This summary and review of the book, What Should I Do with My Life: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question, was prepared by Kelly Indest while a Management student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.
The answer to this question does not come easy. There are many answers and many paths a person can take when figuring out the purpose of one’s life. A lot of times people get distracted by the physical objects we obtain throughout life when we should be focusing on the skills we learn and the difference we make. To find that special place in this world it takes patience and the search for happiness. Some people have the problem with settling for a job because of laziness, distorted views, or fear. The best way to avoid getting into a job or career that isn’t for you, is to follow your gut and use the signs around you. This book offers insight on those decisions. It travels though eight sections separated into categories that give you an up close view on personal experiences and people who have taken rocky roads to get to where they are now. Happy with with their life, the job that they work for, the daily decisions being made, and a place where they can express themselves. Some people in this book take years to find their niche, while others are still searching. This book goes though many different stages where most people have found themselves, are finding themselves, or will find themselves.
Common themes that have occurred in this book are that everyone is different and not to dwell on what other people think. That sense of “rightness” focused on people who try to make right decisions in life. Many of us can relate that sometimes you second guess yourself trying to figure out if this decision will be right for you. In another class focuses on the importance placed on social classes and how hard it is to break that notation to live. This has been a struggle for many years and it is hard to avoid the temptation of money. In temptations vs. aspirations people have internal conflicts deciding on jobs with money and jobs with heart. In destinations vs.journey people have struggled with the long road and the seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In the section called know thyself, people become more aware of their calling in life and try to follow that passion. In changes of scenery some people change location, while others try to forget their past. Relationships and families is probably the most understanding section in the book. We all have families and friends and their opinions tend to sway us in different directions. It is important to know where you stand on how influential their opinions will be and also where you draw the line. To easily your dreams can accidentally become theirs and this could lead to unhappiness. The last section in the book is called the appropriate time frame. This talks about last chances and the importance or unimportance of time in life.
Overall this book was an interesting read and the first type I have ever read like this. I believe this book is inspirational with a flare of the truth. It is very interesting to read about such a book that offers real life story to challenge your own daily decisions. I would recommend this book for people who are looking for their place in the world and wondering how to find it and where to look. It offers many problems that some people come face to face with and others are not as unfortunate to have to deal with. Life lessons can be learned and mistakes can be avoided through the stories of other people.
The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from What Should I Do with My Life
1. The first section in this book deals with the sense of “rightness”. These seventy pages focus on some remarkable people who have found their calling in life. These roads to these places of belonging came with some form of struggle. Life should be about the skills we learn in life rather than the things we posses. Sometimes people feel as though they need a confirmation that they are in the right career path, but they waste time waiting on this clarification. Don’t risk your happiness in life on uncertainty and follow your gut if fulfillment is not present.
2. The second section of this book focuses on classifications in life. These stories tend to be somewhat politically based and contains some unfortunate events. People tend to focus on status in life, which normally revolves around monetary value. Some people with higher incomes sometimes look down upon those who make a living through mediocre jobs. These jobs do not necessarily define these individuals and can be more fulfilling then higher income based jobs. Relying on possessions to make a life worth wild can instead leave a person with an empty and unhappy life.
3. The third section in the book is the struggle with temptations and aspirations. We learn that it is not the end of the world to get off track with our career goals. These experiences can reinforce our passions. One story was about a man who had a true passion for writing and got distracted by writing stories for money than writing them with passion. He became a sell out in the pursuit of popularity and ignored his inner desires to write back in his hometown. Another woman struggled with the choice of her career and being a house wife. She realized she has more than one calling in life. It took her almost forty years to get back to her career goals, but she feels as though her time spent raising her children truly benefited them. Life might not go to plan, but it is important to never lose your passions.
