Sometimes answering this question is
dangerous. And the answer might mean you have to change.
Here's how three people let this question lead them in
entirely new directions.
An excerpt from What Should I Do With My Life?
We are all writing the story of our life. We want to know what it's
"about." We demand of it something deeper, or richer, or more
substantive. We want to know where we're headed - not to spoil our
own ending by ruining the surprise, but we want to ensure that when
the ending comes, it won't be shallow.
This book is about that urge, that need.
The people in this book are ordinary people. They did not have
character traits that gave them an uncommon advantage in pursuing a
better life. They're not famous. Most important, when I say these
are ordinary people, I mean they're real. They're messy and
complicated. This is not a story that pretends a one-size-fits-all
formula will result in rosy, happily-ever-after Hollywood
There are many very real stumbling blocks that prevent us from
pursuing this question: never enough money, never enough time. But
we also have many psychological stumbling blocks that keep us from
finding ourselves. Some of these are badly tangled misconceptions,
some are deeply rooted fears. They are often less real than we
imagine. By confronting them we begin to see around all our
obstacles, even the seemingly insurmountable ones.
The people whose stories follow unearthed their psychological
demons. They confronted them, or got past them.
When people heard this book's title, the most common question was,
"So is your book about life, or about careers?" And I'd laugh and
warn them not to get trapped by semantics, and answer, "It's about
people who've dared to be honest with themselves."
TEMPTATIONS VS. ASPIRATIONS
When he was 22 and graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge,
Anthony Wilson faced a choice. His first instinct was to become a
schoolteacher, which he'd worked as one summer in a Palestinian
community in Israel. But Anthony also had an "in" with the British
Foreign Office. There is nothing more prestigious than the Foreign
Office, so Anthony joined it, mostly to keep his family off his
back, reasoning that he could always return to teaching - "I'll do
this, then that."