How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric [Book Summary – Review]


Perhaps you’re conversant with this situation already. You’ve (eventually) completed college; you’ve been waiting for life to accomplish this. The only thing you wish for is to begin working, make money, and relish some of that spare time taken by late hours of study – time you intend to put into chasing your cherished hobbies.

However, then what occurs? Over and over again you become trapped at work; you feel irrelevant and bored. Every free instant finds you fantasizing yourself away to a tropical island. You don’t have time for relaxation or fun. You imagine the gray hairs to begin growing rapidly.

Getting satisfying work is not easy at all. Nowadays, it’s not just about fending for yourself as well as your family. Work is way beyond that. It’s about getting that work that satisfies you. In this book chapter, the author describes the idea of fulfilling work, and, perhaps, more significantly, presents various steps you can utilize to get and accomplish it.


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Chapter 1 – We’re not satisfied when our expectations about work aren’t fulfilled.


Are you aware that a minimum of 50% of workers in the Western world is not happy with their work? A survey done in Europe even proposes that if people had the choice to start afresh, 60% would select a different profession. However, what makes them really unhappy?

The dissatisfaction we experience at work usually arises from the reality that our expectations are higher than ever before. Contemporary employees don’t only chase a decent salary– they expect their work to add meaning to their life.

But, this wasn’t usually the situation. People were formerly pleased with having a place to stay and food on the table. However, now that the majority of us, in the Western world, is somewhat rich and can afford our basic needs, we’re searching for more than only good pay.

Therefore, although you would most likely get to the end of your tether working hard on an assembly line, your grandparents were most likely okay with it and even thankful to be able to afford their bills.

These days, we’re pursuing a feeling of purpose and want to chase our personal passions, values, as well as gifts. Essentially, we want our work to be satisfying.



What, then, do we have to do? Well, you can maybe reduce your expectations (people in support of this strategy say that work has usually been tiresome and never a joy and that hence we have to reduce our expectations and search for satisfaction outside of work) or you can be part of the people who believe that getting a fulfilling job is possible if maybe challenging.

The latter strategy motivated you to chase your dreams, rather than regretting that you never attempted to release yourself from the bondages of your unfulfilling work.

It’s somewhat clear that we’ll now move on with the latter approach! However, before we understand precisely what makes a career fulfilling, let’s attempt to better know the reason why meaningful work can be really hard to see.


Chapter 2 – In this present world, there is an overwhelming number of job options.


In this present world, a lot of us experience a crisis of indecision and confusion when attempting to pick a profession. At the basis of our confusion lies the reality that there are basically a lot of paths to decide from.

That kind of an overwhelming wealth of choices is unprecedented in our history; hence, we’re really not equipped to deal with it. In the past few decades, there basically weren’t a lot of career options to face.

Think of the young Benjamin Franklin. At the active age of twelve, he was exhausted from working as a tallow chandler; hence, his father chose to assist him to get a new job. Together, they took a walk through the streets and noticed various workers working, like joiners and bricklayers. They ended up at a printer, where young Benjamin’s father chose that his son, a habitual booklover, should choose the profession. Hence, Benjamin became a printer for the following nine years.



If just things were still really easy. Nowadays, when you go to a career website, like careerplanner.com, you’ll see about 12,000 various careers. Barely a number that is easy to go through, let alone pick from!

Ironically, we don’t feel grateful for this excess of option, just because we’re not psychologically able to handle an overload of options.

Barry Schwartz, a psychologist said in his book, The Paradox of Choice, that the repercussion of facing a lot of choices is, not feelings of gladness and freedom; however, a kind of paralysis, an inability to do anything at all.

Also, even though we actually make a choice, we usually still feel unfulfilled. Why? The reason is that, although we have decided, the rejected choices remain in the back of the mind. Is ours actually the correct career? What if we’ve made a very bad error? Hence, we’re troubled by the likelihood that our option was the incorrect one.


Chapter 3 – It’s not an easy thing to abandon the career path we’re on already–however if it isn’t fulfilling, change it!


At times it’s not being overwhelmed with the option that’s the issue; however, feeling stuck in a certain job. In those kinds of cases, change is what’s hard. We usually feel trapped since we’ve used a lot much time and energy on the education that gave us a specific job – a job whereby we’re not satisfied with now. Therefore, what can we do?

There’s a significant force that makes us stuck in unfulfilling work: those first choices that directed us to a certain career path. Due to that, we feel bound by our educational past.

