How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric: A book review
Do you have a niggling feeling that you could be doing something amazing with your life, but you’re not quite sure what that is? Do you want to change careers, but get confused by all the options?
I’ve asked these questions many times, and was extremely happy to find a book about careers that was neither dry nor off with the fairies. ‘How to find fulfilling work’ is a self-help book without the fluff, positive affirmations, and uncovering your childhood trauma. This is self-help for thinking people.
‘How to Find Fulfilling Work‘ draws on ideas from psychology, history, sociology, philosophy, and a variety of interviews and autobiographies. It turns out that fulfilling work is something that people have been researching for many decades now. It is great to know that this is a problem of society, and not just you.
Roman Krznaric’s great book on how to find fulfilling work examines the contemporary world of work and career confusion. I’m one of many people searching for answers about what to do with my life. We’ve spent endless hours searching online for career advice. We’ve taken all sorts of personality tests and skills tests, to see what career we’re most suited for. And we’ve also come up with lots of answers that we’re not so happy with. Many websites and books sound promising, but they are always missing something somewhere. ‘How to Find Fulfilling Work’ is by far the best book I’ve read on finding a career that you enjoy. I love it because it’s practical, shares real stories and science, and it just makes a whole lot of sense to me.
For example, I was so relieved to read that we are confused by career choices these days simply because psychologically there are too many choices for our brains to deal with.
The book is not filled with a bunch of time consuming exercises. Rather, Krznaric asks a few simple questions along the way, with a few tasks that help you uncover you career motivations, like whether you prioritise success, respect, passion, talent, money or making a difference in your career decisions. He then advocates taking action to discover the work you find fulfilling through actually trying out different jobs. Rather than sitting at home reflecting on what you might want to do, follow someone around for a few days who does a job you think you might like, or interview people about their careers and what they enjoy about them.
Taking action is one of the most valuable messages from this book. I’ve spent far too long thinking about what I could be doing, or trying to come up with how I can create careers from my passions. But in the end I’ll never really know what I like until I try things out.
The practicalities of doing fulfilling work are also explored in this book. I love the story of the Pulitzer prize winning poet, Wallace Stevens, who continued working at an insurance agency despite being offered a faculty position at Harvard. It is just one example of different ways we can view our working life. It made me think that perhaps I don’t need to find the perfect career – I just need to find one that is good enough, and allows me to pursue other interests in my free time.
Here are some of the things that went through my head while I read this book: “That is so true! Why hasn’t anyone said this before? Finally, I know the history of careers! I’m reading this too quickly, I’d better slow down or I won’t remember it all!”.
This is the thinking person’s guide to changing careers or finding fulfilling work. Reading this book will help you find your place in the history of work, understand what academics have uncovered in their research, and provide an action-orientated path to feeling fulfilled in your career.
Now I just have to start doing…
About the book
Roman Krznaric teaches classes on careers at the School of Life in London, and has spent many years exploring the world of work.
‘How to Find Fulfilling Work’ is part of a series of innovative self-help books produced by The School of Life. The School of Life operates from a small shop in London, where they offer courses on the important questions of everyday life, including how to find a fulfilling career. One of the founders is Alain de Botton, a pop-philosopher who wrote one of my favourite books, The Art of Travel. For those of us not in London, there are international events and an insightful blog with essays about life, from the elusiveness of cool to a scientific approach to confidence.
They have a series of self-help books like this one has titles including: How to Thrive in the Digital Age, How To Worry Less About Money, How To Change The World and How to Stay Sane.
The age of fulfilment
A short history of career confusion
Giving meaning to work
Act first, reflect later
The longing for freedom
How to grow a vocation
Update: The author tweeted my review! So exciting!
— Roman Krznaric (@romankrznaric) July 16, 2012
I’m also quoted on the author’s website, underneath The Guardian and The Huffington Post!