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The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them: An Introduction to Life/Work Planning Paperback – August 1, 1981


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; First Thus edition (August 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913668583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913668580
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

RICHARD N. BOLLES has been a leader in the career development field for more than thirty-five years. He was trained in chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a bachelor's degree cum laude in physics from Harvard University and a master's in sacred theology from General Theological (Episcopal) Seminary in New York City. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Marci.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 77 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on June 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when it had been out only a few years, and it turned my head around. I had been brought up, like most children of the 'fifties, to think of life as a series of rigidly defined serial roles: first you were a student, then you were a worker, and finally you retired and got to do all the fun things you'd been putting off for the past 40-odd years. Having worked my way through graduate school, and done a bit of traveling in the process, I of course knew how artificial these distinctions were -- but I still tended to feel vaguely guilty about my "immature" lifestyle and rebuke myself for not "settling down" like a Real Grownup was "supposed to." Bolles set me straight -- in fact I was doing a pretty good job of balancing growth, work, and leisure in my life, and had nothing to be ashamed of. My subsequent work history has borne out the wisdom of his advice: I've been happiest and most productive when my life achieves that same balance; the most miserable time of my life was the nine-year period when I succumbed to the siren song of Silicon Valley and became a money-obsessed workaholic. This is a terrific book, and one that bears rereading every few years, especially when you feel your life slipping out of balance.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Robert H. Nunnally Jr. on January 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bolles' What Colour is Your Parachute? has, in the short time since its release, become a classic in how to find a job. The Three Boxes is a related but rather different work. The author takes on the broader issues of life planning, which includes not only career, but also educational and personal planning. In some ways, this book is a rebuttal to the traditional college/career/retirement paradigm by showing that people don't have to (and,for that matter, won't even if they wished to) live their lives in the traditional career path straitjacket. The tone of the work is thoughtful but practical.
A lot of self-help oriented material nowadays seems to focus on mustering your potential to achieve your dreams. These works have their place, but they fail to answer a preliminary question--how does one know what one wants from life?
The Three Boxes is about the task of actually figuring out what you want, and then implementing what you want. It's remarkably free of needless fluff about the inner person, while filled with practical ideas on "breaking out" of the "traps" of modern career life.
This is a book to own. It's an easy and thought-provoking read, presented in light style with interesting graphics.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. Hildebrand on November 2, 1997
Format: Paperback
In a time when simplifying one's life, finding satisfaction and mission, and creating meaning are dominant issues for baby boomers and gen-x alike, this text is an unerring guide. Bolles patiently walks you through the process of evaluating and considering the roles of learning, working, and playing in your life. Constructing the optimal balance of those roles - the "three boxes" of the title - is up to you, but his guidance provides a starting place. This is a book I re-read, and re-consider, every two or three years.
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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Erin Campbell on April 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Richard Bolles has a delightful writing style and a light touch for addressing some of the most profound issues of our lives. I bought this book because of how much I enjoyed Bolles' treatment of job hunting in "What Color is Your Parachute?" Unlike "What Color," which has been constantly updated and revised to reflect the changing realities of the job market, "The Three Boxes" was written for a mid-70's audience and does not address the new realities faced by people in the 21st century. When Bolles wrote this, his (younger) audience was likely idealistic college students ready to join the Peace Corps and forgo material gratification for the sake of larger social issues. Today's college grads seem to be bent on amassing huge fortunes very quickly, even at the expense of their social and personal lives. This book is written for people of all ages, but this is just an example of how far priorities and attitudes have changed. I hope Bolles updates this book since it hits on very important life issues, but I find this edition has lost much of its relevance as our society has changed dramatically.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James I. Burns on March 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Richard Bolles writes a book that is better than his classic "What Color is Your Parachute?"

The three boxes (education, career, and retirement) are re-examined by the master himself. Don't view these three important aspects of your life as part of a linear progression.

Eat dessert first! Based on the advice from this book, I re-arranged my life pursuits and priorities. Enjoy !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By hskydg80 on March 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great concepts, just 30 years old, as are the sources pointed to in the book for more information. Concept of balancing education, work and leisure throughout life rather than overloading in each time periods is major point of book. Could see an update from interested writer to apply timeless principals to today's technology.
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