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I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It Paperback – August 5, 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"A life without direction is a life without passion," says motivational specialist, therapist, and career counselor Barbara Sher. In I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, a sort of broader, less dense, and less intimidating version of What Color Is Your Parachute?, she reveals how to "recapture long lost goals, overcome the blocks that inhibit your success, decide what you want to be, and live your dreams."

This is a perfect book for new college graduates or anyone sick and tired of languishing in a dead-end job or relationship--yet reluctant to make drastic life changes due to uncertainty about what would actually inspire them. I Could Do Anything combines the I'm-not-buying your-excuses inspiration of Dr. Laura Schlessinger with the soothing, analytic encouragement of Dr. Martin Seligman in his classic Learned Optimism. In other words, Sher will pick you up off your butt and get you moving. She's included enough self-analytical exercises in here to save you hundreds of dollars in therapy.

Whether you're looking to make improvements in your job or personal life, Sher will teach you how to determine what your goals are, and how to successfully reach them--even if right now the only thing you know is that you're vaguely to very unhappy and haven't the foggiest idea what to do with yourself.

From Publishers Weekly

Therapist Sher's guide to discovering and attaining personal and career goals was a PW bestseller for five weeks.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; 1 edition (August 5, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440505003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440505006
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jessica on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book literally changed my life. I have been wondering - since about the age of 15, I'm now 31 - what I really wanted to do work-wise. I sort of bounced from one thing that I'm good at to the next variation on that theme, without ever feeling passionate or fulfilled. I painful breakup and growing discontent at work led me to try to sort this situation out once and for all and purely by luck I came across this book at the library.

I didn't start it until I felt ready, because I knew it wasn't going to be 'light on'. But one Saturday I picked it up and spent the next 8 hours pouring through it, doing the exercises and having one epiphany after another. At the end of it all I had applied to eight companies that did the sort of work I wanted to do and I ended up getting a job at my first choice, even without direct experience in that field. I'm 8 months into that job and I could not be happier.

The way I see it, the first three chapters of this book are about working out what you personally enjoy and are passionate about, while the remaining chapters are to help you overcome any barriers that prevent you from having that sort of work. This means that maybe only one of those latter chapters are for you, but it's all so practical that it's bound to have something that helps.

For me, the barriers weren't the big deal, it was knowing what on earth I wanted to do. And trust me - I had tried almost every other thing, including personality tests, seeing professional counsellors, everything. This book helped me unlock those activities that I have enjoyed since I was just a little child, and see the common thread amongst them. It was like learning more about yourself in a day than you learn in a decade.
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Format: Paperback
A lot of people had told Barbara Sher that her book "Wishcraft," about getting what you want, was of little use to them because they didn't know what they wanted. So she wrote this book for those of us who need help figuring out what we want. After three introductory chapters, the remaining eleven chapters discuss eleven different forms of resistance to knowing what you want. I suspect that most readers will, as I did, find a few of the chapters especially relevant and won't bother reading past the opening sentences of some other chapters.
I particularly related to the chapters about being afraid to commit to something prematurely, and about not being interested in anything at all. There's also a chapter for you if you're afraid to take risks; if you're afraid of succeeding and leaving your loved ones behind; if you want too many different things; if you're succeeding spectacularly at something you don't really want; if you feel that what you really want is trivial or unworthy; if you've just been through a big life change and don't know what to do next; if you had a dream but it's become unattainable; if you resist doing anything ordinary or mundane; and if you're trying hard to love something you don't really want.
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Format: Paperback
"Wishcraft" knocked my socks off many years ago. While this didn't pack the same punch for me, I still recommend it heartily as a follow-up to the previous book: she builds upon its insights to offer eminently practical help for discovering what you want in life. I like Sher's approach for two reasons: (1) she makes it clear that achieving what you want in life doesn't necessarily shape itself neatly into "career" (a common mistake in career and life-planning books), and (2) she recognizes that not everyone has one GRAND passion; some people are generalists by nature, and that's just as valid (and achievable!) a way of life. Her down-to-earth and realistic approach is refreshing, and she makes no extravagant promises. In fact, her books WILL change your life -- but only because she's shown you that you know what you're looking for, and just need some practical guidance about how to find it!
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If you're the type who has always wanted to make a career move but has allowed doubt, fear, family pressure, or some other excuse to get in the way of progress, then this book might be the cure you're looking for. It describes the different obstacles that individuals often face when they try to find fulfilling employment and explains different motivational techniques to overcome these barriers.

This book is written as a self- help guide and it is complete with exercises that you can complete at home with a pen and piece of paper. These exercises ask you to list out things about yourself, like your ideal career lifestyle, or typical excuses you make that interfere with career changes. Then, following your writing exercise, the book will help you analyze what you have said and help you make your wishes reality.

Besides the exercises, this book also contains plenty of quotations from people who have attended the author's self- help seminars. This is added so that you, the reader, can hear what other people have to say who are probably in the same predicament as you. They share their personal feelings on the problems they have encountered when trying to switch lifestyles and they hold nothing back. It provides a good dose of reality to the book.

This book isn't a self- test type of book that tries to determine what type of career would suit your skills best. It is intended for those who already have a general idea what they want to do but are unsure how to overcome the mental obstacles, family pressures, financial concerns, and other problems that interfere with pursuing a major life change.
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