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The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One Hardcover – January 10, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Some people just can't seem to settle down: they jump from career to career, from interest to interest; they chafe at being pinned down to one job or self-definition. This need for variety and love of finding new challenges, says career and life coach Lobenstine, can be a positive trait. Lobenstine's aim is to help such people find ways to pursue their varied interests without feeling overwhelmed. Her "focal point" strategy suggests picking a small number—usually four—of interests to pursue for now, interests that might be exchanged for others at a later time. And the author proposes various ways to integrate one's career into these focal points: if you're passionate about your work, it might be one focal point; for others it might be a way to pay the bills while they pursue other interests. One inexperienced older woman with a longstanding desire for a career in the art world found a clerical job at a museum, where she had access to curators and an opportunity to volunteer her graphic skills. Lobenstine has identified a situation rarely addressed by self-help books, and her advice is sensible, concrete and do-able.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Here's one self-help book that is exactly as advertised, well thought out and offering sage advice..."

Boston Sunday Globe

“Can’t decide which life or career path is right for you? Maybe you don’t have to! In The Renaissance Soul, Margaret Lobenstine offers inspiration, advice, and practical tips for people with more than one burning passion.”

—Laurence Boldt, author of Zen and the Art of Making a Living

“I’m so grateful this book has finally been written! I need, my clients need, the world needs this incredibly helpful, practical, life-changing guidebook for those of us with a multitude of passions and aptitudes.  Please, get this book into the hands of every person you know who is a Renaissance Soul.  You could change their lives!”
—Jennifer Louden, author of Comfort Secrets for Busy Women and other books in the bestselling Comfort Book series

The Renaissance Soul will help highly innovative and creative people find ways to make their many dreams come true. I’ve already begun using its wonderful ideas and practices with clients.”
—M. J. Ryan, executive coach and author of The Happiness Makeover

“An intelligent and refreshingly innovative book that offers a multi-dimensional vision of vocation. It will help many on the road to creative career transformation.”
—E. H. Rick Jarow, author of Creating the Work You Love and Alchemy of Abundance

“Wow! Where was The Renaissance Soul when I needed it during my five career changes?  This is a fabulous guide for people who find themselves constantly tap dancing from job to job. Benjamin Franklin would be proud!”
–Julie Jansen, author of I Don’t  Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This 

“Sure to speak to Boomers and older people who have done many things well yet feel sidelined by a culture that rewards consistency and focus. Margaret Lobenstine makes the world safer for the multi-gifted of any age who are well-served by her wit and wisdom. Bravo!” 

–Marika and Howard Stone, co-authors of Too Young to Retire: 101 Ways to Start the Rest of Your Life

The Renaissance Soul is welcome news for individuals who just can't make up their mind 'what they want to be when they grow up!'  Career coach Margaret Lobenstine shows how you can have it all and create a structure for yourself that blends your many talents, abilities, and intelligences into one vital and satisfying lifestyle.”
–Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.  author of 7 Kinds of Smart:  Identifying and Discovering Your Multiple Intelligences
“Finally the multi-gifted have a champion. But anyone feeling that they only need a little sunshine in order to blossom will find this book bursting with light—it has all the creative and practical ideas they need for getting life on towards its purpose.”

 –Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person and The Highly Sensitive Child

 “With this long-overdue book, Margaret finally reveals that the constantly evolving people among us are actually the ones most equipped to thrive in a world where adaptability, creativity and emotional awareness are the qualities that make all the difference in career/life success. It's about time we acknowledged that the career track has been replaced by the career trampoline. As a career counselor and coach and former director of a career office working with people ages 18 to 80, I know that Lobenstine's message will be welcomed both by Renaissance souls searching for 21st century career advice and the professionals hoping to provide it.”
–Dr. Barbara Reinhold, author of Free to Succeed: Designing the Life You Want in the New Free Agent Economy and former director, Smith College Office of Career Development
“For all the people who have a multiple of passions, this book’s for you. The life journey we take to answer to our own Self maybe different from the ‘norm.’ Margaret Lobenstine is a wise guide on that journey, offering help and inspiration as you develop fully into the Renaissance Soul that you are meant to be! This book will be a cherished traveling companion.”
–Marilyn Tam, Former President of Reebok Apparel & Accessories Group and international selling author of How to Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1St Edition edition (January 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767920880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767920889
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
After years of being neglected by all the "Find Your True Work"-oriented books, courses, and career counselors, we "Renaissance souls" now seem to have an embarrassment of riches. I read this book and Barbara Sher's "Refuse to Choose" in succession. Both are well worth reading, and, while I prefer Sher's book for several reasons, I strongly urge anyone who recognizes themselves as a "Renaissance soul" to read both books.

