What Color Is Your Parachute?: When The Unexpected Happens – How To Deal With Change

What Color is Your Parachute?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.

The second section of What Color Is Your Parachute? is substantially more interesting than the first. It’s broken down into three chapters, each one dealing with a major life change that you will likely face at some point in your life.

Chapter 8: How To Pick A New Place To Live
I thought this was a very interesting chapter to include in a job on careers, especially given that this chapter basically states that the best reason for moving is not for a job, but to find a place that’s safe and potentially surrounded by familiar things and people.

Particularly powerful (for me) is that the chapter gave significant attention and weight to the idea of “going rural,” meaning that you’re moving to the country to escape the rat race of the city. This would fly completely in the face of a typical career guide, but it goes to show why this one is more worthwhile than most: it looks at a whole life approach of determining where you should go.

Chapter 9: How To Choose A New Career
This chapter is very compressed, but the information that is there is tight. It also had one of my favorite exercises in the whole book, which I’ll repeat here:

Take a large piece of white paper, with some colored pencils or pens, and draw a picture of your ideal life: where you live, who’s with you, what you do, what your dwelling looks like, what your ideal vacation looks like, etc. Don’t let reality get in the way. Pretend a magic wand has been waved over your life and it gives you everything you think your ideal life would be.
Now, of course you can’t draw. Okay, then make symbols for things, or create little “doodads” or symbols, with labels – anything so that you can see all together on one page, your vision of your ideal life – however haltingly expressed.

Try it – it can be quite powerful and enlightening. I first tried it, intending to spend about ten minutes on it, but I found myself doodling for hours and adding details over days. It made me really figure out what I wanted to be doing with my life – and incidentally, it was writing.

Chapter 10: How To Start Your Own Business
This book is not a guide on how to start a small business; if you’re hoping for that, look elsewhere. Basically, this chapter is about self-employment – and it’s not motivational, either. Much of it deals with reasons why you shouldn’t take the leap, in order to convince people that self-employment is fraught with risks. If you want a cheerleading session on being an entrepreneur, look elsewhere. On the other hand, it does have some very realistic and useful advice for leveraging your risk if you do take the leap into self-employment.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the final third of the book, which was by far the most interesting (to me, at least).

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.

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