Five refreshing reads for career changers

My name is Jo and I can’t stop buying books! I have a sizable pile on my desk (here's a photo for you!). It includes a heap of dog-eared, post-it noted favourites and an equal number of pristine future treats. Then there’s a long list of enticing others that my insatiably bookish self is nudging me to buy.  As I write this, extreme self-control is the only thing holding me back from placing my next online order.

So now my guilty secret is out, I’ve decided to do practical penance. To atone for my book-buying obsession, I’ll review my stack here and on social media.

Perhaps you’ll be able to add some inspirational career change classics to your own book pile?

My first five picks span over three decade’s worth of practical, inspirational writing on how to manage career and other change with skill, self-awareness and grit.

 'Do More Great Work' by Michael Bungay Staier


Subtitled‘Stop the Busywork. Start the Work That Matters’ this book asks us to question the way we define ‘bad’, ‘good’ and ‘great’ work. As Staier points out we spend our careers doing a combination of all three types. This reality check on the mixed nature of work is something we tend to forget when we cast an envious eye over others’ apparently more fulfilling jobs. Staier makes the excellent point that we hardly ever consciously plan to do ‘great’ work. He sets out to change that by helping us rethink the way we define and measure it.

“When I say ‘Great Work,’ I’m not talking about a standard of delivery.
I’m talking about a standard of impact and meaning.”

‘Do More Great Work’ has a series of exercises designed to help you ‘map’ your own great work projects. These exercises can guide you towards what great work means to you by showing you when you are performing at your most satisfying best. They can also kick start you to put the ‘do’ into Do More Great Work’

Why I love this book

It’s high on realism and long on practicality.


'The Escape Manifesto ' by Escape the City


Escape the City is the brainchild of three Brits, Rob, Dom and Mikey. In 2009 they quit their stifling corporate roles to start an online jobs board for like-minded people who ‘realised that they didn’t want their bosses jobs or their bosses jobs’. Eight years on Escape the City is a global career and business venture program with 250,000 members in 100 cities.

The Escape Manifesto taps into the energy and gutsiness this global movement inspires. This book is brim full of break out stories and as one reviewer aptly notes, it’s,

“a potent reminder of the power of initiative over procrastination.”

Why I love this book

The Escape Manifesto won’t give you step-by-step advice on how to take a bold leap in the unknown. However, it provides ample evidence that if and when you do, ‘the net’ will very likely appear.


'Do the Work' by Steven Pressfield


This punchy, no nonsense book is all about getting out of your own way. Pressfield wants you stare down the enemy within. This is the sticky, fear mongering resistance that stops us in our tracks at multiple pivot points between starting and finishing important work of any kind.

Here is a blow-by-blow boot camping guide to getting your projects from concept to completion. Pressfield has a knack for nailing some of our most common ‘resistance points’. Once you’re familiar with your inner enemies who make up that “intelligent, active, malign force working against us”, he’ll drill you on ways to take them out.

Why I love this book

Steven is equal parts drill sergeant and cheerleader. He shouts at you to get on with the work and ‘high fives’ you when you do.


'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway' by Susan Jeffers


This book has stood the test of time. Jeffers’ simple, compelling message that all our choices bring opportunities still rings true for me.

Fear is often a huge barrier to change career. We’re afraid of making a ‘wrong’ choice. More specifically we fear not being able to handle the consequences of that choice.

Jeffers reminds us that we’ll survive matter what happens. She doesn’t discount the strength of our fear but she wants us to reframe it. Her powerful, practical belief is that we can handle anything if we can see its potential to help us grow and learn.

Why I love this book

As a twenty something, fledgling grown up navigating London life, this book helped me to be less fearful and more resilient in making decisions and moving on.


'Taming Your Gremlin' by Rick Carson


Here is a practical imaginative guide to disarming your inner gremlin. This is the confidence-bashing voice that shouts you down and trashes your dreams and schemes. If you believe that you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not smart enough’, ‘not ready yet’ ‘not brave enough’ or in fact‘not ever going to amount to anything’, you are firmly in your gremlin’s destructive clutches.  

This book shows you how to get your gremlin under control using mindfulness and imagination. It teaches you how to step back from their nasty rant and simply take note of their voice. See your gremlin for what he or she is but save yourself the energy sapping grief of hooking into the negative thoughts. Carson also suggests disempowering your gremlin by drawing them and giving them a character.

Why I love this book

My gremlin is a moody, snarky, finger-pointing headmistress. Now I know how she looks and sounds, her ‘scary cred’ is shot to bits.


If you have a standout career change book in your pile, I’d love to add it to mine. Drop me an email and let me know!

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I know what it feels like to be lost in your career. I also know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.