Book review: Career Renegade

In my opinion, there are only two kinds of jobs that are not clutter:

  1. A career that you love with a deep passion, surrounded by great colleagues who support and believe in a similar vision, and that is an integral part and reflection of who you are
  2. A job that has regular hours, no demands on your time beyond your scheduled work day, generates enough income for a comfortable lifestyle, great colleagues, and a positive corporate culture

The first type of career completely gels with who you are and provides you with significant happiness. Even though you may not like every aspect of your work, you find the reasons behind it invigorating and worth the effort. You have your dream job and reap the benefits of this match. In many ways, the line between work life and personal life are blurred with this type of career.

The second type of job is one that you can turn off when you leave the office. It allows you to take advantage of all of your free time and deeply explore happiness in the world beyond your job. Being surrounded by people you like is a key to this type of job because if you don’t like the people you work with, then a job like this will be loathsome.

If you’re in a job that doesn’t make you happy and is cluttering up your life, or have recently been downsized because of the rough economy, then I want to recommend you read Jonathan Fields’ new book Career Renegade. His book is filled with actual advice that gives you instructions for “how to make a great living doing what you love.”

Career Renegade is not a touchy-feely, discover-what-you-want-to-do type of book. The premise behind the text is that you are eager to have a career you love and want to know exactly how to make it a reality.

The majority of his advice is targeted toward carving out niche careers in markets that are already established. However, I really enjoyed his insight relating to careers in markets that don’t yet exist:

Real innovators usually have:

  • A deep passion for the content, beyond the desire to make money.
  • A clear picture of the gap in the market of the problem in need of a solution.
  • A nearly unshakable commitment to solving a problem or doing something better than it’s been done before.
  • A willingness to take risks and make decisions based on the best information available relatively quickly, even if it’s not all of the information that might be accessible over a longer period of time. Entrepreneurs refer to this as the ready-fire-aim mind-set.
  • An ability to visualize a solution that does not exist or at least to see the possibility of the solution.

The people who have manifested these qualities and succeeded in creating solutions, businesses, products, or services that simply did not exist before are the ones you need to seek out.

If you’re ready to have a career you love, then Career Renegade is the book for you.

18 Comments for “Book review: Career Renegade”

  1. posted by Tobias on

    Who takes out the garbage, cleans the toilets, prepares & serves the food, & cleans up the vomit in your dreamworld, Erin?

    Try not to lose sight of the fact that there are a million mundane jobs that need to be done for every one who manages to find their ideal career path.

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Tobias — I know a couple of building engineers who love their work, and they take out garbage, clean toilets, and mop up vomit. Just because YOU don’t want to do those things, doesn’t mean no one else does. Both of the building engineers I know would say that they fall into category #2 that I mentioned. They clock in, clock out, and enjoy themselves while they’re at work and when they’re at home.

    Additionally, I have the job #1 I described above, and there are numerous things that I don’t enjoy about my work. As I said in the text of this post: “Even though you may not like every aspect of your work, you find the reasons behind it invigorating and worth the effort.”

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Tobias — Assuming that work is drudgery is also an awful attitude to posses. I know many, many people who work on the assembly lines at Frito Lay, Goodyear Tire, and Hill’s Pet Products. Most of them have worked at these plants for decades, and all of them believe strongly in their work. They support the mission of the company, enjoy the companionship of their co-workers, and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. They make good livings and enjoy their free time when they’re not at work. Their jobs are not clutter.

    Now, if they hated the people they worked with and felt that what they were doing was corrupt, THEN their jobs would be clutter.

  4. posted by lgypsy packer on

    Most people have little or no choice about what we do for a living. We live in small towns or rural areas, and aren’t pretty people with advanced degrees or prom-queen popularity.

    It is necessary to find our own meaning for our own jobs, to investigate how each job makes the world a better place, and to search our consciences if the job does not.

