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A Self-Help Book disguised in Academic Language
on June 8, 2012
How Will You Measure Your Life aims to be a fluff free piece on finding purpose and happiness in your life. To achieve this, Christensen examines how businesses thrive and fail, turning those examples as lessons for our personal lives. He breaks down the book into 3 parts:
1. FINDING HAPPINESS IN YOUR CAREER--Readers familiar with the book "Drive" by Daniel Pink or the two factor theory will find similar advice here. Most people think getting rewards for jobs (i.e. money, benefits, vacation) will increase happiness. Instead these factors merely reduce dissatisfaction. Whereas, Challenging work, recognition, and responsibility will increase our satisfaction in a job. Christensen urges us not to focus on the result of our career, but on the process (which is a running theme throughout the book). I felt this simple cliche was clouded in Academic language. When I state "Academic," - I merely mean using too many words or new jargon to describe simple concepts. For example, he states if you are currently unhappy in your job, try out new things on the side or use an "emergent strategy," while if you are happy in your career, use a "deliberate strategy" to get better. Despite using the words "emergent", "deliberate", and "strategy", I felt this was pretty common advice.
2. FINDING HAPPINESS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS--this section is particularly useful if you are a parent, as much of part II is dedicated to raising better children. Instead of rewarding children for the result (i.e. getting an A), we should congratulate them on their work ethic. I found the point of treating ourselves and people in our lives as "jobs" a particularly fascinating way to look at life. For example, we "hire" school so children can feel successful and have friends. Think of your relationships as "what jobs does this person need me to do?" Christensen also reemphasizes the need for parents to be present in a Child's early years, as research has shown, they gain a vast cognitive advantage (become smarter earlier). The main takeaway I got from part II was to stop placing so much emphasis on building a career and THEN focus on relationships--instead make the time and apply the effort to building both--even if that means an engaging project has to wait until tomorrow.
3. STAYING OUT OF JAIL--The shortest section of the book, this part deals with living a life of integrity. This chapter in summary states: set a boundary (i.e. going to Church on Sundays), and never violate it...not even "just this once."
EPILOGUE: The last part of this section contains "The Three Parts of Purpose," which Christensen attributes to Likeness, Commitment, and metrics. This part alone exemplifies the unnecessary long winded writing found throughout. "The Three Parts of Purpose" which comprises numerous pages, is more or less "Set a goal based on your values, commit to it, and measure it" advice in disguise.
As a twenty something self-employed business owner, I realize I am not the target demographic for this book. This book is more suitable for managers or employees of a large corporation, parents, or both. While perhaps the book's aim was not to be another self-help book, it merely turns out to be one disguised under academic language. Those new to the concepts of the "two factor theory," or overworked parents may find this book to be particularly useful. As a whole, it brings common self-help themes and career advice under one roof.