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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 November 2013
Krznaric took on a noble task - namely trying to help people escape less than satisfying jobs for something more fulfilling. As much as this is a relatively common complaint the author also limits himself early on to advising more or less those of us, who have enough of a safety net to be able to experiment - in other words, the book works best for the middle class. As stated repeatedly throughout the book, little of the advice is useful to those really struggling to make ends meet.

Where you are on that spectrum will then naturally determine how useful you find the book.

The book consists of a combination of research, single cases of people who successfully made the changes in the way advocated and the author's interpretation / own experience. If I was to make an assessment on the balance between the components, it is probably mostly light on the hard research supporting the findings.

Be that as it may, most of the advice is intuitively appealing, even if occassionally a bit naive in terms of how easy / hard it would be to implement the advice offered. One of the main thrusts of the book - namely to exeriment more and analyze only after acquiring some experience is certainly interesting. Few people will be ble to really afford long sabbaticals and serial experimentation in the way recommended but many of the other options described may very well be doable for the average career seeker.

While I find the book adds value, I feel there is better material out there. Something like Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us will add a bit more on what aspects of a job people find motivating (something this book does, too but to a lesser extent), Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life? brings many more case examples of why or how people choose careers (also coming from all walks of life, not just middle class examples) and various works from Foley (such as Embracing the Ordinary: Lessons From the Champions of Everyday Life or The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy) will give you a better idea on how to derive more enjoyment from life, whether you change jobs or not.

Irrespective, there is little wrong with the book and it is likely to get readers at least thinking about the choices made in life and how the career ones could be altered subsequently to something more satisfying. The fact that it is relatively compact and that it reads easily helps, too.
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on 28 May 2012
Although I'm retired, I've struggled to find interesting work at times during my working life and now that I'm free to do what projects I chose, I've find it hard to know which to prioritise, so I got this book.

I wish it had come out years ago while I was still working. It has a very different approach to other career-guidance books; for instance, it argues for finding ways to try out the jobs you're thinking about - as many as possible - in some form or another, such as work-shadowing because it's only by trying them that you'll find out how much you enjoy them (or don't). Other books recommend doing lots of research first and then making the career switch - thinking first, acting later - whereas he's recommending acting first, thinking later.

He also has some interesting exercises for thinking about how you've ended up with the career you've had so far - that stuff alone was worth buying the book for!

I've found this book a real help in choosing among the unpaid work I've been thinking about and I've recommended it to a friend who has been stuck for years in a job she hates while struggling to come up with an escape plan.

It's short (125pp or so) and I read it in a couple of hours. I like books that say what they have to say without padding it out or repeating themselves to make you think you're getting your money's worth.

Highly recommended. I've just ordered his "The Wonderbox", which also looks great. His website is interesting too - he does a lot of work on how to encourage empathy in society.
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on 11 February 2013
With a headline like that and five stars, then it's fairly obvious I love this book. I have a number of the "School Of Life' series and find them to be highly thought provoking and invariably motivate me to make changes in my life. As they say, they don't give all the answers, merely provide the toolkit for you to create your own ideas.
This book is no exception (it has already prompted me to change role within my current organisation), it is an interesting read and provides some great ideas and exercises to get you thinking about what you want from a career. There are a number of exercises which I highly recommend completing - the exercise to understand what motivates you is particularly useful. I'd recommend working through the book in order to get the most from it - the format then allows for dipping back into certain sections for further reference/ideas.
Overall, the book encourages you to examine what you want from a career and go for it, but not in a 'I quit' type way. The book recommends experimenting with other careers as 'branching activities' that you can do alongside your day to day life. This can be a challenge when you have a full time job and kids, but since reading the book, I've commenced several branching activities to help move me onto a different career path.
Definitely worth reading this book for so many reason, the top 3 being:
1) The exercise to understand what motivates you and how you got to where you are today
2) Encouraging you to take action immediately and begin some branching activities
3) The links, references and further reading in the appendices - I always find new things in here when I re-read them
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on 29 January 2013
This isn't a quote from the book but it could have been. I thought long and hard before giving one star for this book because it is well written and has a lot of interesting research about work and how humankind deal with this necessary evil. However I wanted, and was expecting, some kind of suggested action plan to identify what job might suit me and how to progress in that direction. What I got was heavy-duty wordy research/history on work in general and case studies of well paid professionals who had all they needed materially but didn't enjoy their job. News flash everyone struggles to find the enjoyment in their job, although not everyone is as well paid for doing their job as these guys so stop whining.