The issue is that we’re told to make career choices really early. How is an eighteen-year-old graduate of high school meant to understand the actual job that best fits her interests and gifts?



The majority of us have experienced it: during your late teens, your parents mentioned that you should study law or medicine. However, as you got older, you found out more about yourself, you grew and transformed, and when you got to your late twenties, you realized that you’d rather go after something that is entirely different, such as music or psychology.

However, as soon as you begin a career path, it’s really difficult to abandon it. Those entire years, all that money, wasted on education!

If you wish to change your career, you need to change your mentality and defeat this psychological obstacle. Consider it as a choice between two kinds of regret: you’ll either regret that you left the career you put in a lot of time and energy in, or you’ll regret that you never had the courage to leave and set out in search of a more fulfilling future.

Maybe this will assist you to decide: psychological research has revealed that the regret of not acting on things that are actually significant to you is one of the most scarring emotions you can feel. Deciding on a career change is the way forward.


Chapter 4 – Money, as well as status, aren’t as fulfilling as we assume.


Therefore, what are the key elements that constitute a career fulfilling? The outdated, knee-jerk reply is “money and rank.” However, is that truly correct?

Definitely, the bills have to be paid with something; however, money, as a pure happiness-enhancer, isn’t really effective. As a matter of fact, numerous social science studies have revealed that there is no clear association between happiness and monetary riches.

Although proof reveals that money adds to your well-being up to a specific point – the fulfillment of your basic needs – it offers but small fulfillment as soon as you make above this point. This is a result of a psychological mechanism known as the “hedonic treadmill”: we buy some new things, such as a wide-screen TV, and immediately become used to and get bored of it. This brings about greater expectations, and we wish that the next item, such as a larger, better screen, will bring fulfillment. Hence, we get engrossed in a vicious cycle of wanting –whereby there’s no happy end.

Therefore, money isn’t the solution. However, what of social status or credit from other people? It’s correct that all of us like to be recognized; but, the path to a higher status is strewn with consequences as well.



For one, we restrict ourselves to doing things that make others appreciate us. We judge ourselves with the eyes of other people, rather than going after the things we want for ourselves.

Another consequence is that as soon as we’ve gotten to some status – for instance, being promoted,– there is still another, more esteemed status above us, and there will always be. Hence, we lust after the next status, and then the next one until we are once again trapped on a limitless, unsatisfactory treadmill of wanting a thing we don’t have.

Hence, if it’s not money and status that brings fulfillment – what does then?


Chapter 5 – Making a difference offers you a sense of significance, although it’s not easy to mix with the business.


There are various vital components that constitute fulfilling work. One of these components is the sense that your work has significance. Meaning, your work gives you a feeling of adding to the world in a positive manner.

When young students are requested about what they imagine from their future work, they’ll usually reply with, “I want to make a difference.” However, what do they actually mean by this statement and how do they plan to achieve this?

We have a tendency to consider our jobs as more satisfying when we sense that we’re making are adding significantly to a thing that helps our planet as well as our fellow humans. When given that kind of opportunity, our personal happiness improves as well. A study that was conducted on ethical work reveals that people who consider their job as “work of expert quality that contributes to the larger society” also report meaningfully greater job satisfaction.

However, people wishing to join ethics and business usually have a problem; ethics and business look irreconcilable. But, these two things are not mutually exclusive.



For instance, consider, Anita Roddick, the creator of The Body Shop. She talked about The Body Shop as “a hair and skin company that functions for positive social transformation.” From the onset, she was able to mix business and ethics: she showed pictures of people that are missing on Body Shop trucks, started a magazine sold by homeless people and initiated fair trade, purchasing ingredients from local communities in Brazil.

It may not be an easy task; however, Anita Roddick is evidence that mixing your ethical ideals into your business may not be as hard as you believe, either.


Chapter 6 – Going after what you love and discovering your flow experiences will make you happy.


When talking about your career ideas with friends and family, you’ve most likely been told to “only do what you love.” Even though this is encouraging, this piece of wisdom easily said, is very difficult to stick to. Since the question is – what precisely do you love to do?

For you to know what you love doing, set apart some time to think about what offers you a flow experience.

Flow is a state of complete focus and concentration where you’re really engrossed in your activity that you forget about every other thing. Doing what you love is frequently accompanied by this feeling.

There are various means to experience flow, depending on your own personal mixture of gifts and passions. For instance, it could be doing a surgical operation, doing yoga, playing piano, programming, public speaking or constructing things. Fascinatingly, surgeons who need complete focus when doing hard operations usually state that they lose their sense of time or that it moves faster than normal.



