This week, The Simple Dollar is reviewing the latest iteration of the classic job hunting book What Color Is Your Parachute? It was named one of the Library of Congress’s 25 Books That Have Shaped Readers’ Lives more than a decade ago; is this updated version still as powerful today as it was then? This week, let’s find out.
When I sat down to read What Color Is Your Parachute? again to review it on this site, I opened the book and recalled reading it more than ten years ago when I was trying to decide what to do with my life. I was a country kid who had basically thought he was going to work in a factory most of his life until, out of the blue, a full scholarship was dropped on me almost unexpectedly. I didn’t have any idea of who I was or what I wanted to do.
What Color Is Your Parachute? revealed to me two essential truths about who I was and what I ought to be doing: that I was very strong with logical skills and that I should be a writer. I wound up going off and majoring in mathematics (at first) and I somewhat left the writing idea in the dust.
So, this past week, I went through all of those exercises again, and what did they reveal more than anything else? I should be a writer. Time and time again, this book pointed me in that natural direction, even though in some ways I’ve been fighting against that current for most of my life.
The success of this site has been the first real encouragement (outside of this book) I’ve ever had in my life towards being a writer. Whenever I’ve even hinted at the idea in the past, people have encouraged me not to do it, that it’s a poor man’s road unless you’re very lucky. Even my high school English teacher, who did more to shape my writing (and especially my quick drafting) skills than anyone else, discouraged me from following it as a career.
Somehow, again, I am at a crossroads, and again this book has pointed its finger in the direction of being a writer. Maybe I’ll finally follow that path.
So, do I recommend What Color Is Your Parachute? If you aren’t completely confident about your career and your goals in life, this book is an incredibly powerful read. It’s loaded with various exercises for teasing out what you should really be doing with your life. Even though some of them seem redundant, silly, or archaic, if you just dive into it for a while and really allow yourself to do some self-discovery, this book might be one of the most powerful things you’ll ever read in your life.
As for what it did for me in terms of making me consider a life of writing… stay tuned. I may have something big to announce soon.
What Color Is Your Parachute? is the eighteenth of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.