This is a book review of the book, ‘My Life My Rules: Stories of 18 Unconventional Careers’ by Sonia Golani.
An unconventional career is one that is not being chosen by people around us. It is the one that everyone advises us against taking up. And not without good reason, as the chances for success in such careers is startlingly less. Forget the chances of success, many such careers do not even monetize!
What inspires people to quit well paying jobs/careers and start a venture on their own (or) take up a job in a company/sector that is rarely opted for, is the subject that is dealt with in the book, ‘My Life My Rules: Stories of 18 Unconventional Careers’.
So, what is the biggest factor that drives people to take up unconventional careers? Passion is one. Satisfaction is another. Frustration with rigid/large organizations maybe another.
Surprisingly the people interviewed in this book rate providence too, as an important factor. Many people who went with unconventional career choices never planned to do such a thing initially. They just went with the flow and important decisions/enabling factors happened by sheer chance.
Can there be sufficient security in life, even if one chooses a ‘secure’ career option? Why would people trade economic security for following their passions? What drives people to do what they do?
These are deeper questions that no book can answer. Even people who are successful with their unconventional careers may not be able to answer them convincingly.
The author of this book has done a good job probing the reasons/circumstances which made people choose what they are currently doing. But these short interviews do not reveal much insight on how they did it.
Also, some people interviewed in the book have shared a lot of information about their business and life. But a few were not open enough. Interviewers can only get as much information as the interviewee shares.
The people involved in running the businesses have the eagle’s eye view on the whole process and they mature with time. That’s called experience. I guess this experience can never be ‘revealed’ to others in a wholesome manner.
But what readers can gain by reading such books is, get an idea of what people around them are doing differently and analyze how they can apply their skills to their unique circumstances. People can also get some inspiration and have a positive attitude about what they are doing, if at all they choose an unconventional career. But nothing can replace experience.
Can an unconventional career make people happier? The answer to that question depends on what people are ready to sacrifice for happiness/satisfaction. Are they ready to sacrifice higher income and social status that come with it (at least initially)? This book doesn’t really focus on the negative sides of choosing unconventional careers and I found that, a limiting factor.
It is my personal opinion that irrespective of a career being conventional or unconventional, as long as it enables people to learn and leads to overall personal growth, people should stick to it, whatever be the income/returns. Because, money will eventually find people/companies whose contribution is significant to the society.
Over to the commenters: Would you take up an unconventional career?