There’s overwhelming proof that the flow experience is vital to happiness in life and work since it offers us a satisfying sense of being able to completely access our potential.

Therefore, if you’re trapped in a job where you do not experience any flow, think of looking for another job that actually gives you this sensation. There are two means to go about getting this work:

Firstly, attempt conversational research. This basically entails asking various people about their work. Don’t be really comprehensive; ask precisely if they ever experience flow in their work.

Secondly, you could notice yourself and your flow experiences by having a flow diary. Was that report fascinating and fulfilling to write? Perhaps, did you experience more flow in that weekend when you were making food for your visitors?


Chapter 7 – If you wish to have fulfilling work, you have to search for freedom.


This is the reason why the majority of the people are angry with their present job: they get home late, with no strength remaining to do the thing they truly love, and tomorrow is yet another similar day. If you can relate to this, you’re definitely not the only one. The majority of people feel stuck in some terrible jobs.

A vital component verified to be part of job satisfaction is to possess a “span of autonomy,” meaning, at times where you’re free to choices on your own. The more liberty you get, the happier you’ll be.

Hence, what can you do? Well, when we talk about work, there are two various means to improve autonomy and freedom.

The first way is through self-employment, which comes, obviously, with both advantages and disadvantages.

One of the advantages of self-employment is that the self-employed have a better opportunity of feeling fulfilled than the people who are wallowing in normal jobs. In a study that was conducted in the UK’s Work Foundation, 47% of self-employed workers mentioned they were “very satisfied” with their work; whereas, just 17% of people employed by others stated high satisfaction.



However, definitely, there are disadvantages as well. Self-employment actually comes with financial risks and extra working hours in the evening or on the weekend; there’s no regular holiday or sick pay, and no promotions.

The other method is to look for freedom beyond the office by working less.

Why not attempt to work four days a week rather than five? You could make use of the free day to concentrate on what you truly love or even to use more time with your family.

Financially, working less might look unrealistic; however, if you make it your aim to reduce the fat on your costs, using less time and money on things you don’t truly require, you won’t have to work as much and you’ll get more time to enjoy your life.


Chapter 8 – The first and second steps to discovering fulfilling work are to defeat your fear and limit your options.


Now that you understand what entails a job fulfilling, let’s move to the aspect that a lot of us actually appear to struggle with –really discovering fulfilling work.

The first difficulty is defeating the fear that goes together with the thought of a major career change. But, if you completely know the mindset behind this fear, you’ll be able to overcome it.

What’s this fear essentially about? Our psychological approach to risk is one answer to this. Psychologists have discovered that it’s fixed in our nature to fear loss twice as much as we want to gain. Hence, we naturally detest taking a risk and are prone to concentrate more on the negative effects than the positive effects.

Hence, instead of being bound by risk and allowing fear control your life, bear in mind that you’re most likely overdoing it on the negative views. Attempt taking the risk notwithstanding!

 The next thing to do is to think about the type of job you’d love. There are three phases that can assist you to accomplish this:



Firstly, think about your career so far. What experiences and skills have you achieved and learned? What inspired you to get them?

The second thing to do is a direct yet strong thought experiment. Visualize could lead to five various lives in five various parallel universes; in each universe, you are completely allowed to chase any kind of career you want. What type of jobs would you decide for yourself? Could you possibly do those jobs in this earthly reality as well?

Thirdly, ask the people in your social circles the kind of job they believe you’d do well.  At times, people that surround us can be better judges than us. Make sure you ask for real answers. For instance, “assisting street kids in Rio de Janeiro” is very more beneficial than “something with children.”


Chapter 9 – For you to get fulfilling work, you have to abort meticulous planning and try it out.


The majority of career advisors advise you to plan out your career in as much detail as possible before you carry it out. There’s an issue with this method, but: it barely ever works.

A really more effective method is using the mantra “act first, and reflect afterward” –which means it’s better to attempt numerous jobs than to waste away the hours looking for the perfect position in print or online.

It has been revealed by current research that large change is best realized by “experiential learning.” Think of Laura van Bouchet. She was angry about not getting a fulfilling job during her late twenties. Because her career counselor was at a loss as well, Laura decided to do an experiment: she attempted 30 various jobs in one year to find which one would be best appropriate for her. She asked people who she believed had fulfilling jobs and asked them if she could follow their path, eventually trying everything from fashion photography to shadowing a member of the European Parliament.

