Monday, April 27, 2009

Printed Matters

All my life I’ve found the answers to things in books.

So. Now that it’s time to reinvent what I do for a living, it seems only natural to turn to my old pals and get a little career guidance. Sure, the Net’s a great resource. But there’s nothing like holing up in bed on a rainy night like this one and actually poring over some self-help manuals.

Here’s a few gleanings:

Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck. Subtitle: “claiming the life you were meant to live.” Not a bad book; well-written, humorous. Chock full of exercises, questionnaires to fill out, sentences to finish. Such as: “What are you afraid of? Does your fear tell you to do anything specific? If so, what?” And then there are two blank lines where you can write down your response. You get the picture.

The Pathfinder, by Nicholas Lore. An entertaining tome that is, in essence, an update of the old What Color Is Your Parachute paperback you probably perused in your early post-youth. Here the basic gambit is to hone in on what matters to you (I like the section entitled “What does ‘doing meaningful work’ mean to you?”) and then to translate those values into jobs you’ll feel an affinity for. I’d recommend this book to you if you really have no idea at what interests you enough to devote 8+ hours a day to it.

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett. Don’t get excited. If this subject interests you at all, you’ve already come across these “secrets” elsewhere or you sussed them out yourself: you know, configure your blog for SEO, find a gap in the supply and demand cycle to exploit, interlink between posts, etc. Still, it’s handy to find all these useful tips in one slim volume.

The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferris. Even if you’re not about to undertake most of the things Mr. Ferris recommends, this is still a fun and occasionally bracing read. Part of the Ferris ethic is that you need to strip your life of all the stuff that takes time but isn’t productive. “Simplicity requires ruthlessness,” the author says. Think of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People transliterated for the Twitter generation.

Career Renegade, by Jonathan Fields. My fave. The author recommends plunging head first in the churning white waters of entrepreneurship, utilizing technology and sheer wit to blaze a trail in a way that only you can.

The first two books will appeal to those looking to translate their native dispositions into the likeliest livelihood that comes with a standard job description: butcher baker candlestick maker. The next three urge you to invent your own job description, and each title assumes you are temperamentally suited to viewing life as a continual escapade.

But enough about me. Have you come across books that helped you get your head around the whole Right Livelihood issue? If so, please spill. You know I’m a compulsive reader; suggest a book and I’ll probably head right over to Powell’s and buy it. Tomorrow.


Steve Patterson said...

"Instructions to the Cook" by Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields is a fun read about a businessman who reorganizes his life around Zen principles.


Steve Patterson said...


Online application form opens — Monday, April 27, 2009
Application Deadline — Monday, June 8, 2009

The Creative Capital Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program supports individual writers whose work addresses contemporary visual art through grants ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 USD.

Writers who meet the program’s eligibility requirements are invited to apply in the following categories:




new and alternative media

short-form writing

We regret that due to legal constraints we can only fund U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and holders of O-1 visas. For guidelines and additional eligibility requirements, please visit


The Arts Writers Grant Program is pleased to announce a new writing workshop offered in partnership with the International Association of Art Critics/USA Chapter. For more information, please visit

Mead said...

Hey, thanks, Steve -- I'll definitely look into it!

Ya Just Never Know said...

(June 1, 2009)

The only reason I post this here, versus elsewhere, is the caption "right livelihood" which you used here.

I saw this. Thought of some of your posts. Hope the whole URL comes through: