Tag Archives: books on career change

Must Read: How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up


I was turned on to this book by one of my clients. Emilie Wapnick’s book, How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up. This particular client is the epitome of “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. In her late fifties, she has been gainfully employed for 15 years through a government agency but has been unhappy at her job for the past 10 years of it. Looking to transition from just a job to a career, she made a conscious choice at the time to pursue work with the government and was successful in landing what she thought was her dream job. Now edging closer to retirement, she has a multitude of outside interests that she has pursued in her free time and realistically can utilize should she ever leave her job, but she is still wavering as to what is her next career move.

What attracted me to this book was the term ‘multipotentialite’ coined to describe “someone with many interests and creative pursuits”. I was intrigued by this definition because it describes so many individuals who hold diverse interests related to the job market and outside the workplace. This accurately describes many of my clients: employed for their expertise in certain areas but talented in so many others and frequently have a desire to break free of what is expected and cross the road to doing something they are passionate about.

The author offers insight into different options to describe multipotentialite personality variations including Polymath, Renaissance Person, Jack-Of-All-Trades, Generalist, and Scanner. However, further into the narrative, I did find myself objecting when the author described a multipotentialite as someone who changes jobs often. In my experience, this is not always the case. For example my client in point: she has longevity with her current employer and stayed employed with her past employers for a number of years.

The author nails it when she describes the dilemma that many individuals face, and in my opinion which high school students grapple with: “You are allowed one identity in this life, so which is it?” This describes many mid-career professionals who embarked on a specific career path when they entered the workforce in their early 20s and are no longer interested in their initial vocation.
I appreciated that the author validated that it is okay to be a multipotentialite. Let’s face it: as humans we are very multi-dimensional and switch hats each day to meet the needs of our job and personal life.

The book builds on some tested theories and questions for exploration including, what are some of your whys, and what does your perfect day look like? The latter half of the book introduces four work models that will appeal to the multipotentialite seeking to discover their fit in the workplace. It then expands on this information giving each model its own chapter encompassing strategies, worksheets, tips, and summarized key points from each chapter.

After reading this book, I applaud the author for identifying the ‘multipotentialite’ segment of the population and acknowledging that individuals are not always built to follow a traditional employment trajectory. The reader gains a better understanding of their ‘multipotentialite’ personality and its uniqueness and now has some tools to make this personality characteristic work for them in the job market arena.

This is a great read! Click on the cover image to go to order your copy from Amazon.ca