How to find fulfilling work

The topic of how to find fulfilling work is such a first world problem that I was prepared for How to Find Fulfilling Work to be a book worthy of dissing. Additionally, because none of the stories and advice in the first half of address people who have the responsibility of providing for children, and therefore don’t have the luxury of taking a “radical sabbatical” and so forth, I was ready to toss it aside.

But then I came to the three exercises on pages 88-93. The first exercise asks you to spend 10 minutes making a map of sorts of all the jobs you’ve held. I went ahead and listed everything, from my part-time jobs in high school and college, the temp jobs in between my “real” jobs, and also my self-employment. It’s the first time I’ve studied my work history in this way, rather than as something simply to put on a resume, and it was eye-opening. Another exercise asks you to list five jobs you might want to try if you have a year off to work any job you wanted. It was interesting to note both the patterns and wild disparities. The third exercise is to write a half page personal advertisement about yourself wherein you describe your interests and motivations (but don’t mention specific jobs) and then show it to 10 people you know in different walks of life and ask them to read it and recommend 2-3 different careers for you. I haven’t done that exercise yet but can see how it could be helpful.

I liked the story of the poet Wallace Stevens. His day job was in insurance and he even declined a professor job at Harvard after he became famous. The Marie Curie story was interesting too.

Yep: “without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.” – Albert Camus.

“Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation. – Aristotle. That sounds good but how to achieve it? This book will at least spark a few ideas about vocation and career.

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