Friday, 30 August 2013

"How to Find Fulfilling Work" book review

I recently read a book "How to Find Fulfilling Work" by Roman Krznaric.

I highly recommend it to everyone who desires to have a job far worth more than just a paycheck. The book explores the competing claims we face for money and status while doing something meaningful in life and in tune with our talents.
Some questions that are answered in this book are:
  1. What are the core elements of a fulfilling career?
  2. Should we prefer a carreer that offers great pay and social status over working for a cause we believe in?
  3. Should we aspire to be a high achiever (highly specialized in one field) or wide achiever across several fields?
  4. How can we balance our career ambitions with demands of being a parent? As the author puts it "Can we have it all"?

Below is the gist and some excerpts from the book:

The author answers the above questions by seeking inspiration from lives of famous figures and also looking for insights in the writings of philosophers, psycologisits, historians and sociologists. He also suggests practical activities to clarify our thinking and narrow down our career options. The author encourages us to understand the source of confusion that is in our present job, take a step to leave old job behind. And reject the myth that there is single, perfect job out there waiting for us to discover it. Instead we have to identify our multiple selves - explore a range of careers that might suit the different sides of our character. Finally, we have to test-run our various selves in the real world.

The Age Of Fulfillment

For centuries, most inhabitants of the Western world were too busy struggling to meet their subsistence needs to worry about whether they had an exciting career that used their talents and nurtured their well being. But today we have entered a new age of fulfilment, in which the great dream is to trade up from money to meaning.

What are the core elements of a fulfilling career?

The 3 essential ingredients are meaning, flow and freedom

What meaning really means?
There are five different aspects of what can make a job meaningful:
earning money, achieving status, making a difference, following our passions and using our talents.

These are the fundamental motivating forces that drive people in their career. Both money and status are 'extrinsic' motivating factors whereas the remaining three are 'intrinsic'.

So now the question we need to address is: Which of these motivations should be the principal guide in our career decisions?
  • Choosing a career for its monetary rewards is the oldest and most powerful motivation in the world of work.
  • Status can be an important way to boost our self-esteem. Of course, most of us want recognition from others. The feeling that we are respected by others for what we do and how we do it is one of the keys to have a meaningful career.
  • We desire to make positive contribution to people and planet. We want to be able to perform some virtuous and noble deed that would give our lives a sense of purpose.
  • While an ethical career is one intrinsically rewarding path to the good life, there is also the option of focusing on passions and talents. Do what you love and what you're really good at.
Although we all desire money and status to some degree, a career decision driven primarily by these extrinsic motivations is unlikely to offer sublime depths of meaning to our lives.

What 'flow' means?
It is widely accepted fundamental indicators of 'life satisfaction' or 'happiness'. A flow experience is one in which we are completely and unselfconsciously absorbed in whatever we are doing. Being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.

What 'freedom' means'?
This is a range of ideas right from more free time, more space in lives for relationships and to be self.

The activities suggested in the book devise you narrow down the career options. What next?

Act first, Reflect later

While some people are inspired by stories of bold career change, they may make others feel inadequate or even intimidated. Why? We often lack the courage to do so. How can we develop the courage to change and make the right choices along the way? First, why are we afraid of change -  we worry we wont succeed, we are too old to change, we cant afford financial risks or new job may not offer satisfaction.

Second, we must start testing out our different selves. We must enter a more playful and experimental way of being, where we do then think, not think then do.

Then indecision brings its own delays
And days are lost lamenting over the days
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute,
What you can do,or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.


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