Building a portfolio career: where to begin

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Portfolio career sounds great, but where do I start?


In my previous post I introduced what a portfolio career is and why I think it’s the future and the answer to building a fulfilling life. In the next few posts, I will talk about the careers in my portfolio and how I went about introducing them one by one. In the first 6 months of my life start-up experiment I worked through the 3 blocks – I became a yoga teacher, kicked off my career as an artist and in the process of building my career as a writer. Right this very moment, writing this very post.


Building a portfolio career might be overwhelming. Where should I begin? Should I launch all careers at once or introduce each one by one? Which one should be first? Some questions will be answered by your circumstances and the status of each one of your careers. For example, if you have been practicing yoga for many years (like me) but you don’t know if you would like to teach it, then you might give teaching a go and see if you like it. If it is a completely new career to you, like writing to me, then you will need to do some research first and lay the foundation – for example build a solid portfolio of writing before you approach anyone with it. Today I will talk about becoming a yoga teacher and a few things I learnt on the way.


First career in my portfolio or how I became a yoga teacher


I have discovered yoga at the age of 16. It was back in Russia, long before funky yoga studios, sustainable yoga mats and trendy yoga clothes. We had many books in our flat and one was a small blue book about yoga. It had light blue stars on the cover and a bunch of black and white photographs illustrating what at a time seemed like impossible positions. I was intrigued and tried a few asanas with an attempt to shed a few kilos off my teenage waste.


It since has been an 18-year long journey of picking it up, dropping, practicing regularly, not practicing at all and starting over. Yoga has always been a tool for me to keep myself grounded, balanced and better deal with stress. Over time it became a lot more of a spiritual journey as I was learning more about meditation, breathing exercises, chakras and other aspects of yoga.


Having spent years in high-pressure consulting job, yoga often was the only thing that kept me afloat. And as I was contemplating of the best way out of this stressful work environment I started thinking about purpose. Serving people seems to be a purpose many people refer to the most. Working as a consultant I served, but I served large corporations, and it didn’t feel very rewarding. What was rewarding even about that job was helping individuals by making their organisation more successful. That is when I realised, I can apply all the same skills of helping others and coaching them but in a different context. This is how I signed up for a course to become a yoga instructor.


It is a rather serious undertaking with 200 hours to complete and associated cost, that can vary between 2-5k pounds depending on where you do it. Rishikesh in India is the go-to location. It is the motherland of everything yoga related. Yet, every time I opened Skyscanner to search for flights or researched schools online, something inside me was protesting. Intuition, I though. And I don’t go against my intuition, it’s proven to be one of the best safety tools one could get.


I opted for Thailand. I heard many wonderful things about the country and a tropical island of Koh Phangan. A few of my friends kept raving about how great it is, so I had to go and check it out. I found a wonderful yoga school Sunny Yoga run by very inspiring woman Sunny. It was the right choice.


When launching your portfolio career, be gentle


The course was wonderful. I met many like-minded people who became friends, had a lot of fun but also worked a lot. The course was quite intense. We studied 6 days a week for 4 weeks with only one day off a week. The day started in silence with meditation at 6.45am followed by a 2-hour physical asana practice.


After breakfast, I was working on my investment proposal at a local cafe, while the rest of my group were enjoying the beach. Yes, building a portfolio career can be quite intense at times. After lunch we had a lecture on anatomy, yoga philosophy or Ayurveda, followed by 2 more hours of the teaching practice. After dinner, I rushed back home for client calls while my fellow yogis were enjoying long dinner over conversations and laughs.


I wouldn’t lie it was intense. My sister once said that I started working more after I quit my corporate job. I think it was a psychological reaction trying to justify to myself that my decision to change my life is grown-up and legitimate and I am not just fooling around. Working hard was my way of finding comfort in the new way of living. But it wasn’t a healthy way. And I realised that. It was silly to live by the beach and never take a dip in the water. So, when I finished my yoga course and submitted my funding proposal, I decided to take a break. I did not take on any more funding projects and instead enjoyed the island and focused on my newly launched career as a yoga teacher.


Put your newly acquired skills to practice quick


When I finished my course, I stayed on Koh Phangan for another month to enjoy the sun and see if I can apply my newly acquired skills to practice. I got incredibly lucky. When I asked Sunny if I can teach at her studio, she said yes! It was so exciting, being a real yoga teacher. I spent hours planning and rehearsing my lessons and tried new things in every class. When I got a bit more comfortable with teaching, I focused more on the marketing side of things and promoted my classes on social media, immediately seeing the uptake of students. It felt incredibly rewarding. What was even more rewarding is that people were coming back to my classes. In less than a month I had a few people who became my loyal customers. Not only did I incredibly enjoy planning and teaching lessons, I learnt that people liked them! It prov