    And yes, I do the jobs Tobin describes. Most women do, even if not in the paid workforce. Most of us are overqualified for that work, but everyone else weasels out of it. Check out the Langley article on AlterNet concerning one variety of this type of work, then decide if the world can do without the dirty workers.

  5. posted by Jeannine on

    Thank you for this post, Erin. I am a new professional that may not be in love with my current job and am not sure what “career” track I’d like to get into.

    However, I’m working on focusing on the positive in my current job (I’m aware that NO JOB will ever be perfect) and am choosing to believe that I can find a job that I truly love.

    It’s about being happy with what you have, but not settling for something that is less than you expect for your life. I choose to believe that the best career possible awaits for me, and all I have to do is actively seek it out!

  6. posted by Tobias on

    Thank you, lgypsy packer. I think Erin missed the point, though in retrospect I could have been more clear.

    There’s a difference between finding contentment in working a monotonous job or fulfillment in your chosen work (be it assembly line or full-time mom) and working a series of lousy/tedious/undesirable jobs because that’s all that’s available & you have bills hanging over you.

    I love my kids and willing change their diapers, and I’d probably be just as willing to do it for my parents if it one day comes to that, but that doesn’t mean I want a job in the sick ward wiping bottoms & cleaning up messes all day. But if I got laid-off tomorrow and that were all that was available to me, you be I’d do it to support my family. And I’d be thankful for it. But I wouldn’t love it.

    Most of the daily comforts & conveniences we take for granted rely on someone else who gets paid significantly less than us doing some dirty work that we wouldn’t want to do ourselves.

  7. posted by Darci on

    Erin – This post could not have come at a better time! I’m contemplating starting a business that I’m excited and passionate about. I’ve now got a good book on reserve at the library to give me just the push I need to help make my dreams come true. Thank you!

  8. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Igypsy packer — Whoa. I STRONGLY disagree with your first paragraph.

    I grew up in a small town in Kansas, my high school class had something like a 55% graduation rate, I wasn’t a prom-queen, or popular, whose divorced parents didn’t pay for her to go to college. Saying that living in small-town USA eats away at your freedoms is nonsense.

    If you can’t tell, I feel very passionate about this issue. Read my interview on Someday Syndrome to get a more complete picture of where my strong beliefs on this issue come from:

  9. posted by a on

    Thanks for a great post. I will be checking out the book. I know what I *want* to do–and it seems to involve finding/creating a new niche. Hoping the book will provide some clues to a productive path. AND…I am thrilled to be in a Job type #2 right now. It’s the people that make all the difference! At my previous position, I was surrounded by the most miserable, negative people I have ever met in my life–so, even though the job itself would have been fine–it became sheer torture. NOW I am surrounded by smart, joyful, playful, intensely hardworking comrades who show respect to all and keep me entertained while I work my butt off. Ah… life is good!

  10. posted by Long day. Relaxing night. « The Balanced Grad on

    […] saw this quote about “two kinds of jobs” tonight and it really resonated with me: In my opinion, there […]

  11. posted by Quatrefoil on

    I really agree with this post. It clarified an issue I have been thinking about for a while. I have been working for the past three or four years in a job which is definitely ‘clutter’ – it’s well-paid, the work is fine and doesn’t disagree with my principles, and I like most of the people I work with, but it’s long hours and stressful, and it is very effectively stopping me from doing the things I’m passionate about. I’ve decided that I’ll be looking for a type 2 job – shorter hours, less stress and almost certainly less money so that I can spend the rest of my time working towards the type 1 job that I’d really like.

    I think that Tobias and Igypsypacker have missed the point about the type 2 jobs. These jobs can be menial and include the jobs that other people may not want, but they can nonetheless be a valuable job to have, if they provide honest work and put a roof over your head and food on the table. I’ve stacked shelves, waitressed and cleaned toilets for a living before and I’ll do it again if necessary – despite the fact that I’ve worked as a senior manager and have a PhD.

