Book Review

I Don't Know What I Want, but I Know It's Not This: A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work

By Julie Jansen
Penguin USA
288 pages, $11.20

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In a new survey, over 90% of workers surveyed ranked "finding meaning" as the number one reason they recently had changed or would like to change careers. Meaning on the job comes when you find a gratifying career that fits you and lets you grow in your position. I Don't Know What I Want... is a great tool to help you discover that career or to kick start an unsatisfying one. It speaks to the present day problems that workers grapple with, and holds relevance for career seekers and employed professionals. Author Julie Jansen is currently on her fifth career as a speaker, consultant and career coach, and she is asking the right questions. Her primary message is that finding meaning in a career can only happen when you find the work that best suits you.


Jansen points out that technology has made it possible to work all the time from anywhere and many workers feel overwhelmed. But she quickly delves to the root of the overworked problem, writing "Burnout is not caused by too much work, but by working all day on projects that have no meaning to you personally." She identifies the following six types of unsatisfying work situations:

#1 Where's The Meaning? (People looking for a new reward and satisfaction)
#2 Been There, Done That, but Still Need to Earn (People who have and continue to be successful, but can't conceive of staying in their positions for 10 to 20 years)
#3 Bruised And Gun Shy (These individuals are victims of the changing workplace)
#4 Bored And Plateaued (They are looking for new challenges)
#5 Yearning To Be On Your Own (Those looking to break from the pack and start their own businesses)
#6 One Toe In The Retirement Pool (Workers approaching retirement age who may have a problem staying focused and motivated)


"Whether you merely want to tweak your work situation or change it dramatically, it is essential that you get to know the one person who will be indispensable to your quest for work that fits you." The book contains questions and exercises for self-assessment that are critical for helping people determine what fulfills and motivates them. Evaluating yourself means getting in touch with your values, attitudes, and interests. Do you prefer to socialize, read, or speak in front of audiences? A section on "Change Readiness" is valuable because when people understand their threshold of tolerance for change, it is easier to handle and make it happen.


Knowing your desires and goals has to be accompanied by taking action and each of the six situations has a parallel "Create An Action Plan" section with questions. The book has instructive stories about professionals who felt stuck in stifling situations who were able to turn their careers around and begin feeling like they were making a difference. The final chapter of the book is devoted to Job Searches with good tips on networking, interviewing, and follow up. I Don't Know What I Want... is a shot in the arm that will motivate you to change your situation and discover the gratifying career for you.

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