What should I do with my life?

February 6, 2007

This inspiring book was written by Po Bronson, an American guy who travelled all over the country, even internationally interviewing thousands of people. He presents the stories of those who have tried earnestly to find their passion, vocation or calling in life. And he also provides pointers, generalisations about the Question, as he calls it. He also has a website

I read this book a few years ago and was so impressed that I even took notes, something I have virtually never done before with a book. So here I am on a hot summer morning with children underfoot trying to re-read my notes while dispensing rusks and tickles. Why?

Does the white elephant need a new career?

Now I’m going to attach the notes, in case anyone’s interested but if you don’t want to read them – here are a few quotes.

“Your calling isn’t something you inherently “know,” some kind of destiny. Far from it. Almost all of the people I interviewed found their calling after great difficulty. They had made mistakes before getting it right.”

“Most of us don’t get epiphanies. We only get a whisper — a faint urge. That’s it. That’s the call. It’s up to you to do the work of discovery, to connect it to an answer.”

“Shouldn’t I make money first — to fund my dream? The notion that there’s an order to your working life is an almost classic assumption: Pay your dues, and then tend to your dream. I expected to find numerous examples of the truth of this path. But I didn’t find any.”

“I met many people who had left the money behind. But having “enough” didn’t trigger the change. It had to get personal: Something had to happen such as divorce, the death of a parent, or the recognition that the long hours were hurting one’s children.”

“The shortest route to the good life involves building the confidence that you can live happily within your means (whatever the means provided by the choices that are truly acceptable to you turn out to be).”

“… being smarter doesn’t make answering The Question easier. Using the brain to solve this problem usually only leads to answers that make the brain happy and jobs that provide what I call “brain candy.” Intense mental stimulation…What am I good at? is the wrong starting point”

“The relevant question in looking at a job is not What will I do? but Who will I become? What belief system will you adopt, and what will take on heightened importance in your life? Because once you’re rooted in a particular system — whether it’s medicine, New York City, Microsoft, or a startup — it’s often agonizingly difficult to unravel yourself from its values, practices, and rewards”

“The first psychological stumbling block that keeps people from finding themselves is that they feel guilty for simply taking the quest seriously”

“It was in hard times that people usually changed the course of their life, in good times they frequently only talked about change”

“Sometimes you need to put yourself first, stop denying what makes you happy in favour of what seems morally correct.”

“Failure is hard but success is more dangerous. If you are successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever. It is much harder to leave a good thing”

“Change Artists are able to have many powerfully intense passions. Changing careers is a modern form of wandering. It’s how we expose ourselves to more of the world without ditching our responsibilities or draining our savings”

“Sometimes people don’t need a new profession, they just need a better life outside work.”

“Don’t pretend what you do doesn’t shape you”
What Should I do with my Life

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3 Responses to “What should I do with my life?”

  1. Amanda Says:

    My problem is that I know just want I want to do but I fear that I will never do it. Partly because I keep sabotaging myself and partly because I despair of getting another job here in Vegas.

    Oh well, I am hopefully off to uni this year again to finish the course as well as knocking on doors to get my foot back in.

    I think I will go over the edge if it doesn’t work out and I have to get another job at the tax office.


  2. Someone close to me is looking for answers and it looks like this both is something we both could read. Oh the lovely serendipity of the blogosphere! Thanks, Sonael.

  3. Eternity Says:

    It’s a real plsauere to find someone who can think like that

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