Anyway the overall answer to how to find fulfilling work was to try out lots of different jobs (in a work experience sense) to see what suits you. I take issue with this as it's a great idea in theory that's simply not possible in the real world. Even if you have money enough to do unpaid work for a while and don't have restricting family commitments, do you know how difficult it is to get work experience? Firstly so many places require a CRB check, even unpaid staff, and it has to be done by each company you're working with. They won't pay £40 for a CRB check so you can have a few days work experience never to be seen again. Equally references are usually required for each new company you work with and while most of us have a couple of people who are happy to write us a reference, would they be happy to write 6 or more a year answering different questions from different companies. If you are well connected you may be able to blag a day here and a day there unofficially shadowing but that won't teach you much about a job and as Roman points out 'lawyers hang out with lawyers' so you'll probably end up shadowing in an industry you already know about anyhow. Those that don't have connections, references, time or money are screwed.

I brought the book because I want to move out of the poorly paid and draining charity sector for a professional career and I found it depressing to hear the case studies of professionals who have everything I want but hate it and after paying off the mortgage go work in the charity sector for that sense of fulfilment. Spare me, charity jobs are fulfilling when you believe you don't have to work as hard (?!) and don't have to rely on the income. For those who work in the charity sector and haven't cleared our mortgage yet, we have daily worries about quality, kpi's, losing funding and losing our jobs to over qualified candidates looking for that warm gushy feeling inside you get from 'charity work'

It's an interesting read on the history of work but that's it. It may inspire hope if you're an unhappy educated wealthy professional looking to take your foot off the pedal with lots of options already but why you'd actually need this book I don't know. For everyone else it doesn't really offer anything practical, of course we'd all love to spend a day or two shadowing the Guardian's assistant editor, or following an a&e doctor around but it's just not going to happen. contrary to the advice in this book most of us do have to work out what we want before we take action because we are limited by money, time, family commitments , lack of contacts, and education. We can't afford to try and if it's not right, try again. If we are going to gamble many thousands of pounds on education or give up paid work to get us somewhere we need it to be the right somewhere. This book does nothing to address these issues so to me it was useless.
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on 24 November 2012
....So why only two stars? Because those for whom it will prove useful would have that kind of money to throw around.

This book is aimed squarely at successful, middle-class professionals who want to switch to a more 'meaningful/fulfilling' career - the author states as much, mentioning that those struggling to support a family on minimum wage or searching for work in their local job centre won't have the luxury of following the advice in this book.

So, its all 'This particular middle class professional gave up being a managing director/lawyer/systems analyst/award-winning documentary film maker & found happiness by becoming head of a charity that provides sewerage systems for third world children, etc, or offers advice on how to give up your current job of working as an investment banker & becoming a literary agent. Or if you're not sure what you really want to do, you could take a year off & try out different careers till you find something that gives you a real sense of fulfilment.... (OK, he chucks in a couple of examples of 'ordinary' folk who found the kind of fulfilling career he's talking about, but its obvious they're the exceptions, and light years from being the rule).

Fine, but for those of us living in the real world...

I can't say I found nothing in this book (or in the others of the series I've read 'How to Stay Sane', 'How to Stop Worrying about Money) but apart from the odd little quote, or 'hmmm' moment they aren't aimed at those of us who are just trying to get our families through the bad times - How to Stay Sane cites an example of a couple arguing over who should do which household task & offers the suggestion that they should either work out a roster or *hire a cleaner* (we can all afford that option, can't we?), How to Stop Worrying about Money (probably the best of the three I've read) has the author offering advice on how to learn to live with the disappointment of not being able to afford that nice little Georgian coffee table that would fit so nicely in his living room.

I know some will accuse me of inverse snobbery or some such, but hey... These books will clearly be useful to those they are aimed at, but for those of us who are struggling to support a family on minimum wage or not much more - or actually anyone not currently paying the top rate of income tax - they don't offer much other than escapist fantasy about what your life could be like if only you were rich & successful - and you can indulge in that for a quid every Wednesday & Saturday.

In the end this felt like "'How to Find Lovely Shoes' - are you unhappy with your current shoes? Looking for different footwear to give meaning to your life? Now, obviously, this book isn't aimed at those people who have to scrape together enough to get their shoes from discount shoe shops, & have to wear their cheap shoes till they fall apart, but for those of you who are feeling miserable with your Manolo Blahniks it may be worth considering a nice pair of Jimmy Choos - and don't rule out Christian Louboutin! If you're unsure which way to go, you could maybe try a pair of each for a while until you find the pair that's just right for you. One lifetime wearer of Blahniks became so unhappy with the meaninglessness of wearing them day in day out that she just upped & bought a pair of Giuseppe Zanottis on a whim & never looked back."
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on 28 October 2014
In some respects this is quite a good book, but I have substantial reservations. Overall it includes a good discussion of the various things that people seek from work - money, status, making a difference, following passions etc. - and how you could go about getting more of what you want from a different career.