    I would agree that if you choose to live in a small town there may well be fewer opportunities than in a big city, but there are usually a number of type 2 jobs available. The point is that it’s a choice. I’m choosing to live more frugally and will probably move back to a rural area so I can work towards my dreams. I may not achieve them, but I’ll have reduced stress and lived a more authentic life along the way.

  12. posted by Peaches on

    I have to say that I loved this post. See, I work in a field where most everyone here is a “Type 1” – I work at a community newspaper, and most people are here because they believe in the cause of journalism, they love to write, etc. I’m not that. This was the job I happened into during school, and I’ve been promoted to the point of financial comfort and have never left.

    But this isn’t my life. It’s not what fulfills me or makes me want to get up in the morning. But it takes up so much of my time and energy, and I’m never “off,” so I don’t have the time or the energy to pursue the things I really do love – my home, my family, scrapbooking, reading, etc.

    I keep telling my husband that I want to be a grocery cashier. He doesn’t understand. How could that be fulfilling? Easy. You can do it “right,” heck, be the best cashier there is, and then go home at the end of the day, and have your whole evening for yourself and your family. Work isn’t (and probably will never be) what fulfills me.

    And that’s OK. I’m learning that, and I’m happy about your post because I think you’re helping others learn it’s OK to want a life beyond work.

  13. posted by Jeannine on

    Peaches, it makes me feel a bit relieved to read your post!! I have a Master’s Degree but feel exactly the same as you — that work will never be what really fulfills me. Other things, like family, God, nature, friends fulfill me. I think that today’s society and culture often equates a human’s value with their occupation.

    But that’s not me. I’m a whole person on my own. I just happen to have to work because I wasn’t born into royalty (unfortunately!). And I have a good job that earns a good salary, but I know that it isn’t my “vocare” (or vocation, calling). I’m young, so I’ll keep looking and hope I find one, but if I don’t, I know that I’ll still be a whole person on my own terms.

  14. posted by Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome on

    I think what Quatrefoil says is very important. It’s all about choice.

    If we choose to live in a small town with limited work options, then our choice of job is limited. That being said, there are so many opportunities to find type #1 jobs through the Internet that it doesn’t matter where you are.

    That being said, I do believe that there is a tendency to ignore the jobs that support most of us, especially in books like The Four Hour Work Week – can you imagine if the people at a chicken processing plant decided they only wanted to work four hours? Not possible. Same with plumbers, firefighters, store owners, and a whole multitude of people.

    But as long as we make choices based on knowing what we want out of life the remaining choices aren’t difficult to make because they support that dream. If however that first choice is made out of obligation or without any thought at all, then the rest of the choices can seem hard and menial.

    What a great conversation happening here!

  15. posted by Nicole on

    Then there are those of us who wouldn’t consider our work ‘clutter’, but definitely don’t fit in either of your two little groups. I am self-employed and have been my entire life. My hours are often time and a half or double the average 40 hour week, I don’t have a desire to surround myself with ‘colleagues who support and believe in a similar vision’, often have varying income and stability, etc…

    Overall, the kind of work I do includes many many other things that people who would love jobs #1 and #2 would find unpleasant. However, many of us self-employed / entrepreneurs / business owners / etc.. wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Then again, these kind of books are written to help people find satisfaction living in the system, not to encourage being independent.

  16. posted by Moxie on

    The books sounds interesting. As someone who is fairly new to the “working world”, it makes me sad to think that my job would be considered clutter by the above definition. Sometimes, it leans toward #1, but I will catch myself periodically day dreaming about when I used to work at hourly jobs where I could go home and not have to think about my work until the next shift, which had a precise beginning and ending time. Sigh.

  17. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Nicole — You fall into category #1. Your colleagues are your clients. In fact, all of Jonathan’s book is dedicated to doing exactly what you do.

  18. posted by Rise v4 » Links for Jan 28 on

    […] while inviting Avent into its stores to promote their wares?Tags: breastfeeding, corporate ethicsUnclutterer » Archive » Book review: Career Renegadethere are only two kinds of jobs that are not clutter: 1. A career that you love with a deep […]

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