When I was trying to figure out what career to pursue after my military service, I dove headfirst into the world of “finding my passion.” After spending almost five years in a career field (army intelligence) that had literally nothing to do with my college degree (television and film production), I wanted to make sure my next career lined up with my future intentions, interests, and, hopefully, passions—of which I have many!
I think I read, listened, and watched at least a year’s worth of material, which involved a real mental struggle and plenty of “soul searching.” I even considered going back to college but realized that wasn’t right path for me (and not simply because I didn’t want to be responsible for student loans, though that was a big factor).
There’s no question that it takes time and effort to find your passion, purpose, career path—whatever you want to call it—but it doesn’t have to cost you an arm or a leg (or a new degree).
Reading was my preferred method of exploring potential career paths. Fortunately, there are a staggering amount of career advice books and articles available (thank you internet), so you could say I had my work cut out for me. And thanks to the library, I could pick up almost any title for free.
Here are my top picks:
1. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, Kelly Tieger
Skeptics of the MBTI personality theory might have their minds changed with this book. I read this after working several jobs (where I was extremely unhappy in every role) and realized the outlined scenarios for my personality aligned almost perfectly with what happened in my career.
2. The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore
For those who love taking quizzes aimed to help you reveal inner truths about yourself, this book has over 100.
3. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
Skeptical about even trying to “follow your passion?” The author of this gem argues that gaining expertise in any profession is the key to a passionate, purposeful life.
4. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard Bolles III
And for the traditionalists, this book has been a cornerstone of career counselors for decades and can lead you to discover the best career for you.
5. How to Find Fulfilling Work (The School of Life) by Roman Krznaric
Geared toward mid-career path changers in particular, Krznaric offers real-life examples and practical advice for thriving.
If you’re longing to connect your passion (or figure out what exactly it is and how it works) with the needs of the world, pick up this read.
7. Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One by Jenny Blake
Figure out how to leverage your current expertise and training into an area you’re more interested in (without having to start from scratch) is called pivoting, and Blake breaks down just how to do this in bite-sized steps.
8. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Maybe you’ve an inkling what you’d like next in life, but aren’t sure how to motivate and get yourself to that next step. This one outlines why grit is the answer.
9. 4 Moves to Make if You Still Have No Idea What You Want to Be When You Grow Up by Leslie Moser on The Daily Muse
In this article, Moser outlines actions you can take today to help figure out what to work toward tomorrow.
10. Happy, Smart, Useful and How To Do What You Love and Make Good Money by Derek Sivers on Silvers.Org
After all the heavy reading, quiz-taking, and mental angst I went through, this post was a breath of fresh air to me. Simple and to the point, it helped me narrow down my list of potential future careers.
11. 7 Lessons About Finding the Work You Were Meant To DoFrom TED Talks
Find your calling, or fight for it? Dozens of personal interviews go into these seven best lessons.
12. A 30-Something’s Guide to Finding Purpose (Without Quitting Your Job) by Dorianne St Fleur on The Daily Muse
Finding your purpose isn’t about suddenly waking up one day, realizing you hate your job, and then promptly changing careers. It takes a little more than that.
By: Nina Semczuk
Article originally published on The Muse