4. In another section of this book, the short stories focus on the lives of four people dealing with the journey to their careers. Three important points came up in the section. Time frame, permanent goals, and a balanced life can really change perspective on not only a job, but a lifestyle. Time frame refers to the amount of time given to complete a task or goal and how these things should not be rushed. Permanent goals can help alleviate setbacks and encourage hard work. Having a balanced life helps stop work overload and allows for other activities to take place.
5. In the filth section of this book the short stories tend to focus on destination versus the journey.This includes the rocky road it takes to get to your chosen path in life. Many people in these short stories have enjoyed the destination more than the journey. Sometimes it is hard to find that destination.While some people thrive in the destination others thrive in the journey.
Po Bronson at the 2009 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
6. In another section in the book the short stories focus on the understanding of one’s self. This section focuses on the person we are. If their is enough time spent on understanding yourself then you should be able to find your passions and get a job related to it. If you can answer the question Who am I and What do I believe then you can find your place in this world and achieve happiness.
7. Sometimes changing location can mean all the difference in the world. In this section people learn that no only physical location that needs to be changed but also where you stand in the world metaphorically. Sometimes a location can change us for the better, but it should not be mistaken with forgetting the past. The past should not be forgotten only improved.
8. In the last section, the appropriate time frame, we learn through these people the power of patience and persistence. These people struggle with the importance or unimportance in life. Should you really go back to college at the age of forty. It depends on if that is your dream in life. You should not give up on a dream because of time.
9. One main theme in this book is that we are all different and move at different paces. Some people will have one job their entire career, while other people will have multiple career changes. No one should be judged for the choices they make in their life because we all live life for different reasons. This book helps to teach experiences and shed light on similar issues that people face. This book can be inspirational if you put the effort into relating the stories o your own life.
10. Another main theme is don’t be afraid of what other people think. If you are not happy with your current job or career choices, change it. Do not be ashamed to go and chase your dream back going back to college or completing an unfinished degree. Changing careers is nothing to be embarrassed about and can really pay off in the end
Full Summary of What Should I Do with My Life
The message of this book is to be an inspirational look into the future or the past, depending on your stage in life, of career choices and how they affect the person we are. Not all jobs have a correlation to the depths of our soul, but most people would like to think that they work at their job for a reason. This book slowly depicts the reasoning behind job choices and whether or not it can last a lifetime. This book contains people who have had the same job their entire life and then people who jump from job to job in search of their passion in life and the true search of happiness. The author’s own struggle is presented in the book in a few sections. There are many themes to think book, but I believe that everyone mentioned in the book have the ultimate goal of being happy. Happy with with their life, the job that they work for, the daily decisions being made, and a place where they can express themselves. Some people in this book take years to find their niche, while others are still searching. This book goes though many different stages where most people have found themselves, are finding themselves, or will find themselves. It dives into the topic of identity and how we are defined as human beings and individuals. It also tries to answer the question, “Where do I belong?”. This book is a great read and really reveals the lives of people around us and makes us think deeply about our own lives. The first section presented in the book is called the sense of “rightness”.
The Sense of “Rightness”
In my opinion, this was the most intriguing section in the book. These stories focus on people who have found their calling in life through rocky roads and longing for finding their place in the world. Some of these people had their passions clearly sitting in their lap and never thought twice about perusing that dream. Some were told to stop messing around and hurry up and find a job that you can stick to. Kat James was getting paid very well and was offered a extraordinary raise when she decided to leave her career of desk work to pursue a passion in gardening. She went to school and worked her tail off to in turn become a landscape gardener and fulfill her dream of working outside and enjoying the fresh air. Warren Brown was a lawyer and wasn’t happy with his life. He decided unlike most people to fix his problem and find what made him happy. He became a baker and decorated cakes. He enjoyed making people happy and helping them celebrate special moments with a delicious cake. Jessica Grossman was an extremely successful OBGYN and she learned her passion from her father. He was a well respected doctor and Jessica wanted to be just like him. The only problem with Jessica is that she didn’t have an off Switch which meant she didn’t know how to say no or take are of herself. She was emotional connected to her job and so dedicated that couldn’t even tear herself away from these people who needed her to use the rest room. Well eventually Jessica realized that this job, even though rewarding, was tearing herself apart. She realized she had to pursue another job because she had to with her personality. These people seemed to have picked a lesser career choice, but this is not true. We only see it this way because of how we view success. They were very successful in their new jobs. They were not making as much money as they were with their previous jobs, but it made them and happy and they were successful at it. Most people would not have the courage quit a well paid job to peruse a completely different field and have the possibility of failing.
