It’s no secret that answering the what-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up question has been a toughie for me. I’ve been an environmental educator, an aerobics instructor, the social director at a retirement home, and had my own personal training business as well as worked in a number of gyms and managed a sport and recreation facility. I’ve dropped out of teacher’s college and massage therapy school and I've auditioned to be a fitness expert on reality TV.
My epic quest for career contentment and fondness for non-fiction have gone hand in hand, and perusing the self-help section at the bookstore always gives me a rush. Maybe one of these books will contain the answers I’ve been seeking. Many have been stinkers, but the following three books have been truly helpful and insightful, and helped convince me that I wasn’t crazy to think I could (discover and) follow my dreams.
The Career Guide For Creative And Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry
As I shared on my About page, I felt like a square peg in a world of round holes for an uncomfortably long period of time. Reading this book was like turning a corner and coming upon a field of happy, dancing square pegs eager to share the secrets of their success. Eikleberry breaks down the six basic personality types according to psychologist John Holland – Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Investigative, Realistic, Conventional – and further dissects the creative personality. She prompts and encourages the reader to discover the specifics of what their ideal career would look like and provides valuable tools to define or design that career by listing 25 categories that encompass 270 different creative occupations.
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson
This is a brilliant book by a brilliant and very forward-thinking man. Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally respected educator, speaks on encouraging different types of intelligence with characteristic British wit. Robinson describes The Element as “the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.” And, he says, when people arrive there, “they feel most themselves, most inspired, and achieve at their highest levels.” Included are the stories of famous creatives such as Paul McCartney, Meg Ryan, Arianna Huffington, and choreographer Gillian Lynne. Robinson encourages the reader to think differently about intelligence and to discover themselves by finding their tribe: “For most people, a primary component of being in their Element is connecting with other people who share their passion and a desire to make the most of themselves through it.” Watch his TED Talk on creativity below.
My So-called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman
As a follow-up to Goodman’s The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, My So-called Freelance Life provides a detailed map for navigating the freelance world. With 15 years behind her as a successful freelancer she brings weight to her advice on time management (especially when working from home), pursuing ideal clients, and shunning the “notion that artists have to starve” by creating a business plan. This book is easy to read, filled with knee-smacking humour, and leaves you with the hopeful epilogue “I Am Freelance (And So Can You!)”