Nowadays, we hear a lot about the implications of doing too much, biting off more than we can chew, and generally expecting too much of our mere mortal selves.
Far better to err on the side of realistic and manageable, they say, and avoid the burnout and ‘snowball stress’ that is becoming so prevalent in these hyper-ambitious times.
While sensible advice on paper, there is also (sometimes) something to be said for doing the opposite, and embracing the exhausting - yet nonetheless rewarding – career path of the modern day ‘slash generation.’
The ‘slash generation’ is comprised of the growing population of under 35s who are choosing to follow unconventional and multi faceted career paths. They often juggle several different roles, at different times of day, in order to ultimately build a work/life balance that fulfills both financial AND creative needs. This might mean, for example, spending eight hours a day in an accounting office, and evenings as a freelance Personal Trainer.
It’s a symptom of the trend towards following passion further than profession, that the risk of overwhelm and social sacrifice is one that is more widely being deemed worth taking. Stress, late nights and zero down time...they’re all just part and parcel of the ‘long game’ of building a career which utiliises and satisfies ALL skill sets and interests, not just the one talent, as used to be the case.
The rationale behind this lifestyle could be summed up by the old adage ‘short term pain, for long term gain’, and the belief that the health advantages of avoiding overwork might later be negated by the wellbeing implications of career dissatisfaction.
There is method in the madness, therefore, since beyond the challenge of keeping all the plates spinning, and the perils of ‘time optimism,’ lies the promise of a something much greater than the sum of these sacrifices.
We spoke to Sohoni Banjeree, Claudia Bastiaensen, Natasha Maksymowski, Lea Salomone and Chris Walker, all members of the so called ‘slash generation,’ to get a better understanding of what it is that inspires and maintains their varied and unconventional career choices:
Sohoni Banjeree, Cook and Entrepreneur
It’s extremely important for me to love what I do so, despite having an academic background in economics I have started my own supperclubs from my home. I find it helps me focus on day to day work, keeping my mind healthy!
Claudia Bastiaensen, Wine Entrepreneur
Combining the work on my own wine education business with various freelance assignments is both rewarding and complex. It can be stressful to manage many email inboxes and different deadlines. The upside is that it makes my workweek very dynamic: every day is different and I get to work on plenty of exciting projects and to meet many interesting people.
Natasha Maksymowski, Life Coach
Weekdays, I’m a UK Civil Servant responsible for a piece of government policy. In any other moment of free time around my day job, I’m a life coach who helps female coaches who have a 9-5 make their side business profitable through work life balance strategies. I’ve always managed to maintain a good work life balance, and fortunately my day job has always provided me with the training and opportunity to mentor and coach others in the workplace. Setting up my life coaching business seemed like a good option, and I was able to use the skills and experience I had picked up in my day job to teach and coach others on how they can too have a side business whilst still maintaining a good work life balance. It’s hard sometimes to fit my business around my day job, especially after a long day, and it takes a lot of sacrifice, but I find it very rewarding and I love being able to help others on an individual level. Plus, I can’t complain about having an extra stream of income!
Lea Salomone, Social Media Consultant
Moving from France to the UK to study photography at 18, I had no idea then what a freelancer was and how it worked. I didn’t know then I could be who I wanted to be, with a lot of hard work and dedication.
So I first became a freelance photographer, then a full-time employed photographer, and as I started working with influencers and capturing their outfits with my camera, I slowly turned my interest towards social media marketing.
It wasn’t really a thing back then, so I kept my focus on photography, all the while getting to know more about how social media can help businesses.
Fast forward a few years later, a few dozen clients and managed Instagram accounts, and I am now running my Social Media Consultancy and Management company - but with a twist! Indeed, I also offer to my clients the option to create the content that I need to then use on their social media platforms. It’s a win-win!
But here’s the plan for my day today (as an example): I’m writing this from the Isle of Wight where I am staying for the weekend, working on a London client’s account who’s currently in New York, and I will be heading to Los Angeles in a few days for meetings.
I don’t miss my 9 to 5, as I love my home office and there’s no better conversation starter than “Hi, I’m Lea, I’m a photographer/social media consultant and also do personal assisting”!
Chris Walker, co Founder of Harfi
"These days I think it is super important to have multiple streams of income. With the internet there is so much opportunity to educate yourself on a number of different topics by taking online courses in your free time at home. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, though, so make sure you focus on topics you are really passionate about. If you are focused and driven there is more opportunity now than ever before."