Ch-ch-ch-changes: Some books to guide us toward good transitions


As we turn the calendar to a New Year, I wanted to gather together some recommended titles for those who are engaged in or contemplating a major work or personal transition. In several instances I’ve borrowed from previous blog posts mentioning the books. If you’re in the midst of big changes, these books may prove a worthy investment in terms of your livelihood and well-being. I hope you find them helpful.

The Encore Career Handbook

Lawyer-turned-writer Marci Alboher is the author of a newly-published book, Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life (2013). In her opening chapter, she writes:

You’ve hit a wall, lost a job, or are just wondering “Is this all there is?” Maybe your retirement plan has been shattered. Maybe the word “retirement” doesn’t even resonate with you. You may be forty and thinking about planning for another thirty years of work, or fifty-five and thinking of a ten- or fifteen-year third act, or seventy and wondering how to find a part-time job that would add money and meaning to your life.

Lots of inspiration and advice on planning and doing.

Let Your Life Speak

Less how-to and more contemplative, Parker J. Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (2000) is a wonderful little book. Here he quotes a portion of a poem by May Sarton:

Now I become myself.

It’s taken time, many years and places.

I have been dissolved and shaken,

Worn other people’s faces. . . .


Pamela D. McLean and Frederic M. Hudson of The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara are co-authors of LifeLaunch: A Passionate Guide for the Rest of Your Life (5th ed. 2011). From their Foreword:

It’s our experience in working with hundreds of very talented and resourceful people over the last twenty years that most of us spend more time reacting to changes that surprise us, than we do in the listening to our own inner stirrings and yearnings so that we might craft intentional new chapters/transitions at the inevitable crossroads in our adult journey.

Hudson also founded the Fielding Graduate University, an innovative, flexible learning school for adults that emphasizes personal and organizational growth and change.

The $100 Startup

The long tag line for Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup (2012) is “Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.” As I wrote earlier this year:

If you’re serious about starting your own business, The $100 Startup is not the only resource you’ll want to consult — others will provide necessary advice on bureaucratic, tax, and legal details — but it likely will be one you return to for inspiration, ideas, and examples.

Okay, so your own $100 startup is unlikely to produce funds sufficient to earn a living at first, but the neat thing about this book is that it shows you how easy it can be to get started.


Here’s a piece of what the blog kendrabookgirl wrote about Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes (2004 ed), by William Bridges:

When life shifts happen, there are a few “universal” phases that almost everyone goes through, whether they realize it or not. This book is not really a how-to book for facing those challenging phases, but a book to put the phases in perspective and provide clues for how to respond and accept the emotions that are likely to pop up during the transition time.

There’s a chapter devoted specifically to work changes. Thoughtful stuff.

What Color is Your Parachute?

Richard N. Bolles’s bestselling career manual What Color is Your Parachute? remains a classic. It’s affordable, thought provoking, supportive, and useful — an excellent starting place for anyone planning a vocational transition or job search. The book is faithfully updated every year, and the 2013 edition is at the bookstores. Bolles doesn’t ignore the realities of the current job situation; recent editions open with a new chapter titled “How to Find Hope.”

I’ve heard people criticize Parachute because it didn’t get them the job they wanted or needed. But like any guidebook, it can’t ensure a result. And it cannot do the grunt work for someone. While mixed with hope and inspiration, it’s a book for those who are ready to move forward in concrete ways.

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