On Career Crises – from The Book of Life

Have you heard of The School of Life? I first heard of it a few years ago – my sister told me about a friend of hers who was travelling to London (where their HQ is based) to attend the “school” for 2 weeks, I think it was. The School of Life focuses on developing emotional intelligence, addressing every day issues that a lot of people have issues with. Things like finding love, achieving calm, changing the world, little things like that. They’ve now expanded around the world to cities as diverse as Paris, Belgrade, Melbourne and Tel Aviv, as well as selling some beautiful products online.

Another little something they do is The Book of Life; in their own words,

The Book of Life is being written by many people over a long time; it keeps changing and evolving. It is filled with images and films as well as texts. By floating online, it can grow a bit every day or so, as new things come along and it can be equally accessible all around the world, at any time, for free.

And the best part about it is that you can subscribe online and get a bit of the book emailed to you each week; I love that time of the week 🙂 Anyway, last week, one of the links in the email was to this particular piece – On Career Crisis, from chapter 2 (WORK). It’s a really interesting piece, and one I’d recommend to most people – instead of regurgitating it all here, though, I thought I’d touch on some of the more interesting parts…


While I’m certainly not going through a career crisis, I am feeling a little stuck. I’ve never looked at work or career in the same way as most people. I’ve never been too bothered about having a “career;” having accepted early on that my passions would most likely never be my career, I settled on looking for jobs that would enable me to earn enough money and allow me to work reasonable enough hours that I could pursue my passions outside of work. This is mostly because my parents are incredibly hard working and sensible people; while they’ve always encouraged us to dream and chase those dreams with abandon, they’ve also always encouraged us to be sensible about it – no sense in being a homeless, penniless writer. That may have been romantic a few centuries back, but now that’s just irresponsible and silly.


I’ll come back to that, but first, here’s how that piece opens:

In 1700, in Western Europe, there were some 400 different kinds of jobs you could choose from. Nowadays, there are approximately 500,000. No wonder if we sometimes have a bit of trouble settling on what we might want to do.

For most of history, the majority of humans have believed that this life is not the only chance we get to fulfill ourselves. There will be other lives beyond death, in which we will be able to correct the errors made here on earth. Career anxiety stems – in part – from a growing inability to believe in next lives.

An average life might be – only – 600,000 hours long. Identifying fulfilling work requires a judicious blending of fear and haste – with self-examination and patience.

We pin our hopes for happiness on Love and Work. And yet in relation to both, refuse to plan methodically, to understand ourselves thoroughly, to train relentlessly and to go into therapy before we act. We worship instinct in precisely the wrong places.

Got your attention yet?! As it continues, questions are posed. I’ll run you through some of them, and attempt, as I go, to answer them as honestly as I know how.


All parents unwittingly (or not) create a sense that certain jobs are not possible for their children: because the jobs are too lowly, or too high – or just because people in our family don’t do that kind of thing. Reflect on 10 occupations that might have been plausible but were (psychologically) off the table back home.
– Writer
– Journalist
– Photographer
– Artist
– Jedi (actually, dad may have been right about that one…)
– Egyptologist
– Historian
– Archaeologist
– Airforce pilot
Back to my earlier point about my parents, they did passively discourage a lot of these paths, because they wanted to me look at fields where work would always be available, so that I could always have the best chance at being employed and therefore never know financial hardship. So I can’t be too mad at them for that. At the same time, part of my soul would love to know what it’s like to earn money and recognition in the fields I’m most passionate about…

Which of these are you – in the end – best at: numbers, words, images, people?
Words. Always.
And, luckily, I’ve always had a lot of recognition and  encouragement to write from my parents.

Every successful business is at heart an attempt to solve someone’s problem: what are – for  you – mankind’s most interesting problems?
– The lack of happiness so many people suffer from, despite the fact that a lot of us have and know more now than we ever have.
– Restricting self-beliefs that we all have – how much is our potential held back by them?
– How so much of the world still suffers from poverty, hunger, racism, sexism, problems that should have been eradicated decades ago.
– The frequent lack of connectedness between us all. Also, solutions to breaking down some of the barriers by something as simple as food, which has the power to connect so many.
– The fact that everyone has a story, and that they should all be shared – every story shared is more knowledge that comes into the world.

If I was forced to run a shop, it would sell…
Books and home made cookies and tea. And you wouldn’t have to force me into it; running a second hand book and tea shop where I bake and sell cookies daily is a massive dream of mine. If anyone has the financial backing to make this happen before my 50s, I’d love to hear from you hehe



4 thoughts on “On Career Crises – from The Book of Life

  1. i remember when i was headed to college and i was asked what i would major in. i said English because all i wanted to do was READ (until i discovered flip cup) and the question i never delved into was: what will i do with an english degree? teaching was out of the question, i don’t like to be around children or people for extended periods of time. in retrospect, i could’ve gone into editing, or damn it hell, study something i love. in the end, i received a degree in international journalism, only to be burned out by junior year but it was too late to switch majors without having to add on more years of college.
    the thing is, i was raised in households where everyone went to work, whether they liked it or not. there was never ever ever expressions of job satisfaction or happiness. and while i have that mule mentality of showing up for work everyday, at least i do derive some kind of emotion at the end of day. i don’t heart my job, but i’ve been doing it long enough, and well enough, that i can bounce back on my feet in the same industry should anything happen.
    PS. when i was kid i used to fantasize about opening a chain of bookstores, called Book Land and Book World would be HQ, where people could come and browse books and eat and hang out on plush couches and chairs. until i realized i don’t want to waste my time with the business end of stuff, i don’t like people and the idea of people eating and getting their dirty hands on pages and leaving crumbs between cushions gave me a headache. and this was all well before the time of kindles and nooks.

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