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I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0142002483
ISBN-10: 0142002488
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Close your eyes and…imagine what it would feel like to be happy and excited and fulfilled in your work." Can’t do it? Career coach Jansen’s no-nonsense volume just might help. Herself a former disgruntled employee (she worked in broadcasting, recruiting, outplacement and other fields), Jansen is a big proponent of jobs that suit: work, after all, "is not ‘one size fits all.’" She identifies six reasons people find their employ unsatisfying, from boredom with an overly familiar routine, to insecurity in the face of discrimination or a toxic boss, to lack of focus on work due to an eye on upcoming retirement. Several quizzes and questionnaires ("When you think about the things you find meaningful, what comes to mind?"; "Do you prefer to be the leader rather than have others lead"?) help readers identify their job problems and the kinds of work they might find more meaningful, as well as build confidence in their choices. Jansen offers stories of those who made the career change successfully (or in some cases, found a way to renew their interest in their old positions) as well as guidelines for becoming more entrepreneurial. Her advice is seasoned and her tone encouraging, making this a solid resource for people who know they don’t like what they do; it might also be a wakeup call for others numbed into job complacency.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A must-read for anyone who is working and feeling dissatisfied, unfulfilled or unhappy with their current work situation. -- Paul Tieger, author of Do What You Are

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (January 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002483
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,231,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Punkert on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ever looked around at what you're doing at work and wondered how on earth you got to this awful place where you hate getting out of bed in the morning? Ever feel like there's something about your so-called 'successful career' that makes you feel vaguely rotten inside? Feel like what you really wanted to be when you grew up got lost somewhere along the way?
Through a series of exercises, Julie Jensen helps you rediscover your values and passions, and to see why where you are right now is so frustrating. This book isn't about finding a job, it's more about defining yourself and seeing where you shine and where you don't.
She categorizes people 'stuck' in their careers into six types (Where's the Meaning, Been there, Done that, Need the Money, Bored and Plateaued, Bruised and Gunshy, One Toe in the Retirement Pool), and then works through specific exercises to help those archetypes set goals that will move them towards more connection in their life.
The book is nice in that it isn't all about having to be an entrepreneur to be happy. Most find-yourself-through-your-career books push entrepreneurship really hard and completely devalidate the whole work concept. Jensen suggests that working for someone else is fine, but making sure your needs are met is important. Many books about career change are horribly vague about how to figure out what you want to do. Jensen provides concrete exercises and examples of how people applied what they learned.
The biggest problem I had was trying to fit myself into an archetype, since I honestly fit into three or four of them. But everything in the book is useful, even if you may not immediately think it applies to your situation.
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Format: Paperback
This is THE book you MUST read if you are a victim of a layoff or pondering "What do I truly want to do with the rest of my work life?". As a maniacal researcher and reader, I bought and borrowed dozens of job search/career change books; none came close to the results I achieved from Julie Jansen's step-by-step, no-nonsense guide.
Within 3 weeks of completing this book, I am now employed in my dream job; a job that came true because of the many exercises that are used in "I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This."
Ms. Jansen's guide will have you writing notes to yourself, staying up late dreaming about the life you really want to have, and getting up early to implement the suggestions that are found througout this classic book.
Do yourself a huge favor: stop searching the web, stop browsing at the bookstore, and simply order this book NOW!
P.S. As part of my severance package, I worked with a world-famous outplacement firm. This book was so responsible for my successful career change, that I strongly advised the outplacement firm to make Julie's book mandatory reading for all new clients!
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Format: Paperback
Most of the material in this book is obvious, trivial, or both. Whatever is left has been better covered even in "starter" career books like What Color Is Your Parachute.

I bought this together with several other career change books, including Is Your Genius at Work (Dick Richards), Working Identity (Herminia Ibarra), Finding Your North Star (Martha Beck), and Do What You Are (Paul & Barbara Tieger). I Don't Know What I Want was the only disappointment. The assessment section is a joke, while the advice for individuals with different motivations to change careers appears to be written at an introductory level more suitable to somebody who's starting their first career (in which case see my comment above about What Color Is Your Parachute). All the other books I've mentioned provide either an in-depth method of self-assessment helpful in developing a plan of action, or information about the job search process that hasn't been published in popular magazines; some of them provide both.

It's not worth the bother to return it, but I don't see myself keeping it around or recommending it to friends.
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Format: Paperback
I have been in the same career since 1987 (I am an airline pilot), and have been seriously considering a change for the last five years. Many of the reasons I have been considering a career change (mismanagement and economic disaster in my industry, lack of long-term career prospects, lack of respect, and boredom, to name but a few) are directly addressed in this book. The book is primarily geared to mid-career professionals, but I think it is applicable to any situation in which a fairly radical career shift is being considered. Because of the author's background, human resources, accounting and similar occupations are most frequently cited in the examples, but the principles apply to other occupations equally well.

The book is easy to read, but sometimes is time consuming due to the exercises, which are frequent and detailed. To really get the most out of the book, the exercises must be done, although I confess to not doing all of them the first time through the book myself. Even without the exercises, though, the concepts in the book are enormously helpful in focusing a job hunter. Although the author breaks career changers into six primary groups, you may very well find yourself in more than one category as I did. That's not a bad thing, and in fact, in my case it helped me consider facets of my career desires that I had not previously contemplated.

One of the things that Jansen does very well is realistically quantifying tolerance for risk, and that is especially well conceived in chapter seven "Yearning to be on Your Own," in which starting your own business and entrepreneurship are covered.
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