It's a question many of us have pondered with frequency. Author Po Bronson was asking himself that very question when he decided to write this book - an inspiring exploration of how people transform their lives and a template for how we can answer this question for ourselves.
Bronson traveled the country in search of individuals who have struggled to find their calling, their true nature - people who made mistakes before getting it right. He encountered people of all ages and all professions - a total of 55 fascinating individuals trying to answer questions such as: Is a career supposed to feel like a destiny? How do I tell the difference between a curiosity and a passion? Should I make money first, to fund my dream? If I have a child, will my frustration over my work go away? Should I accept my lot, make peace with my ambition, and stop stressing out? Why do I feel guilty for thinking about this?
This audiobook is like listening in on an intimate conversation among people you care about and admire. Even if you know what you should do with your life, you will find wisdom and guidance in these stories of people who found meaningful answers by daring to be honest with themselves.
"We all have passions if we choose to see them," Bronson writes. "Most of us don't get epiphanies. We don't get clarity. Our purpose doesn't arrive neatly packaged as destiny. We only get a whisper. A blank, nonspecific urge. That's how it starts."
With humor, empathy, and insight, Po Bronson probes the depths of people who learned how to hear the whisper, who overcame fear and confusion to find a larger truth about their lives. A meditation, a journey, and a triumph of storytelling, What Should I Do with My Life? is a life-changing audiobook.
©2003 Po Bronson, All Rights Reserved; (P)2003 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved
"Brimming with stories of sacrifice, courage, commitment and, sometimes, failure, the book will support anyone pondering a major life choice or risk without force-feeding them pat solutions." (Publishers Weekly)
The good part is that it has a collection of interesting stories about how others have resolved their career dilemma, at least temporarily. It gives voyeuristic pleasures. A few of the stories are quite wonderful and seem worhty of emulation. The bad part is that Po Bronson butts in way too much with his own conclusions, opinions,or advice to the interviewees, and much of these seem outright wrong. I often wonder what the heck he is thinking. He also talks too much about his ONE job offer that he turned down that COULD HAVE paid him $300K, soon out of college without any training or advanced degrees and without an established client list, to be a bond salesman for an investment bank. Sure successful bond salesmen make $1 million a year or more, but usually they have a solid client list and have spent many years building that list. Many of them also have MBAs or other advanced degrees from top schools. And the wash-out rate is extremely high for this profession... so COULD HAVE is not remotely the same as IT DID. There's a good NY Times Book review on this book (the reviewer also slams it).
This book is a chronicle of the author's discussions with different people from different walks of life, and how he FELT about them, and how he FELT they FELT about themselves. In short, it's a book about feelings, how normal it is to be confused about "What should I Do with My Life", but it offers no real insight. It is read in an emotive, gooey style and I'm sure that the author intended the reader to weep at the touching insight he provided into "everyday" lives. I fast forwarded through some of the stories as they were, at times, repetitive. If this book were half the length, I'd recommend it. At full length...you'll get cavities.
This is not a 10 step book to finding a better career or a meaningful life, and those that are looking for such a book should look elsewhere. In the author's words: "Is this [book] about life or about careers? ?it's about people who've dared to be honest with themselves, those who fought with the seduction of money. What might we learn from those who had faced up to this question?"
If you reading this review, almost certainly you are searching for answers, and will have expectations to address the questions swimming in your head. This appears to have been the situation with many other reviewers here, and many have been disappointed as this book does not offer a self help guide. It even appears that other reviewers [Jennifer?] are jealous of the author's own experience! So with tempered expectations, and the ability to cope with the drab narration by the author, this book does offer meaningful insight.
The author writes based on his own search to the question "What should I do with my life?" - as well telling the stories of others he interviewed. Many will find value in what the author shares from what he learned from those stories and the patterns that emerged: "Is it supposed to feel like destiny? Should I accept my lot, make peace with my ambition. Should I make money first to fund my dream? How do I tell the difference between a curiosity and a passion? When do I need to change my situation, and when is it me that needs to change? If I have a child, will my frustration over my work go away? What will it feel like when I get there? As if the answers should be obvious too, but they're not."
Many cannot learn without being told specifically what to do, while others can find substance in the experiences of others - and this is what this book offers. Moreover, I appreciated the author's honesty: "The product of these efforts is very different from what was originally envisioned. It reflects what was found not what not what was predicted.
This book was a disappointment. May be I shouldn't have had expectations about it but I thought that, even for what it is, a collection of stories about peole in flux, it was pretty limited.
It's title should have been reserved for other books about the
practical aspects of finding a calling or dealing with not finding it. But there are no rules about titles and the author was succesful coining an alluring one. Some common wisdom is distilled from the stories -mostly of well-to-do over-educated people with ennui:
don't pospone change, don't lock your dreams up, do what feels right
and persevere, money is of little importance, change might be a symptom of something else. A two page leaflet and a couple of examples could have accomplished the same or more.
Anne in Happy Valley
I disliked this book thoroughly, but to be fair, I was reading Tracy Kidder's _Mountains Beyond Mountains_ at the same time -- the inspirational story of Paul Farmer and Jim Kim by comparison, made Bronson look more self-absorbed and vacuous than he might otherwise have seemed.
I don't know if it's just me, but while listening to this audio book, I often found myself thinking, "who cares?" Some people may find the stories inspirational, but it's only been a few months from when I listened to this book... and I don't even remember the point of it. This could be my fault, but I just found this book to be very disengaging.
The author writes like a weepy highschool student but the basic content of this book is good. The only reason to buy this book is to see how other people have changed their lives, basically small autobiographies. Don't buy this book expecting to gain any insight in how to change your life.
I rated it low because the author reads it himself in a horrible sappy voice and I think most people will never listen past the first chapter. I almost didn't. I took an effort on my part to listen to the whole thing because I found myself constantly irritated by the authors voice and writing style. Really a shame because I liked the stories. Overall I would put it low on my list of books to buy.
I disagree with the other reviews. Perhaps it is because I heard an excerpt of Po's book on NPR and knew it to be what it is. It not a self-help book, but a personal journal of his experiences with people as they make life decisions. I found it rather interesting and enjoyable. One additional note: I began my career in public accounting and found Po's narration on his first job at a litigation consulting firm to be eerily similar to my experience.
If you want to better understand the choices that Po Bronson has made in his life, this is the book for you. The author does talk about choices made by other people, but the stories are almost incidental to the ones he tells about himself. If there was a "no star" rating available for this book, I would have given it such.
I picked up this book because I saw Po on Oprah last year, and heard all the rave reviews. I was so disappointed! It was so boring I could not finish it entirely. Maybe the magic was in the chapter I skipped...
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