Break the Rules! 5 Books to Transform Your Work Life

Stanley left school at 16.

Moved to the big city. And got his first job.

He started at 9 am. Finished at 5 pm.

Everyday.

For the next 40 years. And then he retired.

Work. Commute. Sleep. Repeat.

Most people had the same experience. Whether it was an office, a factory or a public service.

But now, according to a report by PWC, 60% think "few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future."

Work has changed dramatically.

More people have already chosen to break out on their own as self-employed.

And I'm one of them!

My own journey has been a transformation from corporate employee to freelance professional.

Do you want to transform your work life?

Several key books awakened me to the world outside employment. So, I want to share them with you.

1. Be a Free Range Human (Marianne Cantwell)

I love to research books and their reviews online. But I discovered almost all the books on this list whilst browsing my local bookshop (thank you Mr. and Ms. Waterstones!)

I was looking for career ideas when I stumbled upon Be a Free Range Human.

And boy, did this book give me inspiration!

The wonderfully catchy title reflects the writing style of Marianne Cantwell.

Clear, honest and ballsy. But also supportive, informative and motivational.

The book guides you through the journey to dream, define and create the 'free range' you. Not just a free range career, but a free range life.

A sign of this book's power is its ability to talk you into the completion of the exercises in each chapter. A first for me!

The case studies are succinct summaries of people who've been there and done it. Each unique example highlights a key message from the book.

Anyone can become free range.

At just the right points Marianne Cantwell gives you a pep talk. Telling you that you can do it. But also being realistic about your fears and the steps to be taken.

Finally, the book expertly explains the practical steps to take that don't involve spending loads of money.

2. The Introvert Entrepreneur (Beth Buelow)

Yes, I'm an introvert (or innie!).

A few years ago I would not have put the words 'introvert' and 'entrepreneur' together.

But I realised from Beth Buelow's fantastic book how suited introverts are to entrepreneurship.

She highlights introvert qualities that are key strengths to build a business:

  • Self-effacing.
  • Self-reliant.
  • Self-possessed.
  • Self-reflective.

At the same time, she calls out an introvert's challenges.

Many introverts are concerned by sales and networking. These are outside their comfort zone.

However, Beth Buelow recognises these fears and doubts. She channels her professional coaching skills into the book for the benefit of introvert entrepreneurs.

Also, she talks through her own experiences and provides effective techniques for managing them.

What if you're not an introvert?

There's still much to take from this book if you're an extrovert. You can learn about the introvert view of the world and what they have to offer.

If you're an introvert wondering how to break out on your own, this is the book for you!

It will shine a spotlight on your strengths and coach you through your challenges.

3. Making a Living Without a Job (Barbara Winter)

Having read the first two books on the first, what else can you learn from the third?

Well, Making a Living Without a Job is a classic.

Barbara Winter's self-employment experience demonstrates the importance of your mindset. More so than the tools you use.

When she began her journey, there was no internet.

These origins make the book authentic, although it also covers the internet and social media.

But, Barbara Winter's words still blend motivation, substance, and realism.

Her chapter on 'World Headquarters' alone has great insight. The creation of your global nerve centre, even if it is just you at the kitchen table, puts the right frame of mind around your enterprise.

Also, a real bonus is the 'Winner's Bookshelf' which includes dozens of other helpful, informative and interesting reads.

Barbara Winter inspires and guides you on the journey to become 'joyfully jobless'. Her style is to aim for the top but with a practical approach to achieve it.

4. Building a Portfolio Career (Colin McCrudden, Adrian Bourne and Christopher Lyons)

I need a lunch break.

One that doesn't involve eating a sandwich at my desk browsing the BBC news website!

That was my thought one day in 2012.

So, I jumped on the tube and visited Foyles' bookshop in London's West End. Whilst browsing the careers section I came across Building a Portfolio Career.

What is a Portfolio Career?

I'd never heard of one.

Inspired by the philosophy of Charles Handy, the idea is that a portfolio has a variety of activities "some of which we do for money, some for interest, some for pleasure, some for a cause ... the different bits fit together to form a balanced whole."

The thought that you could shape your own career and life around different pursuits intrigued me.

It appealed to my independent streak.

But, I lacked the confidence to think I could do this. An interesting idea, but something that other people did.

However, the seed was planted. It became my dream.

Five years later, with some help from the other books on this list, I now have my own portfolio career!

As well as being a freelance writer, I volunteer for a local charity and support my partner's own business.

This book was where it all began. My journey to the life that I'm now living.

5. We Are All Weird (Seth Godin)

Who hasn't heard of Seth Godin?

Well, erm I hadn't until a few months ago!

His name popped up in many of the books on this list and well as lots of blogs. And I then discovered just how prolific he is!

A thinker, entrepreneur, and author, his ideas make you stop and take notice.

We Are All Weird explores the belief that society has become a group of self-defined tribes.

Seth Godin describes the shift away from 'normal' or 'mass'.

Companies, schools, and government previously defined limited choices for the masses. However, the internet, innovation, and social media have shrunk this.

People can now be true to themselves in their choices. What they buy, where they go and how they work.

They can focus on their tribe.

The old marketing approach was to target the mass, who fitted the expected norms of society. However, Seth Godin highlights how companies now have to adapt to cater to many tribes, rather than the mass.

The book gives a lot of food for thought on society and marketing. But, my lesson from it is that it's now easier to be true to yourself.

You don't have to conform to what other people expect you to do. In life or in work.

In Summary

Work was once easy to define and pigeon-hole. You had a job working for one boss and you got paid for it. But, work has now transformed.

You belong to different tribes in life and in work. The normal jobs and employees are vanishing. In their place are the introvert entrepreneurs, the free rangers, the joyfully jobless the portfolio professionals and others.

You can use these books to discover which tribe you belong to. You can be part of the transformation of work.

How do you want to transform your work life? Tell me about the changes in your work life.

Photo credit: Cody Davis on Unsplash.

About the Author - Rob Beadle

Rob Beadle is a copywriter for professionals. He writes clear and effective content to help businesses win clients.

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