In Another Class
This section is about finding where they belong with a focus on the types of social classes these people ended up in and started in. One story was about a man, Anthony Anderson, who became a diver for companies that have constructional foundation underwater. Anthony came from a history of being bullied by peers and by his close family. After working on oil rigs he decided he waned to be a diver. After being denied he turned to books and education for understanding. With his new knowledge he was able to get hired as a diver. Anthony’s story was about struggle and how he overcame odds with hard work. Another story had quite another angle on social classes. Bryce worked in the oil business his whole life and eventually ended up in a nasty situation helping an oil company to cover up their tracks when it came to safety issues. Bryce meant well when he received his degree in environmental science, but fell victim to the empty hopes of money and fast women. Eventually, after being burned by the dame oil company, he realized that he needed to fight this injustice and settle some revenge. He became apart of aw enforcement and personally visited that oil company knowing all the tricks already. Bryce tried his hardness if not for revenge for fixing what he had gotten paid so well to hide. Special admiration for someone to leave a lifestyle like that a result to a somewhat average paying job. Also on the flip side Anthony becoming a quite successful man when he came from a somewhat rough background.
Temptations Vs. Aspirations
Everyone deals with temptations in their own way, but sometimes they can taunt you from your true goals in life. Is it more important to make money or have a nice care or should you focus on your main goal in your career and being searching for that golden opportunity that will complete your true passions. Sometimes our deepest values and desires can be blocked by trivial and monetary means. For instance should a man write about true and meaningful points in his life or write a screenplay to make some quick money, but realize that that short series does not represent who you are and what you have to offer. One particular story in this section made me realize the love of a parent and the sacrifices they make to hope for the best life for their child. This story was about Mary Ann Clark who was a stay at home mother for close to forty years. She desperately had a sense of making a difference in the world and using her brain. he had a great sense of independence, but she also put her family first and put of entering the working force until all of her children were grown. She did manage to receive a degree slowly over the course of a few years. She had a patience I’ve never even heard about. She had a dream and she held onto it and I feel as though everyone should try and posses this much passion and patience.
Destination Vs. Journey
This section focuses on how many people have the long journey to end up where they belong. Some people feel as though they have wasted their time when they find their purpose in life, but people should take their experience and struggle and use it to their advantage. This was not the case with Russell Carpenter. He was a man who had only one job his entire adult life. He did not have a loyalty to NASA, but he had no reason to leave. We learned three things about this man. Time frame, not allowing setbacks to interfere with life long goals, and to have a balanced life.This was the success to his happiness. He allowed ample enough time for him to finish projects at work. This avoided the short and quick stimulation most jobs have. He had one main goal and focus in life and do not allow minor setbacks to get in his way. He also used he free time correctly. He did not over work, instead he enjoyed his recreational time. While another person in the book, Heidi Olson, had a different method to achieve her happiness in life. She had many jobs and continues to change her job focus, but she invests enough time to make a difference at each of her many jobs. This made her feel as though she had accomplished enough to move on to the next interest. This may be an unconvientionale lifestyle but it worked for her.
