Be a Free Range Human
It's all Marianne Cantwell's fault that I became a career coach.
I've read this book three times now. And in it Marianne tells us that you no longer have to be stuck in a 'career cage'. With a good wifi connection, a laptop and a phone you should be able to run your business from literally anywhere! (Obviously this was before Corona virus!)
Leaves, of course, the question of what the hell it is that you are actually going to do to pay the bills.
Well, Marianne spends half her book discussing just that! And giving you helpful little quizzes and exercises to get you started.
Want to consider an alternative to the 9-5? This might well be your book!
I could do anything (if only I knew what it was)
I love Barbara Sher. I love her down-to-earthness (is that a word?), her no nonsense, her practicality. I love that she is - what she calls - a 'scanner' (someone who wants to do everything).
I love the fact that she is a firm believer in action and that personal improvement and confidence comes from DOING stuff. And finally, I love her rock solid belief that you should go and do what you want to do.
Which is the starting point of this book.
Barbara Sher (sadly she died in 2020) said in this book that - deep down - you already know what you want.But that there can be a number of reasons why you're not. Doing it, I mean. From chasing the wrong dream, to being successful in the wrong career, from wanting too many things (maybe you're a scanner too?) to having lost a dream and now needing to regroup. As always full with exercises on how to understand where problems originate and how to move on.
A great read. A useful, down to earth, practical book. Just how I like it!
The big leap
Gay Hendricks tells us that you can live in one of four 'zones':
Your Zone of Incompetence - where you are doing things that you are not particularly good at
Your Zone of Competence - where you are doing things that you are 'OK' at
Your Zone of Excellence - where you do things that you've grown to be really good at, but that you don't particularly love
Your Zone of Genius - where you do things you absolutely love
The aim is to live in your Zone of Genius as much as possible.
The problem is that you have - what the writer calls - an 'Upper Limit Problem'. And that problem is that - every time you are happy - something happens (or you MAKE it happen) that spoils it. Which can be for a number of reasons, identified in the book.
This book came highly recommended. And for me, the distinction in the various Zones and the recognition that you are stopping yourself living in your Zone of Genius is valuable.
The writer recommends the use of mantras. Which I am not a particular fan of. However, knowing what your Zone of Genius is and having an intention to not let anything stop you, may well be the ticket!
The Joy of Work
I bet the author of this book is planning the sequel to this book - the post Covid version - right now!
Because this book is all about how to make work less awful, or even enjoyable again.
And - crucially - was written when conversations were still being held at water coolers and when waiting for your coffee.
When ideas were able to sprout just by talking to the random person sitting next to you in your open plan office. At times when ideas were actually sprouting (not during the awful team meeting at 8.30 am via Zoom).
Having said all that - I think there are really valuable lessons to be learned from this book.
When you are at your most productive.
How to stage 'moments' when you allow ideas to sprout and mature. How to set boundaries so that you get some actual work done. How to make people feel good, so that the 'positive affect' helps them to be more engaged and more productive. How you can get from an 'awful' office environment by re-charging, creating 'sync' and - ultimately - a 'buzz.
Powerful stuff. Don't wait for the sequel. Learn from this.
The Squiggly Career
Helen Tupper/Sarah Ellis
Careers are no longer linear. Instead, according to Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, they are 'squiggly'. Going all over the place. Not staying in one place and steadily climbing up the ladder. If there still is a ladder, of course!
And to prepare for this squiggly career path, more than ever you need to look inside yourself. To know what you're good at (your strengths), to know what is important to you (your values), to grow your confidence and to use your network to find and go after the job you want to do next.
I've read lots (lots!) of books about career change. And each book teaches you something new.
My takeaways from this book are this:
- Networking - a 'dirty' word for a lot of us. But if you look at networking as 'who do you need to make your career a success, now and in the future'. Or as 'stakeholder engagement', it doesn't sound half so scary!
Curiosity - Is, as the book says, the key to making a career change. How will you end up in a career completely different from your own, if you don't get curious about other jobs/careers/topics? Get curious!
A great read, with lots of useful tips and exercises to get you started on your career change.
It's only too late if you don't start now
A charity shop special from 1998!
This book explains the reasons why people have a midlife crisis, and the mindset change required to realise that - actually - you can now start living your second life!
Without all the tiring competitiveness, striving and compliance that nature (and culture) get you caught up in your 'first' life!
A fully entertaining read with some real mindset-untangling chapters about time, money and beauty.
