Do you want to break free and pursue new career ambitions? Then take a look at my 12-Step Guide to Career Change in 2013, which appears in today’s Guardian newspaper.
So you’ve drawn up your list of New Year’s resolutions. Some are probably achievable, like giving up eating chocolate for breakfast. Others may be more daunting because they represent a long-held desire to take your life in a new direction, anything from changing career to renewing family relationships. If you’ve resolved to make a big change, I suggest having a companion by your side who’ll give you encouragement and inspiration. An ideal choice is the eighteenth-century German writer and natural scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In his book Italian Journey, Goethe describes an episode from his own life that offers three essential lessons for making 2013 a year of New Year’s adventuring. Continue reading
Here is the video of a talk I gave on my latest book, How to Find Fulfilling Work, at the Union Chapel in London in May. Filmed live in front of nearly 1000 people, it was part of the launch of The School of Life’s practical philosophy book series, edited by Alain de Botton and published by Macmillan. In 15 minutes I offer five essential ideas for career change, drawing on career advice from Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle and a woman who gave herself the unusual 30th birthday present of trying out 30 different jobs in one year – a radical sabbatical.
There were five other talks on the night, each of them full of wise, witty and useful ideas for the art of living:
Alain de Botton on How to Think More About Sex
Philippa Perry on How to Stay Sane
John-Paul Flintoff on How to Change the World
Tom Chatfield on How to Thrive in the Digital Age
John Armstrong on How to Worry Less about Money
My book How to Find Fulfilling Work is also available in several translations, including Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese and German. This weekend I’ll be launching the Dutch edition at the LIFE! philosophy event in Amsterdam.
And for anybody who missed it, I recently had a new article on The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People published by the good folk at the Greater Good Science Center, at the University of California.
Happy viewing, reading and living…
I was recently interviewed by philosopher Jules Evans, author of the bestselling Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations, as part of his project on the rise of the practical philosophy movement. The interview originally appeared on his website. Here it is in full.
Roman Krznaric is the author of two popular books that came out this year – The Wonderbox: Curious histories of how to live and How to Find Fulfilling Work – and is also one of the founding faculty members of The School of Life, which teaches the art of living to its clientele. He talked to me about his work in the past with Theodore Zeldin, how The School of Life came to be, and how the practical philosophy movement can do more than offer lifestyle tips, and might even help to tackle the great problems of the age.
Would you say there is such a thing as a ‘practical philosophy movement’?
Yes, though it’s a very broad movement. What’s happened is that over the last 20 years there’s been a revolutionary rise of interest in the question of how to live. And that question has taken a practical focus in many ways, through philosophy clubs and organisations like the School of Life and Oxford Muse. Continue reading
The following article originally appeared in The Guardian.
Job hunting is like dating; just because a job ticks all the boxes, doesn’t mean it’s the only one for you. You need to experiment with a range of careers to find your prince charming.
How’s work going? If people answered that question honestly, around three in five of them would say not so well, actually. But so many of those people looking for career change are unsure how to go about it.
Laura van Bouchout was one of them. In her late twenties, she had already had five jobs – most of which involved organising cultural events. She was utterly bored and in search of something more fulfilling so she decided to conduct an experiment. For her thirtieth birthday present to herself she spent a whole year trying thirty different jobs by shadowing and volunteering – a kind of ‘radical sabbatical’. Among other things, she managed a cat hotel, then spent a week following an MEP, and found that working in advertising was unexpectedly exhilarating.
Read the rest of the article here
We should all be worried about the £20 note, which features the eighteenth-century economist Adam Smith staring fixedly at workers toiling in a pin factory. Smith argued that this factory would produce far more pins if workers specialised in just one or two tasks – such as straightening the wire or sticking on the head – rather than doing all the stages of pin-making themselves. The result was his most famous invention: the division of labour. Continue reading
In this interview with bestselling novelist Fiona Robyn featured on her blog Writing Our Way Home, I discuss my approach to the process of creative writing and thinking, and suggest why creativity is not about originality, and how musician Brian Eno can help us think more adventurously.
Fiona Robyn: What drives your creative work?
