I spent 17 years working at a job I hated, afraid to pursue my passions. I’ve spent the past two years doing something I love, and the difference in my attitude is like night and day. Some folks take the position that a job is just a job, that it’s not meant to be enjoyed, but merely to provide an income. I’m not one of these people. Neither is Alexandra Levit.

In her new book, New Job, New You, she writes:

Many people stay in unsatisfying careers because they believe positive change is impossible, [but] finding work that fulfills you and meets your needs is completely doable.

Levit says that people who change careers have several common motivations. Each of the seven chapters in New Job, New You explores one of them:

  • Family — For many people, it’s important to put family first. Not every career allows this. In this chapter, Levit highlights ways to shape a career that maintains your income but also allows for time with your loved ones.
  • Independence — The number-one reason people want to change careers is a drive for greater independence. They want to work for themselves, or have control of their future. This chapter explores entrepreneurship as a motive for change.
  • Learning — For some, the desire to know and do more is the catalyst for career change. Here, Levit looks at folks who have gone back to school or obtained other training in order to shift careers.
  • Money — Ah, yes. Our favorite topic at Get Rich Slowly. As you might expect, there are plenty of people who change careers out of a desire to earn more money. This chapter looks at folks who escaped from low-paying careers boost their income.
  • Passion — I have a soft spot for this career-change motivation. I’ve pursued my passion, and it’s paid off. I’ve talked with many others who have done the same. Not everyone can pursue their passions, of course, but if you’re one of the lucky few, work can be profitable and fulfilling.
  • Setback — Sometimes career change is unintentional. In this chapter, Levit shows how losing your job can sometimes be the perfect launching pad to something completely different.
  • Talent — Finally, Levit looks at what happens when folks have talents they just can’t suppress. (This motive is very similar to passion — so similar, in fact, I can’t really tell the difference.)

Each chapter features real-life stories from five people who started in one career, but in their twenties or thirties experienced one of the above catalysts, leading them to make the leap to something different.

For example, Jason Miller started out in his family’s construction business, but he felt like the job was a dead end. He began to dabble with his passion for photography. Levit describes how Miller found a mentor, honed his skills, and started his own business. From the book:

Jason tells those who have identified a passion to assess how important it is to turn that passion into a career. “You have to look at the cost and see if it’s worth it to you. If it is, don’t stop and never give up unless it sacrifices your integrity or relationships with the people you love. And remember that even if you love what you do, your work should never define who you are.”

There’s more to New Job, New You than just stories, though. Each chapter includes a section with tips for putting the change to work. This is motivational and meaty stuff, with steps you can take to explore your own possible career change.

My quibbles with New Job, New You are minor. I’m not a fan of books with quizzes and exercises. (Guess what Your Money: The Missing Manual won’t have!) Levit’s book has a big quiz called “Should You Make a Career Change?” to kick things off, but it seems pointless. Why not let people decide by reading the book? The end-of-chapter questions and exercises are a little more relevant, but I’d rather have seen the space devoted to even more stories or how-to tips.

I’m a sucker for personal stories. I learn more from hearing how real people succeed than from theoretical advice from “experts”. If you’re not a fan of personal anecdotes — if you’d rather just have a list of bullet points that tell you how to get the job done — New Job, New You probably isn’t your best choice. Sure, Levit has plenty of concrete actionable steps here, but most of the book contains true-life stories of people who have changed careers.

New Job, New You is a practical, inspirational resource for anyone looking to change careers. These real stories from real people are a call to pursue your passion. If you’ve been thinking about reinventing yourself in a bright new career, this book can help show you the way.

Note: I actually think this would be a great book to read in tandem with Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation [my review]. Read Levit’s book to figure out if change is right for you, and then read Cubicle Nation for tips on putting your plan into practice.

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