The 7 best books to inspire and guide you through career change
Making the decision to change career paths is no walk in the park. I myself have found structure and strategy in making career decisions through a range of literary sources. Below are 7 books I would best recommend to anyone who, like myself at a stage, may be confused, cautious or just curious the bringing the steps to a career change into fruition.
- How To Find The Work You Love – Laurence G. Boldt
It is estimated that the average person will rack up 90,000 hours of their life in a job so is it really that wrong to like what you do? No. Infact, I believe you should love what you do. Boldt addresses the need for courage to start the search for a new career, and offers strategic advice on how to tap into our own resources to figure out what we are good at and what we would really like to do. This is an incredibly important point as I feel so many of us just rush life and get lost in the hustle of the day, the demands of the world around us and don’t really take the time that’s necessary to think of what’s best for us as individuals. Surely we owe it to ourselves to put research into something which takes up approx. 1/3 of our lives?
- Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
Perhaps you already know what career you would like to pursue, step 1 in the list is ticked off, but even with a passion for a role you may be still tentative to make the change. Will you enjoy the new role? Will your friends and family approve? What if the new role isn’t actually right for you, will you be trapped? Susan Jeffers perfectly uncovers the inner workings of our minds and why making decisions especially life changing ones such as a change in career can prove so challenging. She then flips this mindset on its head by offering a ‘no-lose’ model to make the process of decision making a win-win regardless of whichever choice you make. Sounds too good to be true? Give it a read. Jeffers shares additional food for thought on fear across a range of areas in our lives. She touches on the destigmatization of positive thinking, how it isn’t as unrealistic as society would have us belief. How simply changing a few words in your self-talk can transform you from victim to a place of power. And so it can be agreed that this book is not only relevant to our working life but every aspect of life which requires us to face fear.
- Black Box Thinking: The surprising Truth About Success – Matthew Syed
Although this book is not career based at its core, the extremely effective method of intertwining real life examples of when humans have screwed up with core principles of psychology make for a book I just couldn’t put down. So how does failure link to a career change? It’s exactly that, will I fail at even finding a job, will I fail at the job itself? These questions are daunting and Syed couldn’t explain any better in his book on why failure is essential in life. Even if it means you get fired, this is still a poignant moment for you to learn and persevere. His go to reference throughout the book is the comparison between the attitude of the aviation industry vs that of the health care industry in facing failure. With the former facing it head on and with honesty resulting in one of the lowest mortality rates of any industry, the latter in contrast, focuses on hierarchy – a surgeon’s pride compromising honesty when operations go wrong, nurses feeling inadequate to speak up against doctors. Syed’s core take home message is that in order to learn and grow we must fail. And that by trying to avoid failure you are infact worse off than if failing in the first place. This book can be applied to how you may feel when facing rejection letters, fear of interviews and fear of disappointing those around you. It definitely changed my attitude towards failure. Infact I look forward to failing (ok maybe I’m a bit carried away).
- Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance
A man of the moment, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk knows a thing or two about changing career paths. A ‘.com’ businessman during his entrepreneurial infancy, which in the tech company’s selling could’ve left Musk with a fat cheque and enough snorkelling holidays to leave him permanently pruned. But oh no, for he’s the ultimate risk taker. Investing millions and pushing it into fields he wasn’t initially experienced in – aerospace, renewable energy and car industries. Through Vance’s eyes, Musk’s ballsy go hard or go home approach in pursuing passions and making change on scales much bigger than himself makes for an interesting read to say the least. Surely sending off your application on Indeed.com takes a little less effort then trying to get humankind colonizing the red planet, no?
- Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
Everything can be taken away from us except the ability to choose our attitude in any given circumstance. This is the core message Frankl emphasizes in this truly thought-provoking read – a Viennese psychiatrist who was held captive in both Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps. The relation I make between his book and in changing a career is that so many times we base decisions off of the opinions of others or rely too heavily on external situations. Will my family approve, will they fire me? If your family don’t approve but from your perspective you love the job then that should just be accepted. If you get fired from the job you will learn skills on how to find another route into the career of your choosing. One’s own perspective on a situation can leave them feeling the victim or the power holder. And in no truer a situation than in the one of pursuing your career can this mindset be incorporated to bring the outcome of most optimal success.
- Get a Life, Not a Job: Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work For You – Paula Caligiuri
With the message that ‘ employers no longer show any loyalty to their employees, it’s up to you to take control of your own destiny’, Caligiuri provides a very hands on and intensive approach to gaining the career of your desires. Practical steps including exercises and questionnaires in the book help dismantle the stigmatized airy fairy idea of ‘following your dreams’ and instead cements dream chasing as it as an achievable goal so long as effort is put in. For anyone who doesn’t want to be just a passive listener, this book should kick start you into action.
- Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type – Paul D Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger
Built around the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBPI), this book plays matchmaker between personality type and job fit. So chances are if you’re of a nervous disposition then maybe bounty hunting isn’t for you, in contrast if you like using tax payers money to buy new sinks plugs and paperweights at the cost of a small family car then perhaps take up politics. Either way the authors aim to take it to a personal level so you can show the world your true talents in your ideal role.
So there you have it, 7 and not 8 books which will get you in that dream job by Christmas (potentially). As you’ve came to the end of the article you may be thinking that several of the books chosen here aren’t strictly career focussed and that I’m taking you on some monk-like journey of self-discovery. To me, I see a career as such a big part of my life that the intertwinement of self-discovery and career cannot be divided. So if you don’t like my cushy self-help books then stay in your miserable job!!!!! (joke(not)). In all seriousness, I know job-hunting isn’t easy, I got fired from my very first job at 21, so I can empathize. So I wish you all the best in your career endeavours, you can do it.