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VOL. 40 | NO. 26 | Friday, June 24, 2016

Good, bad advice on being happy in your workplace

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You have a job. It’s fine. Really, it’s nothing earth-shattering. You show up, do the work, get paid, go home and do it again the next time.

Sometimes, you’re miserable but mostly, it’s OK – though you wonder every now and then if that’s all there is. In the new book “Born for This” by Chris Guillebeau, you’ll see that it doesn’t have to be.

Your best buddy has a job he loves, and you have to admit you’re a little envious. Your job is OK, at best; “soul-crushing,” at worst.

Ah, but what can you do? You don’t necessarily want to be an entrepreneur. You like working for “a conventional employer.” So what then? Guillebeau says, when choosing a road to workplace happiness, to remember that there are actually many roads and none of them are smooth.

The first step, he says, is to ignore mythology. You don’t have to think like a CEO. You don’t have to find a niche. And “if you miss one opportunity, there will be others.”

Next, to find what you were “born to do,” use Guillebeau’s “Joy-Money-Flow” formula: if work makes you happy, pays the bills, and utilizes your skills, then it’s a fit.

Born for This

by Chris Guillebeau

c.2016, Crown Business

$26

320 pages

Know what working conditions you need to stay happy. Don’t just take a job to have a job; FOMO (fear of missing out) is one hazard on your way to a dream career. Have a Plan A, but “remember that there are 25 letters left.” Understand that everybody’s good at something and “if you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else.” Make a list of your best strengths, and hone the ones you know you’ll need. Follow through on commitments. Know when it’s time to shake things up and when it’s time to quit a job. And cultivate a “side hustle” that can support you during those in-between times. You might be surprised to see it become a full-time gig.

Like so many career-advice books today, “Born for This” contains some useful, helpful information, as well as some advice you might want to avoid.

The author surely practices what he preaches: he uses his own dream-job path as one of his many case studies, which is proof that his ideas are mostly workable. They might not be easy, however, and this book doesn’t seem to be as step-by-step as some readers may need.

What bothered me were the things that made my eyebrows raise. Advice to show up at a job you didn’t get, then “just start working and see what happens” is social-media fodder, and could get a job-seeker in trouble. Over-confidence, brass, and sassy questioning of an assignment could get an employee fired.

I think this book is good enough but, like many such works, is only useful to a point. It might help a new graduate or a C-suiter find the perfect job, but it needs to be read with maturity and balance. You may, therefore, find limited help inside “Born for This”… or you may like it just fine.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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