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Published today: The Tyranny of Careers (and the Joy of Work)

The Tyranny of CareersSo today, the first of 2015, is publication day for The Tyranny of Careers. It’s been a long time coming – the friends who have been early readers of the book have probably lost faith that the work they put in would ever amount to anything.

For anyone new to this blog: The Tyranny of Careers is the careers advice I wish I had received when younger – the advice that was not available then and seems very rarely given now. It is a product of the fact that, of the happiest adults I know, hardly any are those with full-time careers working for someone else – the stated goal of all the useless careers advice that I received.

The book will, hopefully, provide comfort to both students and those already in full-time work – comfort about that niggling sense that a full-time career might not be the primary source of self-esteem and innovation it is held up to be by school, government and society in general. The reason being that, in my experience, it is not.

At the moment The Tyranny of Careers is only published as an ebook (yes, the picture makes it look like a physical book – it just looks better that way). At some point I hope to publish it as a physical one. I love physical books. If, like me, you are somewhat averse to ebooks, email me and tell me that you would have bought the book had you been able to hold it in your hands. (If I receive enough emails I’ll get on to printing some copies.)

Here’s the blurb that would appear on the back cover, if ebooks had back covers. More details about the book and how to buy it here. Or to see what it’s like you can download the whole introduction as a PDF.



‘Work hard at school, get a degree at university, find yourself a good career, and you will be happy. Your career will be your source of self-esteem and give you control of your life.’

This is the subtext of every piece of careers advice I ever heard. It is advice I believed implicitly, that I believed for years as I bounced between highly-prized careers in television, film and publishing. Careers prevented me from wondering why the promised self-esteem was not forthcoming, burdened as I was by the stress and overwork that are common features of the work culture of almost every career.

All I wanted was to do work where I felt my brain was not being wasted. But this only happened when I began to pursue work of my own. Unpaid, uncelebrated work. But work that felt valuable to me, that felt like it might contribute something of value to the work, even if that was way off in the future.

My younger self needed don’t-chase-a-career advice. The Tyranny of Careers is this kind of book. Partly a memoir of my misplaced search for a career, and partly what I’ve learnt about work despite this: that it is possible to earn a living without a full-time career, whilst also pursuing work that is truly fulfilling.

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