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IN YOUR 40s, 50s
BY JOANNA MAXWELL
HARPER COLLINS, 2018
In Australia, like in much
of the West, you are defined
by your career. The first question we ask after
exchanging names is “What do you do?” and
the answer we receive usually opens up an
absurd world of assumptions about background,
taste and class. So it’s appropriate that in a
book written for those who are middle-aged
and beyond, who want to change their career
– and thus much of their identity – we get the
teachings of existentialists.
In the chapter ‘Experiments’ in Joanna
Maxwell’s Rethink Your Career, we find
Kierkegaard: “To dare is to lose one’s footing
momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
The quote is apt. L osing oneself in a career is
common. We forget the reasons we started, and
wonder about the compromises we made. We
can also lose ourselves when a career is taken
from us. In ou r present age, staff are forced out
of a job by tech nological changes so beyond any
individual’s ability to control, it’s terrifying.
This book, as its subtitle suggests, is aimed
at anyone over 40 whose career is lost or who
has lost themselves in a career. It’s clear in its
wisdom, and focused on practical steps – which
seems like the right tone for an older audience
inclined to think that the world, which was once
their oyster, is now a food-poisoning risk.
What do I mean by wisdom? It’s the solid
stuff you’ve heard but need to be retold. For
instance, one chapter insists on self-knowledge.
It gives you the wisdom, then provides exercises
to help you achieve awareness. The benefits are
then illuminated by case studies.
The tasks aren’t superficial either. In a chapter
on imagining a new career, one of the exercises
asks readers to list “every single possible job or
field or course of study or business or project or
significant hobby you have ever wanted to do”.
You are then to combine two or more into a
career – if you like chocolate and teaching, why
not consider teaching how to make chocolate?
You repeat this task with all your cards,
eliminating combinations that hold no interest.
Then you plot the jobs you’ve come up with
onto a matrix of practicality and desirability to
help you find the sweet spot between “I really
want this career” and “this is actually gettable”.
If there’s a fault to the approach, it’s that its
overwhelming. On the other hand, knowing
that changing your career changes your identity,
this seems more like a virtue. •••
OPEN TO THINK:
SLOW DOWN, THINK
BY DAN PONTEFRACT
FIGURE 1, 2018 $48
Citing the poem The Road Not Taken as
something people think they know but
often get wrong, Dan Pontefract offers a
strategy for making better decisions. People
tend to rush to conclusions, skip nuance and
trust assumptions. Instead, Pontefract
says, pause to ponder. The effectiveness
of your thought depends on how well
you sort evidence, reflect upon it and
challenge conclusions. We recommend for
those who’d like to rethink thought.
You are what you do
This month we look at books about changing your career.
BY GIRARD DORNEY
MAKE TODAY THE
FIRST DAY OF YOUR
BY JON ACUFF
PORTFOLIO, 2017 $21
Business author Jon Acuff
offers a formula for investing in your career by
building a Career Savings Account made up
of fou r investments: relationships, skills,
character and hustle. He devotes a section to
each one and shows you how to weather the
four major career transitions: jumps, bumps,
ceilings and opportunities.
Most people don’t plan their career
transitions. These transitions can be voluntary
or involuntary, positive or negative, but you can
manage all of them if you invest in yourself.
Acuff offers practical advice, and he’s downright
funny when discussing how to deal with “stupid
people” who gain promotion anyway, how
to avoid workplace complainers, how to find
advocates, how to polish your skills, and more.
We recommend his advice to people who see
a career change coming down the track, and
especially to those who don’t.
21/9/18 3:25 pm
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