And yes, at times the book feels a little bit dated, but there are some really valuable lessons and exercises in here.
I don't know if this book is still in print (if not, you might just have to bump into it in a charity shop one day), but I definitely have my eye out for any other Barbara Sher books!
Find your Thing
Wouldn't it be lovely? If we all had one Thing. One Thing that we did really well. That - in fact - we do so well that we don't even know we're doing it! Until someone points it out.
In this book Lucy Whittington tells us that we do. That we have one Thing. Which we should find. Which we should give a Fame Name to (something you will be remembered for). Which you will then go and do. And get famous for.
Lucy's Thing is helping other people to find their Thing. And help them to do their marketing for the Thing they do.
Her book is uplifting and very easy to read, making finding your Thing, and marketing it, sound easy.
Except, when I speak to women about their career, I find that careers are not as clear-cut as that. People are multi-faceted. They want to do multiple Things. Simultaneously or in sequence.
Which would mean that you can have more than one Thing. And you can.
Which would mean we would have to rename the book 'Find your Thing (or - for now at least, for the purpose of having one clear marketing message - please pick only one)". Which makes it sound silly.
The Element - How finding your passion changes everything
I've read many self-help books on changing your career. When then a book comes around that doesn't give you a '6 step plan' to changing your career, or a 'checklist' full of things you should do or '30 exercises to help you get started', I start getting withdrawal symptoms!
How to find fulfilling work
Roman Krznaric teaches at The school of life - in his own words about the 'art of living'. In this book he provides in a nutshell the key steps to take to change careers.
There are three key components to fulfilling work: meaning, flow and freedom.
Meaning has five aspects: money, status, making a difference, following our passions and using our talents. Of course the warning here is that focusing on the first two aspects only, to the exclusion of the others, is unlikely to bring meaning into your career, but that instead you should focus on the intrinsic aspects.
Flow: You know when you are in 'flow' when time seems to fly by. You are doing something that requires you to concentrate fully and all of a sudden your afternoon is gone! That is flow. Checking with yourself when you are in flow might give you valuable clues to when you feel at your happiest, at your most fulfilled.
Freedom: the author makes a compelling case for considering more freedom. Freedom to do you work with more automony. Freedom to work for yourself. Freedom to do work if and when (and where) you choose to do it. With technology you should be able to work in a way that suits your life, even if that means making financial sacrificies.
And then there is the 'how'. How should you make this fulfilling career happen? Well, not by sitting still! Go out, find someone to talk to, someone who has a career that interests you. Start a side project next to your job, to see if you like it and if you could make it into your career. Have time off and try new things! And when it comes to it - take the jump! Make it happen.
Taking charge of your career
Camilla Arnold/Jane Barratt
If you are looking to change your career, you could do worse than reading a book that sets out how to go about it, written by two career coaches.
And that's exactly what this is.
The book is made up of four parts:
The barriers to changing your career
Looking into yourself
How to go about making your ideas real, and
How to get that dream job (including tips on networking and using social media)
The nuts and bolts of career change, and as such well worth the read. With exercises to get you started.
What - of course - can never be captured is the fun you can have during your career change. Or how you would go about bringing your partner and family along. Or who would hold you accountable. Or ...
But that's what a career coach is for.
A very useful book for starting career changers. With lots of exercises to get you started.
Pivot: the only move that matters is your next one
Jenny Blake is a previous Google career development program manager, now an independent career strategist and writer.
Pivot is about making your next career move. It provides you with a lot - and I mean a lot! - of tools and exercises to help you determine what your next career move should be and key tips on how to go about making this happen.
My key takeaway? The fact that careers have changed so much! Remember those days? Where in interviews you would be asked 'where you saw yourself in 5 years time'? Who knows what careers and jobs will be available in 5 years time now? Jenny Blake advises to make a 1 year plan instead.
F**k it. Do what you love
John C. Parkin
Yep, time for another book about doing what you love. For a living. Or on the side.
So, what's different about this book? Well, refreshingly, it doesn't aim to make you search for your 'passion' or 'purpose'.
No, it actually dedicates an entire paragraph to have a rant at that.
Why? Because when you're already confused about what you should be doing with your life, the last thing you need is to be told to go in search of that 'passion', or your 'why'. You need to get unstuck first!
And the answer is: by doing something you love.
Compulsion, is what John C. Parkin calls it. What you feel compelled to do. Which requires you first of all to really tune into yourself. Channelling into the free existence you had as a child in a long hot summer holiday with a whole day, or even whole weeks in front of you. By - on occasion - feeling bored (remember bored?).
