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November 13, 2007

News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - What Should I Do With My Life?

By: Aaron Schleicher @ 4:31 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Ask 8cr! is a section of our blog used as a forum to address the kinds of issues and challenges people are having in the workplace. We take these issues and apply a business book we feel offers a viable solution. Others then chime in via the comments section. The person with the selected challenge gets a free copy of the book, but everyone who reads these posts, wins. What's your challenge at work? Send it to me at jon(a)800ceoread(dot)com.
Today's challenge deals with developing underutilized skills and getting on a path that's more in line with your interests. Here's what one of our readers is dealing with:
"I am not happy with the career path I seem to be on. I would like to get out of the accounting field but don't want to 'start over' or go back to school. I know I have some skills that will translate but have doubts whether others might see them. Any thoughts on mid-career changes?" - Roger
The previous Ask 8cr! post featured Seth Godin's The Dip, which also addressed the issue of personal change, and knowing when and how to adapt to it. This week we have a reader looking to move forward based on skills that might not be recognized and utilized enough. And not utilizing them often enough is exactly what others will analyze when considering Roger's move into another area. "What should I do with my life?" might be the fundamental question. It's something we ask ourselves when we're young, but, as Roger proves, something we can ask ourselves throughout our careers. People change, skills change, and each person's perspective on what they want becomes an internal issue, regardless of the physical work they've spent their lives doing. Author Po Bronson recognizes this, and wrote a New York Times Bestseller called, appropriately, What Should I Do With My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered The Ultimate Question.

The author traveled the country and met with a variety of people and listened to their stories. He discovered a wide range of challenges overcome, internal stumbling blocks, people finding happiness, and people struggling, all to answer the question posed by the book (and themselves). It's about discovering and pursuing something to devote your life to. Maybe that happens where you already are, but maybe not. Take Roger, for instance. He admits he's not happy, he wants change, BUT, he doesn't want to do what he feels is likely the solution to make the change. He knows he has other skills (and those might be his true interests), but he has doubts about their validity to others. As the book shows, Roger is not alone in this situation. But things can, and do, change.
By reading the 50+ stories in the book, you walk away with a deeper sense of all the variables, both internal and external, that make the title of the book such a profound question. From a New York housewife, a content editor, a White House assistant, to a California police officer, the stories in this book are interesting glimpses into real people's lives that end up reflecting our own pursuits, missed opportunities, hopes, dreams, and quite possibly, our decision to finally take life by the horns and follow our interests simply because we want to, despite all the "reasons" not to. It's an inspiring book and a great read, revealing evidence of those who overcame the "buts" and doubts that hindered them. Pick it up and find your answer to the question it poses.

About Aaron Schleicher


Aaron Schleicher has been the author services specialist at 800-CEO-READ since 2004. You can usually find him hidden under a baseball cap, feet kicked up on his desk, talking with authors, publishers, and businesses. Outside the office you can find him crafting candles, listening to records, and making music with friends and family.