This section focuses on understand ourselves before we decide what job we would be best suited for. Nicole Heinrich was one of those people. She dealt with using things to make her fell happy. Well if this happens maybe I will feel better about this job. Po offered some great advice in this section. He said if you succeed and your still not happy, it normally means that you are conflicted in your heart. Many different people have many different types of morals. You may be a great CEO, but if you feel guilty about your path to success, it will eventually way on your mind and soul. It is better to be true to yourself and not allow the short cuts and greed to take over your life. If you know yourself and who you are then you can avoid making these mistakes and start paving out your life based on happiness. When understanding oneself it can be hard to know what to look for. To break down this understanding of ourselves we can ask What do I believe in? What do I want to fight for? and What is my purpose in life? These are very deep questions and they should be thought over not for short periods of time but as you go through life. Understand yourself and what you want and really make life more enjoyable and worth living. It creates a personal connection with yourself. This is not just someone walking to life existing it is your life and you get a say.
Changes of Scenery
Sometimes life can be about the places we go and the places we live. Here in this section location and placement plays a role on happiness. Many people use changing scenery as a way to start fresh and act on other ambitions in life. Ashley Merryman was a woman in this section that found God. With the help of the church she became whole again. They helped her with her rocky path and changed this woman into a someone who cared and made a difference. Sometimes having something to believe in can make a life worth living. In this case the church saved Ashley’s life. Many different people have different views of the church, this only enforces the theme of the book, everyone is different. Do not go through life avoiding these questions in life, believe in something. People sometimes feel as though they can become new people with changing their location. It offers a sense of starting over and having a clean slate. This feeling is nice to have, but should never be mistaken as a problem solver. chances are if you had issues in your former place of employment then you will have those similar issues here. Personal problems should be dealt with on a personal level and should not be swept under the rug.
Relationships and Family
This section is based on the role family and friends play in our lives. Most people keep family close in their decision making process. They want the gratification of thoughts and opinions on life long goals and decisions. Family begins when you are young and having bad memories of the past or bad experiences with your family can shape that person for the rest of their life. Family can include parents and siblings or can include a wife and children of your own. Sometimes families play a huge role in course studies, job selection, and overall happiness of that person. Don’t let the opinions of family members overwhelm your choices in life. If a person is not careful they can wake up and realize how unhappy they are because they are not following their own personal goals in life. Sometimes you have to put your happiness over your family’s happiness.
The Appropriate Time Frame
Some people believe that only at certain ages you are allowed to accomplish certain tasks. Life has different callings to all of us and we can get that calling when we are young or when we become older. Whether we realize that we are or are not happy is up to us to decide if we want to change the course of our lives. Timing has everything to do with life and just because we get older doesn’t mean we need to stop having dreams. Callings in life can come and at different points in life and we should embrace this calling with change. Moving on from a past career can cause confusion and an array of feelings. It is hard to move on when life is so comfortable and so understanding. Life has to move for some people and you can only surpress your calling for so long. Signs are given and they should not be ignored follow your heart and use the insights avilable to you. If you follow these happiness and good fortune are sure to follow.
This book is great for not only inspirational reading but also for life advice. This book made me think about my life and put it into perspective. It made me think of what I really wanted to do when I graduated. I really enjoyed the wide range of short stories this book had to offer. I feel as though reading this book has helped me to eliminate some mistakes and think clearer about my future employment. This book focused on eight different sections with multiple stories. Common themes that have occurred in this book are that everyone is different and not to dwell on what other people think. That sense of “rightness” focused on people who try to make right decisions in life. Many of us can relate that sometimes you second guess yourself trying to figure out if this decision will be right for you. In another class focuses on the importance placed on social classes and how hard it is to break that notation to live. This has been a struggle for many years and it is hard to avoid the temptation of money. In temptations vs. aspirations people have internal conflicts deciding on jobs with money and jobs with heart. In destinations vs.journey people have struggled with the long road and the seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In the section called know thyself, people become more aware of their calling in life and try to follow that passion. In changes of scenery some people change location, while others try to forget their past. Relationships and families is probably the most understanding section in the book. We all have families and friends and their opinions tend to sway us in different directions. It is important to know where you stand on how influential their opinions will be and also where you draw the line. To easily your dreams can accidentally become theirs and this could lead to unhappiness. The last section in the book is called the appropriate time frame. This talks about last chances and the importance or unimportance of time in life. This book was an overall great read and helps answer questions that everyone has had or will have in the future.
