How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric

Krznaric, Roman. (2012). How to Find Fulfilling Work. Picador; New York.

Despite its discrete size and colour, this book packs quite a punch. It’s part of The School of Life book series – described as a “cultural enterprise offering good ideas for everyday life” (The School of Life, 2014). Consequently, How to Find Fulfilling Work focuses on the little ideas that make up the big components of our lives; and its concise, 188 page count offers up a single concept supported by plentiful examples and pointed quotes.

If you’re not interested in sitting down to read this little book, but still want to benefit from its message, Roman has done a podcast with the Smart People Podcast crew (see: Episode 90). He also talks about the book’s message on this Vimeo video. However, I would strongly encourage you to actually go through the book and respond to the questions that Roman proposes in each chapter. These questions are meant to get you thinking about your own situation, and are actually very effective frames for approaching your work life.

Cover design copyright of The School of Life, 2012.

In the book, Roman defines for us the three essential ingredients of a fulfilling career: meaning, flow, and freedom. He contests personality testing as a method for finding ‘the perfect job’ – in fact, he suggests that no one should be sitting around just thinking about what they want in an ideal career. I agreed with him wholeheartedly, as I’ve been to see career counselors and thought extensively about my work options, yet have taken no action to test drive various career and work experiences. Recognizing this as a common issue, Roman’s chapter entitled “Act First, Reflect Later” provides guidance and support for self-discovery in the job market.

I particularly valued the mapping and writing exercises that Roman provides towards the end of the book. His aim is to get you thinking about a ‘radical sabbatical’ – essentially taking time to participate in an entirely new kind of career or place of work. I had a similar thought which I wrote about in my post, “Redefining the Gap Year“, but unfortunately (and predictably) never followed through on this interest.

Roman’s book thus provides guidance, inspiration, and validation for people wanting to try out a new career.  Since it’s quite easy to burn out in a career you’re not enjoying and in which money and status are your only rewards, this book is essential reading for everyone currently starting out and involved in the world of work.

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