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Career change books - which next?

After finishing Designing Your Life, which book to read next? Here's the shortlist we chose from...

A Job to Love - School of Life

They say: Alongside a satisfying relationship, a career we love is one of the foremost requirements for a fulfilled life. Unfortunately, it is devilishly hard to understand oneself well enough to know quite where one’s energies should be directed. It is to help us out of some of these impasses that we wrote A Job to Love, a guide to how we can better understand ourselves and locate a job that is right for us. With compassion and a deeply practical spirit, the book guides us to discover our true talents and to make sense of our confused desires and aspirations before it is too late.

Laurie Says: This book follows The School of Life’s approach of taking a philosophical approach to life’s conundrums: in this case choosing a career. For most of history, the authors say, humans had very little choice about what job to do, and the idea that a job should fulfil us and give us meaning is a very modern concept. It’s something that society has very few tools for helping us with, and in which we were given almost no training, so no wonder we find things difficult.

The book examines how aspects such as cultural assumptions and our upbringing are likely to have influenced our views and choices around work. It is filled with exercises aimed to get us to examine and reflect on ourselves and our experiences. How have we got to where we are now? What drives us and gives us pleasure (and if we consider these, we might look at jobs that we might otherwise have written off)? What are the some of the obstacles to finding a job that we enjoy (e.g. our family work templates, being trapped in a narrow view of the world), our inner voices and traps such as duty, imposter syndrome and perfectionism)?

Taking these into account, how can we understand ourselves and navigate our way to a fulfilling career?

Pivot - Jenny Blake

Jenny Says: In today’s economy the average job tenure is only four years, and falling. Roles change constantly. Even smart, motivated people hit professional plateaus. “What’s next” is a question that we all have to answer more frequently. But how do you advance without getting stuck?

In Pivot, Jenny Blake, co-creator of Google’s Career Guru Programme, shows you how to build upon your assets – your strengths, interests and networks – to launch a new career with meaning and adventure. You will learn how to redirect your energy, scan for opportunities, identify new skills without falling prey to “analysis paralysis” or “compare and despair” and run small experiments to test what’s next”

Laurie says: The idea behind this book is that “if change is the only constant, let’s get better at it”. A job for life is gone, and we need to be constantly re-inventing ourselves.

A change, or pivot, according to Jenny Blake, encompasses four elements:

  • Plant: What’s already working? What does success look like one year from now?

  • Scan: What’s out there (related people, skills, and projects)? And, most importantly...

  • Pilot: What can you try? What small experiments can you run starting from right where you are?

  • The fourth stage, Launch, is either going all-in in a new direction, or it could be a “little L” launch, to distill your answers from the previous stages down to one or two clear, resonant, small next steps.

The book examines each of these steps and provides guidance to navigating the journey, whether it is a change in job or a business venture or side hustle that we are pivoting to.

The idea in you, Alex Pellew and Martin Amor

They say: Do you have an idea in you? A hobby, a project, a product . . . something that could change your life? The Idea in You is a bulletproof system for finding the right idea and shaping it in to a success—on your own terms. With advice from the people behind the likes of Pizza Pilgrims, Parkrun, and Decoded, The Idea in You will show you what to expect, how to think, and what to do when launching your own venture. Making your idea happen is possible—and it will be one of the most inspiring and energizing experiences of your life. What are you waiting for?

Laurie says: So often we have an idea that excites us. We get enthused and fired up: this idea is going to change our life! And then reality kicks in: How do you actually build an app? Would anyone buy it? What would people think? And so we shelve the idea and go back to business as usual. On the other hand, we might know that we want to do something, but can’t put our finger on exactly what. Although there are lots of books about how to do all the practical steps involved in setting up a business, there are fewer which examine the ideation element – which is where The Idea in You comes in

The idea in you is focussed on the initial stages of building a side project or business. – how do we go from that seed of an idea to actually testing and implementing things in the real world? It provides guidance on each of the steps in the process, from generating ideas, through to defining and fleshing out our idea, through to trying things out in the real world.

Be a Free Range Human, Marianne Cantwell

Marianne says: “Be A Free Range Human” is not a regular business or careers book. This isn’t just about quitting your job or being your own boss… it’s about discovering a world where creating something that suits you in every way is not only encouraged but essential to make this work.

It’s about life on your terms, working when, where and how you want – so you don’t have to fit you (and your unique personality) into someone else’s box to get paid.

Translated into 7 languages, and featured everywhere from The Guardian to CBS Money and Business Week, “Be A Free Range Human” was one of the first and most popular guides to creating a custom career (without an office or a boss).

Laurie Says: “Jobs are a stupid idea in this economy,” says Marianne Cantwell, setting out her straight-talking view from the beginning. Instead, the only way to be successful is to do what you love and work on your own terms. This book is a practical guide to earning money by doing what you enjoy, from pinpointing your idea to implementing it. The author has a location-independent business, zipping around the world with her laptop. Although the book has a slight bent towards this kind of lifestyle, it is filled with practical steps to creating a business and lifestyle that works for you, whatever your goals.

Some of the chapters include:

  • Why a safe job is actually not that safe - your future is in the hands of one person: your employer

  • Figuring out what you really want out of work and life, and then how to take action – avoiding traps such as endless research, or spending time agonising over a business plan, but instead trying things out and creating test projects.

  • Identifying your target audience, standing out from the crowd, marketing and selling

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