Suggested Reading: Motivation
The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer by Steven Kotler. There are many decent books about motivation out there, some of which include Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, and Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.
The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer by Steven Kotler puts all these other books in the shade. Really, the book is way bigger than motivation. Indeed, divided into four parts, “motivation” takes up only the first part, followed by “learning,” “creativity,” and “flow.” What these four parts result in is a pathway to genuine action.
There is so much practical advice in this book, it’s hard to summarize. However, to pull out something particularly useful in creating a roadmap for your transition to a green job, let’s start with articulating your “massive transformative purpose” (MTP) that is your life’s mission and should guide all your thinking. If you’re reading this website, your MTP is probably to help course-correct climate change and the environmental crisis. But that’s so big, it’s hard to get a grip on.
Nested under the MTP is the “high hard goal” (HHG). For you, this might be “get a Master’s degree in sustainability and management” or “secure a job as a solar panel installer.” Your HHG still requires a lot of effort (and can take years to complete), but it’s way more achievable than your MTP. However, the HHG can still feel so big that it’s overwhelming.
Nested under the HHG are “clear goals,” which are much smaller goals that take place on a daily basis (your “to-do list”). Maybe a clear goal is “do research on Master’s degrees in sustainability and management” or “search for jobs as a solar panel installer.”
If your stack of MTP, HHG and clear goals are all in alignment, then you have a plausible pathway from here to “impossible.” It’s also a good way of filtering opportunities that may come your way. Every opportunity you pursue (beyond the basics such as looking after yourself and your family), should be aligned with the stack: if it’s not, you probably shouldn’t do it, even if it’s interesting.
Anyway, there are many useful things in this book. Please go and read it and, just as importantly, act upon some of the advice, because knowing is not good enough: you have to actually do stuff 🙂
Suggested Reading: Midlife Career Change
Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success by Dawn Graham. Settling on a single book recommendation for midlife career change is complicated, because it depends very much on whether the tone of the author appeals to you and which part of the puzzle the author addresses. For example, if you’re looking for help with the vision to make a change, then a lot of people enjoy the gentle Why Bother: Discover the Desire for What’s Next by Jennifer Louden. If you’re after something a little more punchy, you could try Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life by Adam Markel.
Let’s assume you have the vision part settled, and you’ve now established your MTP, and maybe even your HHG. Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success by Dawn Graham provides some useful practical steps to making things happen.
Again, there is a lot of practical advice in this book, so it’s hard to summarize. However, to pull out something particularly useful in creating a roadmap for your transition to a green job, let’s start with identifying which type of career shift you are making. You’ve probably already figured out there are different types of career change, but Graham gives these form.
First is the easiest type, the “industry switch” where you take your current functional skills to another industry. So, for example, if you are currently a communications specialist in the financial sector, you look to become a communications specialist in a green job.
Second, and harder, is the “functional switch” where you don’t have the functional skills but you do have experience of the industry. So, for example, if you are currently a communications specialist in the financial sector, you look to become a sustainability specialist in the financial sector (potentially even with your current employer).
Third, and hardest, is the “double switcher” that requires a switch in both function and industry. So, for example, if you are currently a communications specialist in the financial sector, you look to become a solar panel installer.
Each type of switch requires a different strategy, and Graham explores these along with advice about the psychology of switching careers, clarifying your focus, establishing a personal brand, and mobilizing your network so people act as your ambassadors.
It’s easy to imagine how this advice (along with the excellent advice contained in the other books mentioned) provides a lot of suggestions for your daily clear goals that will funnel toward your HHG and MTP 🙂
Suggested Reading: Midlife Malaise
This third recommendation focuses on the Ecotopian Careers theme of midlife transition, and it explores the malaise that can often accompany it. If you have experienced no midlife malaise, that’s great and you can skip right over this recommendation, but the rest of you might benefit from exploring this subject in greater detail.
The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 by Jonathan Rauch explores an insightful cross-cultural observation about the ebb and flow of happiness in our lives. Look at the U-shaped graph on the book cover above. The vertical axis represents happiness and the horizontal axis represents age.
Let’s start the horizontal axis around the age of 20. We can see that the happiness level is high (if you’re reading this around the age of 20 and are hoping things are going to get better, you’re about to read some bad news). We can see that happiness drops off with age, and hits the bottom of the U-shape around the age of 46. This is when people are typically saddled with multiple family and financial responsibilities, and are disillusioned with their careers. Numerous Ecotopian Careers readers will find this resonates strongly with their experience. This is a very sticky time for many people.
But, look again at the graph! This period of midlife malaise is typically finite: indeed, the level of happiness slowly begins to rise again until the mid-sixties where, assuming good health, people are often as happy as they’ve ever been, maybe more so. This is fabulous news if you’re currently experiencing midlife malaise, as it suggests there is a strong statistical likelihood that you’re in for an unexpected good surprise (and apparently, this upward trajectory to Happiness 2.0 really does take a lot of people by surprise).
This is particularly important from the perspective of a transition to a green job. Not only is this transition necessary in order to help course-correct the environmental crisis, it will also coincide with a whole new chapter of your life that is often characterized by a greater sense of wellbeing. By combining the values-driven decision to help the environment with Happiness 2.0, there is a decent chance that this new chapter will be the best chapter of your life. If that’s not something to look forward to, what is?