The “radical sabbatical” taken by Laura gives complete freedom to toy with various jobs, either by shadowing people or by volunteering. However, if this isn’t somewhat achievable for you, there are other strategies to attempt.



The “temporary assignment” is a less radical strategy. For instance, if you’re suffering in your present job and toying with the idea of turning into a yoga teacher, you could attempt doing this during weekends. If you discover that the work is as beneficial as you’d expected, you can slowly increase your work and ultimately leave the stuffy job you never actually liked.

Lastly, there’s “conversational research.” It’s easy; however, really effective: discuss with people about whose occupations you’re curious about. Tell them to explain their day-day work in-depth and comprehend if you could imagine yourself doing that.


Chapter 10 – There are different means to make both your career as well as your family life fulfilling.


When we talk about career and family, the majority of us want to have everything: we want the benefits of significant work and of committed partnership and parenthood. However, is this achievable and, if it is, how do we achieve it?

Begin by rethinking the tasks traditionally laid out for men and women; if you don’t already, you have to begin seeing both father and mother as equal partners.

The past few decades have been rampant with freedom, and still, it’s usually believed that women will do the majority of childcare and domestic chores. Hence, its usually women, not men, who end up quitting or adjusting their careers.

Parents have to endeavor to equally share work and support each other, rather than making mom the only juggler of family and career.

Likewise, it is beneficial to substitute between family and career, rather than attempting to do well at both at the same time. Firstly, attempt to be a full-time parent; later, focus only on your career.



When a couple gives birth, one parent – frequently the mother – prunes work down to part-time hours, which is regarded as the way the family can “have it all.” Rather, those kinds of families are usually able to gain neither the advantages of work nor family, as they can’t completely concentrate on one thing or the other. They’re not able to flourish in their part-time job and they can’t totally commit themselves to their children.

Lastly, take another view at parenthood. It can bring down your career down that you wouldn’t have imagined before. A Canadian single-father called Brian Campbell who has four boys quit his academic career to turn into a full-time parent. Zealous about getting his boys connected with nature, he began keeping bees. So, he eventually had a small bee farm, additionally to some hives around the city, and started teaching courses on urban beekeeping.


Chapter 11 – Take your time: vocation can’t be discovered overnight – it gradually develops in you.


We’ve learned almost everything about looking for fulfilling work; however, there is a last, significant component – your vocation.

What is the reason why vocation really serious? Well, vocation is a thing that offers purpose to your work in its entirety. It’s a bigger aim that you are chasing, the thing that makes you leave your bed daily.

For instance, if you’re a medical researcher, your aim might be to look for a cure for lung cancer. For instance, you’re an environmental activist, your goal might be to have cities thrive with minimized carbon emissions. If you’re a writer, you might target writing the greatest novel since Joyce’s Ulysses.

However, while a vocation adds meaning to your life, it’s difficult to develop. This reason is that we hold specific basically wrong assumptions about the nature of vocations.

The majority of the people assume that there is one perfect work waiting for them out there and that it will show itself in a rapid flash of inspiration. Or maybe they just have to look long and hard enough to see it. However, this isn’t the case.



You won’t abruptly get the perfect vocation; rather, it grows within you, gradually growing as your sustained work cultivates it.

Think of Marie Curie. Relocating to Paris at just the age of 24, broke, with just her gift to support her, she began her medical studies; she then changed to chemistry and physics. She was completely committed to her work and uses up to 12 hours in the laboratory daily, living on just bread and butter for months continuously. Then, she changed her research into uranium rays. As she got more and more interested in them, her vocation grew until she knew she wanted to commit her life to find the secrets of radiation. She eventually accomplished this and, in 1903, she was the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize.

It actually does pay, then, not to request that your vocation be discovered to you instantly. Rather, let it develop through your experience.


How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric Book Review


During times of difficulty and options, a good salary and social status are not good enough anymore. We wish for our work to be purposeful, significant and full of freedom and flow. For us to find precisely that, we have to abandon meticulous planning, attempt things, take some risks and also learn from our experiences.


Write down a job advertisement for yourself.

First step: Visualize that you need to advertise yourself in a newspaper. Explain your abilities, passions and gifts and your minimum expectations of a future job. Don’t be too precise and don’t say a specific job you want.

Second step: Send the job advertisement you have written to 10 people you are familiar with. Ensure that these people have diverse experiences – send the advertisement to a police officer and a cartoonist. Then question these 10 people to propose three jobs that they believe would fit you best.


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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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