Invest in a Portfolio Life

Jann FreedLiving, Sage-ing Leave a Comment

Recently, I participated in a “Transition to Retirement Summit” where I got to listen to several people over the course of three days via webinar interviews.  This Summit was organized and facilitated by Marianne Oehser who I plan to interview for my monthly podcast series titled Becoming a Sage.  

My podcasts are sent out as blog posts on the second Friday of each month.  The next one will be sent out on Friday, April 14th where I interviewed Harry “Rick” Moody, the former Director of Academic Affairs for AARP.  Rick is a fascinating person who was one of my sages for my book Leading with Wisdom:  Sage Advice from 100 Experts.   I hope you can make time to listen to my upcoming podcast!

One of the people Marianne interviewed for the Summit was David Corbett, author of Portfolio Life:  The New Path to Work, Purpose, and Passion After 50.  Interestingly, I bought and read the book soon after it was published in 2007 and loved it then.  After listening to this interview, I pulled the book from my library and read it again and appreciating it even more now.

Corbett emphasizes that careers end, but life goes on.  Corbett put it this way:

“Careers come to an end, but you still have a life!  Our educational system prepares us for careers, but careers have a shelf life.  It is important to spend time in life planning and the sooner people start this—the better.”

He uses the metaphor of portfolio since it is “a balanced collection of holdings related to one person, such as financial assets, job responsibilities, artistic works, and accomplishments.  It’s something portable, something you carry with you.  The portfolio represents the whole.  It represents what you have or have done as an expression of who you are.  As work and life change, we take some elements out and put others in, which is just what we do when we reallocate or rebalance our investment portfolios.”

Corbett went on to explain how we find jobs, but we create portfolios and we need to develop a portfolio mentality because it is a frame of mind.  Similar to a financial portfolio, a life portfolio is about redistributing our resources (time, money, energy), balancing risk and return, and diversifying.  He said post career might be the first time since high school that we often struggle with what to do when we get up in the morning!

He continues to use this metaphor by saying that “a portfolio speaks to what people are doing with their lives, how they are living, and what they value–not their age or stage of life. A portfolio expands into a mindset that is ageless, in the broader sense of figuring out what really matters in life.”

Since I found the interview with Corbett and his book so enlightening, I am going to blog about how to create a portfolio life in the coming weeks.  An important point to remember is that creating a life portfolio is about being intentional.  It is about investing the time to make the choices that will make the rest of life the best of life.  I will leave you with one of his conclusions:

Don’t do this work all alone.  Involve those who matter most–who care about you.  If you are in a relationship, people need to be on the same page.  Have the crucial conversations about these questions:

  • What are you on this earth to do?
  • What will get you out of bed in the morning?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • How do you want to spend your time?
  • What is the legacy you are leaving behind?

We all make a difference, but what difference are you making?  What difference do you want to make?  

One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Leider, another one of the Sages interviewed for my book:


“The Good Life is living in the place you love, with the people you love, doing the right work on purpose.”