career. A free, introductory class on blacksmithing won't make you a better software developer, but it might give you enough of a foundation to decide whether you like blacksmithing. And who knows? This class might open the door to similar career paths.

Start Side Gigs

If you have a few extra hours to spend each week, consider getting started with a new side gig. The options here are limitless. For example, if you're skilled in a craft, you could sell your creations on a platform like Etsy.

If you can't think of anything to try, you could always fall back on popular sharing apps like Uber or Airbnb. Any side gig will give you a secondary stream of revenue, a chance to build new skills, and a potential path to a future career.

Build Your Network

You could also spend some time building your professional network beyond people who might be useful to you. Get to know people in dramatically different fields and talk to them about how they envision the future of their industry. Every contact you make represents a potential job opportunity in the future or at least someone to turn to for advice if your career doesn't go the way you think.

Take Time for Yourself

Dedicate some time to yourself. Take breaks from work more often and get serious about taking that annual vacation. "You time" will help you decompress and disconnect from your job, and it will reduce the risk of burnout.

Taking time off will also give you the option to explore more opportunities. You'll learn more about what you like and don't like and may forge a new, potential career path for yourself in the process.

There's no one right path here. As long as you're investing your time, money, and resources into more than one idea, you'll be hedging your bets and building a brighter future for yourself. What you invest in and how you strike that balance is up to you.

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, and more. Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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