Summer reading, part 2: creating pathways to new work

Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul, Minn. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice.com or at 626 Armstrong Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.

In last week’s column, I reviewed books to help you weather a difficult job. This week, we continue the summer reading festival with a spotlight on books that can help you move forward, possibly in a new career altogether.

"Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success" by G. Richard Shell (Portfolio, 2013, $26.95). As the author succinctly notes in his introduction, what sets this book apart from other career and business titles is that he has no system for achieving success. Instead he offers a series of questions, exercises and anecdotes sandwiched around more literary references than an English major could shake a stick at.

Shell, who is a legal studies and ethics scholar at the Wharton School, shows an appreciation for the balance between deep thinking and measurable action. If you’d like to plumb the depths of your career crisis before moving forward, this book can be your guide.

"Peace in the Puzzle: Becoming Your Intended Self" by Susan Myhre Hayes (MyhreHayes Group, 2011, $20). One of the pleasurable outcomes of my own path has been the opportunity to meet or work with others as they transform their lives or careers. This author participated in classes I used to teach at a writing school, and took the time to send me the book she completed about the year of transformation she later undertook. I'm glad she did; her take on the process adds to the uniquely American archive of books on self-discovery and realization.

Although one could imagine a younger reader making good use of Hayes’ insights and exercises, they seem custom-made for those at 50 and beyond who want to integrate past dreams and losses into a meaningful future.

Not exactly a business or career book, this title would nonetheless make a good read for those of a certain age who want to get unstuck in their lives.

"Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want" by Rich Horwath (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2012, $19.95). Using bridges as an extended metaphor, Horwath carefully dissects then rebuilds that core piece of business planning — strategy — and applies it to personal development.

As CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, you’d expect Horwath to know a few things about strategy. He starts the ball rolling with this definition: “Strategy is a plan for using your resources — time, talent, money — to achieve your goals.” As he notes, each part of that definition provides a clue to building the bridge to the life one wants. “Plan” implies forethought, “resources” describes the use of the tools we’ve been given, and “goals” directs us to identify the end point we’re building the bridge to reach.

In this carefully crafted book, Horwath provides five steps and plenty of examples to help the reader develop his or her own strategic life plan. If you are a practical person who likes clear process, this could be a good tool for you.

"The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success" by Nicholas Lore (Simon & Schuster, 2011, $16.99). For those who want to step away from metaphors and personal development to focus on simply finding a career, this book will be a good value. Actually, the process described here is not simple so much as it is focused. Lore, the founder of the Rockport Career Institute in Maryland, has had three decades to hone the basic steps in his process while adding layers of illustrations, examples and personal inquiry exercises.

Although most readers will be tempted to skip around in this somewhat lengthy volume, Lore would probably counsel an immersion experience to help embed the principles while conducting the career exploration steps. As he notes early in the book, the process can take months or longer, depending on the person. With that in mind, the sooner you start, the sooner you can identify and launch your new career.