Roman Krznaric: A disastrous cultural inheritance from the Renaissance is the idea that creativity is about originality. We have in our minds the image of geniuses like Michelangelo, who was worshipped for his stunning originality, which seemed to be a divine gift from above. But I think that is off-putting for most of us, and makes us feel that if we aren’t being brilliant and original then we are lacking a creative streak. Continue reading
My new book How to Find Fulfilling Work is out today.
About the book
Part of a new series of guides to everyday living from The School of Life (edited by Alain de Botton), How to Find Fulfilling Work aims to help people navigate the labyrinth of career choices out there and to find a job that is big enough for their spirits. It busts plenty of myths along the way, such as the idea that you can trust personality tests to guide you to the right job, and offers wisdom from philosophy, psychology, history and literature. There are plenty of unusual solutions to our career dilemmas too, including taking a radical sabbatical and aspiring to be a wide achiever rather than a high achiever, as well as timely career advice from Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie and even Zorba the Greek. And you will meet a woman whose 30th birthday present to herself was to try 30 different jobs in one year.
The School of Life series is being launched with events around the UK and beyond.
Other authors in the series include Alain de Botton, Philippa Perry, John-Paul Flintoff, Tom Chatfield and John Armstrong.
Best wishes and happy reading! Roman
Extract from the opening of Chapter 1: The Age of Fulfilment
Rob Archer grew up on a housing estate in Liverpool where there was 50 per cent unemployment and the main industry was heroin. He fought his way out, studying hard and getting to university, and found a great job as a management consultant in London. He was earning plenty of money, he had interesting clients and his family was proud of him. ‘I should have been very happy, but I was utterly miserable,’ he recalls. ‘I remember being put on assignments in which I had no background but was presented as an expert. I was supposed to know about knowledge management and IT, but it all left me cold, and I always felt like an outsider.’ He did his best to ignore his feelings:
I assumed I should be grateful to just have a job, let alone a ‘good’ one. So I focused harder on trying to fit in and when that didn’t work, I lived for the weekend. I did this for ten years, burning the candle at both ends. Eventually it caught up with me. I became chronically stressed and anxious. Then one day I had to ask the CEO’s personal assistant to call me an ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack. It turned out to be a panic attack. That’s when I knew I couldn’t go on. The problem was that all the alternatives – changing career, starting over again – seemed impossible. How could I trade in the security of my comfortable life for uncertainty? Wouldn’t I be risking all the progress I had made? I also felt guilt that I should even be searching for such luxuries as ‘meaning’ and ‘fulfilment’. Would my grandfather have complained at such fortune? Life appeared to offer an awful choice: money or meaning.
You can read the rest of Chapter 1 here.
The following article originally appeared in The Guardian.
The great tragedy of modern parenting is that we’ve forgotten its history – and mothers are paying the price. Contrary to popular belief, the superdad who takes on a serious share of childcare and housework is not a new invention. Before the industrial revolution – a mere couple of hundred years ago – most men were stay-at-home fathers, skilled at comforting wailing babes and bathing squirming toddlers. I didn’t know this four years ago when my partner, Kate, became pregnant with twins. I had never wanted to have children, worrying that it would scupper my hopes of becoming a writer, so I panicked. How was I going to embrace the seismic shock of double-dose fatherhood? Continue reading
Browse the self-help shelves of your local book store and you’ll spot that most titles draw on psychology, philosophy and religion for their wisdom. But there is one realm where few of them have sought inspiration: history.
When asking the big questions about life, love, work and death, we sometimes forget that people have been grappling with these issues for centuries – and that means we’re missing out. As Goethe put it, ‘he who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth’.
So how can characters from history help lead our lives in new directions in 2012? Here’s my personal selection of five icons from the past who offer good ideas for better living.
1.Matsuo Basho: make an alternative pilgrimage
The seventeenth-century Japanese poet Basho was a compulsive wanderer who reinvented the art of travel. On one of his pilgrimages, lasting over two years, he naturally visited the holiest Buddhist shrines. But his originality was also to make pilgrimages to non-religious sites that held deep personal meaning for him, such as seeking out the willow trees described by his favourite poets. Continue reading