However, the assumptions the book makes about the kinds of career most people do and do not want, and hence the appropriateness of the advice, are questionable. The book overall takes the stance that working in large organisations is soul-destroying, and hence on the whole recommends going freelance, starting a small business or working for a charity.

While no doubt working in large organisations is not for everyone, I expect that many people get satisfaction from such jobs, and many people are equally dissatisfied with freelancing and small businesses. Being self-employed or running a small business is often stressful and difficult, and the idea that you are free and 'your own boss' is illusory as you are under the direct control of your customers. I'm sure that for many people, jacking it all in at short notice (as the book kind of recommends in passing) and going freelance or starting a small business would be a total disaster, as there is a high chance of failure. As the book rightly says, status and money (key goals of various high-flying careers) are overrated, and many people could get by on less (e.g. it recommends 4 days a week, which I agree with); but throwing caution to the wind and abandoning stable employment altogether is an extreme response which should be approached with considerable caution.

The 'inspirational' examples given of people like Leonardo da Vinci and Marie Curie, who led unconventional yet fulfilling lives, are misleading as these are rare individuals who made a big success of it. Books like this never give examples of the millions more people who tried and failed miserably, sometimes going bankrupt in the process. What was their job satisfaction like?

The book also makes more specific, and bizarrely Guardian-reader, assumptions made about the kinds of jobs people want. Jobs in the law, finance, or 'corporations' (shudder), are undesirable. And the desirable jobs read like a parody: anything to do with sustainability, animal rights, 'environmental justice' (whatever that means), 'the struggle against the death march of consumerism', 'helping Palestinians use the Internet to spread news of the violence they were experiencing', running an 'organic cafe', an online vintage clothing store, a 'health-food cooperative', a 'baby-yoga cafe' (whatever that is!), or a small business producing 'gourmet meals for babies, like Moroccan lamb stew and cod-and-pea mornay'. I'm not making this up.

Since many people do not want jobs like this, and indeed have a rather different mindset to the author, it does make you wonder how generally applicable his advice is.
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on 31 July 2012
...14-year old at secondary school. What I would've given for this sort of guidance at that stage in my life. The state of careers advice was lamentable (it may still be), an the lack of any deep, practical and tailored advice that went beyond which career to pursue based on aptitudes (as a GCSE student) and avarice has meant many lost years on my part. A lot of the thoughts here are collected from other practical/philosophical 'self-help' books from the last decade in a way that is concise, readable and extremely useful.

My niece turned 16 and finished her GCSE's last month. I gave her a copy of this book, along with Richard Layard's "Happiness", as a gift. There is stuff in both books that I thought she needed to know at this juncture, and these authors had explained it better than I ever could.

I could offer no higher praise.
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on 15 June 2012
I very much enjoyed reading this book - it offers sound advice with a modern approach for anyone who is searching for a more fulfilling life and work balance. I think this book will really appeal to someone who hasn't had a conventional career or yearns to find meaning in their working life. For a small book it really gets to the heart of the matter and guides you with practical suggestions to find your own way to work and life fulfillment.
This book really spoke to me like no other career guidance book and would highly recommend it to anyone considering buying it.
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on 20 May 2012
This is a readable and entertaining book about a subject most of us think about repeatedly throughout our lives: how to ensure we are in the right work for us. Krznaric describes the three basics for meaningful work: alignment with our values, how much our work enables us to enter a state of flow and how much freedom our work allows us. Through a blend of case studies (current day and from historical characters) the book gives practical advice on how to find our meaningful work. Read it and you will think about work differently. A very readable and thought-provoking book that made me not only think deeply about my career path, but also encouraged me to read items from the bibliography, just to find out more!
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on 26 May 2012
This book is it has to be said a very fulfilling read. If you're wrestling with that common conundrum of balancing security and income with happiness and fulfilment you'll quickly see you're not unique. What's more you'll discover how we arrived at this place - where more of us dislike work than enjoy it.

Finally, Kznaric shows you how to discover your vocation - perhaps even your mojo!

Buy it - read it - then do something about it!
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