The Video Lounge
This video shows the top ten 2011 job opportunities. This is just a short clip about different job options and a description to follow. This can open people’s eyes up to a different selection of jobs that may be available to them.
Why I think:
- The author is one of the most brilliant people around…or is full of $%&#, because:
I have never read a book similar to this. I haven’t read a lot of business books, but this one in particular is extremely inspirational and helps put future endeavors into perspective. I enjoyed the personal short stories of many different types of people and careers. He adds a certain type of humor to the book and adds real life struggles to counteract with the question, What Should I Do with My Life?
- If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:
1. Even though I did thoroughly enjoy this book, I do have some suggestions. I felt the book to be a little lengthy. I feel that some types of stories were repeated through the book and could have been left out.
2. I did not like how the book was set up. I felt that some of the eight sections could have be set up differently. I also believe that even though stories were separated into sections they still overlapped heavily with other stories in different sections.
3. I also found some of the titles confusing and off point with the stories written. Some titles could have had more suited titles which intrigued the story told. On the other hand, I felt some of the story titles had no reference to the story given.
- Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:
1. This book made me feel differently about jobs in general. I now have an understanding of a variety of different jobs out there that people, depending on their values and personality, hate and love. I have an understanding of people’s choices when it come to a source of income and trying to live their dream.
2. When reading this book it made me think differently about my own life. Multiple times I put the book down to research job opportunities in my field of interests. I believe I can learn a lot from not only from my own experiences, but through other people’s stories. I feel as though this book has helped me avoid some mistakes in the future.
3. This book made me have a new respect for stay at home mothers. I one day may have children and therefore these stories offered enlightenment, but also fear. I will also have to make the decision to either take off work to raise my children or stay in the workforce and rely on other means.
- I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:
1. Now I understand that it is okay that I don’t know exactly the company I want to work for when I graduate. It is okay to have a starter job or three before that dream job becomes available. Even though it may be hard to have patience I know that if I listen to myself that I will find a job where I can be happy.
2. I know not to let money or power influence my values and core beliefs. Values make me who I am and my current job or career in life should not compromise my beliefs. Self control is important to have when dealing with certain situations in a work related environment.
3. I have also learned from this book that I have been given great opportunities that not everyone gets a chance at. I am grateful for my education and I now have a sense of respect for those who come back to school after many years. Education plays a huge role in our society and it is something that no one can take from you.
- Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:
I found a a review from Sonder Book Reviews that was of interest. It was similar to my review of the book. It mentions that this book stuck with them and was enjoyable to read. Not because of the literature but because of the chilling realness. It is one of those books that keeps you thinking and makes you relate yourself to the stories presented.
Eklund, S. (2005). Sonderbooks. Retrieved from http://www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/whatshouldido.html
Bronson, Po. What Should I Do with My Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 20085. 434. Print.
(2011, April 29). You tube. (2011). . Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQHIJEJIlu8&feature=related
Flanagan, C. (2003, January 12). Get a job. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/12/books/get-a-job.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
Good Reads. (2011, May 17). What should i do with my life?: The true story of people who answered the ultimate question . Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/163365.What_Should_I_Do_with_My_Life_
To contact the author of this article, “A Management in a Minute Book Overview of What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson for Practicing and Aspiring Managers” please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Publisher
David C. Wyld (email@example.com) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of his student’s publications regarding:
- management concepts (http://toptenmanagement.blogspot.com/)
- book reviews (http://wyld-about-books.blogspot.com/) and
- international foods (http://wyldaboutinternationalfoods.blogspot.com/)