And once you've got that idea of what you love to do it starts telling you how to monetize that. Which is where the book stays broad.
Because no one's journey is the same. And what feels right to you now might not feel right in a couple of years. And that, my friend, is absolutely OK!
And what do you do? 10 steps to creating a portfolio career
Barrie Hopson/Katie Ledger
I am a big fan of portfolio careers. So I was looking forward to this book. I bought it. An actual book, with paper pages and everything! Which meant I had to I read it and finish it.
So, what is my verdict? A great book for the person who is uninitiated. Who has only just learned about portfolio careers. Who wants to get to grips with what they could and should do. With some great exercises to get you going.
For me? It left me wanting more. More stories. More depth. An updated version (the book is from 2009. My fault for not checking).
As I said I'm a great believer in portfolio careers. In doing everything you love. In your ideal blend of work and life. I believe portfolio careers are the future. And that's certainly what this book helps you to believe too. But it left me wanting more.
Portfolio careers - Steve Preston
I love the idea of a portfolio career. A career where you can have multiple (paid or unpaid) strands to what you're doing.
Because I believe people are multi-faceted, have different interests and causes they feel strongly about. They have multiple talents.
And, quite frankly, because the remit of a corporate job is not wide enough to contain all those facets, ideas, talents, experiences.
Steve Preston's book starts from that premise. That - at any stage in your career - you may want to consider building a portfolio career, rather than fit yourself into a corporate one.
It dispels the myths around the 'security' of a corporate job. It gives a great number of case studies of people who've done it. Who've created a portfolio career embracing all the aspects of them.
It gives a number of useful lessons too. On how you can think of your career as an umbrella. That shouldn't just contain your paid work, but should look holistically at your entire life.
It finishes with generic lessons to take into account for those of you wanting to make the move.
A great introduction to portfolio careers, from some people who've only gone and done it!
Born for this
When I first started thinking about changing my career this was the first book I read. Time to revisit.
Chris Guillebeau's book gave me the first insight into a different sort of life. A life where you could do things that filled your soul AND get paid for it. A life where - if things weren't working out - you could just change. Do something different.
In other words, it gave me a much lighter view of life.
Up until then a career was this precious thing. That you carefully built up, piece by piece. A house of cards.
This book showed me that there are multiple ways to build a career. It follows the Joy-Money-Flow model where all three have to be present for you to have a fulfilling career. It then goes on to provide a whole raft of ways in which you can make that ideal combination of the three happen.
Reading it again - after having read so many other books on the same theme - I'm struck again by the joy that leaps off the pages. The freedom it offers. The different practical ways it shows.
No wonder this book helped me on my my way.
Designing your work life
Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
I've read my fair share of career change books. So why pick up another one (apart from the utmost dedication to my clients)?
I'd heard about this book. About the approach it takes to (career) change. A design-thinking approach. Which is very action-focused. A trial-and-error approach. if you want. Where you design an action (a mini-project, an experiment) to find out if you like a job, or not. Then trial it. And learn from it afterwards.
I like this book. For the action focus. But mainly because of the down-to-earth-ness. The book recognises that we all live in the real world. With bills to pay and responsibilities. That we get our fulfilment from a range of sources - which the authors helpfully narrow down to three: Money, Impact and Expression, which will change at different stages of our life. And that, whilst it is tempting to just throw in the towel at your current job, in most cases there is still a lot you can do to make your current job a whole lot more enjoyable.
The Midnight Library
I never review fiction books here. But for this one I'm making an exception.
Because it talks about trying on different lives. Haven't we all done this? Thought about what your life would be like if you had made different choices?
Went left instead of right?
Chose to go to art school instead of studying law? Travelled the world and 'try out' different jobs first, instead of landing a 'sensible' job and rolling into a career without making active choices? Be free instead of of tied down and 'safe'? Or is that just me?
The book allows us to share exactly that journey with the main character. Who died-but-not-died and now can choose which life, which careers she wants to try instead.
It feels great to make that journey with her. To think back to where you made those choices. Where you went left, or right. Sometimes based on active decisions, sometimes because of circumstances.
Whilst the book shows you a way to let yourself be led by you. By what YOU believe is important. You may have regrets, about paths not taken, even if you made those decisions as best you could. But now you have a chance to make sure you don't have regrets going forward. By making decisions on what YOU want and need.
If you were to make a decision right now, what would it be?