Lobenstine has had a typical "Renaissance soul" career herself, as well as working with many others, so she's able to recount many encouraging and helpful anecdotes. For those of us who have grown frustrated with the "follow your passion" approach to career planning because we can't pin ourselves down to only one passion, it's great to know that we're not alone. And as her title implies, throughout much of human history, having multiple interests was considered an asset rather than a sign of "immaturity" or "inability to focus."

Her exercises (especially the "values" one) are very useful for self-understanding. She offers good advice about how to use your various skills and interests in the work world -- by finding (or creating) an "umbrella" job that covers a range of interests, or by being a serial monogamist in several fields, or by taking a J.O.B. that enables you to further your passions without locking you into an uncongenial career path. Finally, she provides a helpful reading list (although, having read many of the books on it, I've learned that most of them promote a "follow your bliss" viewpoint that assumes that everyone has a single passion in life).

I have some quibbles:
1. Lobenstine seems to feel that all "Renaissance souls" are fundamentally alike, so they'll all find the same type(s) of job congenial.
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Format: Hardcover
"Renaissance Souls love nothing better than to take on a new problem or situation and then dig into...until we master the challenge we've set for ourselves. And then, with fresh enthusiasm, we move on to another passion. We are lucky people who, if left to our own devices, are never bored for long." - Margaret Lobenstine

Do you resist confining yourself to just one hobby or career? Are bookstore and libraries candy stores to you? Do friends suggest that you become a contestant on game shows because you know "something about everything"? Are you capable of becoming passionately excited about a wide variety of subjects? Do you find yourself interrupting yourself, dropping one task to pick up another before it's done?

If any of these descriptions sound like you, then you're probably a Renaissance Soul. Unlike the Mozarts of the world who always knew what they wanted to do in life or enjoyed sticking to one discipline, Renaissance Souls are the Ben Franklins of the world. That is, we have many concurrent interests and the idea of settling on "just one" (or even two) makes us nervous and nauseous.

Most of the world operates on the idea that "settling on a career" or "getting focused" by steadily climbing the corporate ladder over decades is the "right"-and secure-way to live. However, for a Renaissance Soul to attempt to squeeze in such a confining mindset is almost like a living death.

Despite a long, proud history of inventiveness and cultural influence among the ranks of Renaissance Souls, parents, teachers, and the social climate at large insist that we are somehow defective. This often leaves us feeling discouraged, frustrated, and confused. Why are we like this?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Are you one of those people with a large and shifting set of interests? Never quite took to heart those well-meaning admonitions to settle down and focus on one thing? Now you can shuck the dilettante label and become, in Margaret Lobenstine's inspired phrase, a Renaissance Soul.

She's written a terrific book, practical, useful, easy to read. It identifies and serves people who refuse to be slotted by what they do to pick up a paycheck. After reassuring us that it's not aberrant or self-destructive to be among the multi-focused, Lobenstine shows us how to hone our many interests into four or so major Focal Points. But which four? you ask. Use the Ice Cream Sampler exercise to get past the fear of making forever commitments or the overwhelmed feeling that you have too many options. Once you've identified your Focal Point pursuits, Lobenstine shows you how to link up with people who can help you move forward. She's especially good on turning your day job from a soul-numbing slog into a springboard to advance your interests, and on networking your way to the knowledge you need to pursue your passions.

The book lays out proven techniques for organizing your time and juggling multiple interests. I particularly liked the reverse flowchart, which disassembles potentially overwhelming goals - starting an import/export business, for example - into smaller, actionable steps. The chapter devoted to younger Renaissance Souls contains useful ideas on managing college course loads and breaking into the work world. The final chapters include a sensitive look at psychological obstacles that can slow us up, and strategies for climbing over these self-created walls.

Margaret Lobenstine is the new patron saint of those whose life jounney compels them to wander down many different paths.
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