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We can get caught up in moving forward with our Portfolio Executive workstyle and lose sight of what we’re really trying to achieve.  We can lose sight of why we are motivated to do this in the first place.

That’s what I mean by back to basics.

Whether you’re looking to step out into Portfolio Executive workstyle for the first time, or whether you’ve been running for a while, I believe it’s very important to review what really matters to you.

Perhaps in the last six months you’ve had a setback, become over busy or perhaps you’ve had a difficult client.  Come back to basics.

So, what are the basics?

Fundamentally, the motivation for becoming a Portfolio Executive is to move from full-time, salaried employment, where you are either enslaved by the corporation, your work has become toil or you don’t have the capacity to receive and offer the love to those people who are most important to you.  You may also be motivated to ensure that you can continue to exercise your professional skills without fear of a retirement and income cliff-edge.

Let’s remember what you have been moving away from:

Let’s think about full-time

For many senior executives I talk to, their experience of full-time is sixty hours a week of work and that too often their employers are on their minds every waking hour.

Too often, when you’re awake, you are subconsciously, or even consciously, thinking about work.

They are occupying space in your head without paying rent.

Let’s think about toil

There’s the situation where so much of what you are doing is not actually leveraging the knowledge skills and experience you’ve got.  Because they own you, you end up doing lots and lots of things that are not relevant to your pay grade.

You spend too much of your time playing politics and attending meetings in a form of presentism and perform and work.

Then there’s the situation that your work activities have become toil. You have very few opportunities to do anything new or different. It’s the same old same old and you’re just tired and bored of it.

Permanent employment

Finally, is the ever-present threat, that at a management reorganization, you could be thrown out. In a stroke your identity, self-worth and income are just turned off.

Well-being and work

There are also compromises that you may have had to make.  The compromises with your health, home life, family, children, with your friends.  The compromises with your true passions.


Finally, you’ve stepped away from a cliff-edge retirement event.  The possibility that at some point retirement will become your only option and from there a rapid decay of activity, health, hope and enjoyment.  Too often you have seen peers who have stopped work and within two or three years you are going to their funerals.

So that’s what you’re leaving behind.

Making the most of your future

But how much are you recreating some of your past in your portfolio workstyle?

Are you being disciplined about limiting the number of fee-earning days a month you do?

Are you prepared to let clients go and renew your portfolio so you’re working with the people you most enjoy working with and you’re doing the work you most enjoy?

Have you got clients where you’ve been trapped into too much operational activity?

What should have moved from 4 days a month to 2 or 3 days a month has escalated to 6 or 7 days a month, and is now becoming increasingly consuming and that time that you spend with them is actually delivering less and less value.  Now you’re being treated more as a part-time interim with all the risks that involves.

And have you maintained your twelve days a month fee-earning, but failed to invest in other aspects of your life?  Are you spending the non-fee-earning days “Investing” in self-development, ie lots of time on social media. Or “building relationships”, i.e. lots of fruitless 60 min Zoom calls with people who come across your radar.

Have you got a plan that you stick to which ensures that the eight or more days a month that you’ve released are used for things that really matter to you. Yes, some elements of investing in business development and in developing yourself to become valuable to your clients, but also ensuring that you can spend the time with the people you care most about and you can follow some of the passions that you put on hold for too long.

Step back.  Reassess. Are you really building the Portfolio Executive workstyle that is truly releasing you into the full promise of everything that you left behind when you stepped out of corporate life? Or have you gone back to type and stepped back into your addiction to work and moved to a situation where five or six days a week, you’re always on. Are you just building your business and continuing to deny those things that are most important to you?  And failing to nurture the relationships with the people who matter to you most?

But I am still an employee!

If you’re still employed and you’re still stuck, use this as a checkpoint to review whether you are ready now to plan your transition.  Use it as a warning that this transition involves significant personal change: in attitude, mindset, and behaviours if you are going to achieve the freedom and joy of the rewarding sustainable long-term workstyle that the Portfolio Executive workstyle can give you.


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.