Book Review: What Should I Do With My Life?
By Jeff Milone · February 28, 2008
What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question
by Po Bronson
Like many of us, the author (Po Bronson) sought to answer this question about his own life. And, like most of us, he had to approach it in his own way. He decided he would talk to people who had answered this “ultimate question” – nine hundred of them, to be exact. He talked to about seventy of them in detail, even lived with a few, and ultimately included fifty of their stories in his book.
Despite the reader’s understandable expectation of an answer to the book’s title question: What Should I Do With My Life? Bronson doesn’t offer any career-guides or self-help advice in this book. That’s important to understand. Any guidance or judgments are purely anecdotal. If you turn to this book looking for clear-cut answers, you will quickly learn that there are none. See this post for more about that.
That said, there is plenty of good medicine to be extracted from Bronson’s conclusions, such as the notion that change is feared because of the loss of identity associated with it. “Get used to being alone,” he tells one person, after discovering that most people fear being alone worse than they fear being stuck in a job they hate. This “barrier to change” pattern is seen over, and over again throughout the book.
Uncovering patterns and similarities in the respective journeys of Bronson’s interviewees, is what this book does best.
However, Bronson often mixes roles inappropriately. His quest for interviews quickly becomes its own short story, and develops into a whirlwind adventure that the reader never signed up for. Bronson also chronicles his own career and life changes, peppering them throughout the book. In doing so, he removes himself from the journalist role, and distracts the reader from the more substantive “meat” of the writing.
Even with those distracting injections of autobiographical content, the book is an easy read. Because it consists of a collection of short stories, and there is little or no linearity to the narrative, the book serves the casual reader quite well. Despite its flaws, What Should I Do With My Life remains an important book, and a worthwhile read for anyone asking themselves that same question.
Check it out: What Should I Do With My Life?