How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life (next) offers real-life advice, stories and tasks to help you find happiness in your job

Hi Jennifer,

Congratulations on your book How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life (next) “An amazing and brilliant instruction manual on how to find purpose, build a career and live a life of fulfillment,” according to Deepak Chopra.

Q. The book came about after you published an article about a similar topic that appeared in Forbes. That article has been viewed more than 1.5 million times and you received, and still receive, great feedback. When did you realize your book was needed? Why?

A. I realized that the book was needed when I would talk to people and realize that there were so many people not in the career place they wanted or needed to be. I knew what it was like to feel like you were just going through the motions. I didn’t like to feel that way and I didn’t think anyone else did. The problem was that no one was really telling them that they had options. I realized I could provide those options, based on my experience, and give them a road map to make the right career choice. Even if I could just help one person, I knew it was the right thing to do.

Q. How long did it take from realization to actually writing it? How long did it take from writing to publishing?

A. It took a couple years. Most of it was written over the course of nine months, as part of my writing group (three hours per week). It took a while to start writing because I had self-doubt and wasn’t sure how to get started and didn’t know if I could do it. Reading books about writing really helped.

I have found it very helpful in my writing to form a writing group. But not the type of writing group that you might think of. My writing group consists mostly of/only writing and we rarely, if ever, share our work with each other. It is more like the co-writing group where we get together and write at the same time, thereby keeping each other accountable — with breaks in between. Here is the description of my writing group. I got most of the writing done for my first book over a nine-month period of attending.

What: We Write! The schedule is a mix of writing and breaks, for a mix of fun and productivity. Bring a creative writing project that you are working on.

Where: <location>
When: See date schedule, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Who: Invite-only – all new members must be passed through <>
How (Schedule):
7 to 7:30 p.m. – soft start (people arrive), mix and mingle
7:30 to 8 p.m. – write
8 to 8:15 p.m. – break
8:15 to 8:45 p.m. – write
8:45 to 9 p.m. – break
9 to 9:30 p.m. – write
9:30 to 10 p.m. – chit chat, pack up, head out
See you there!
Rules: No talking or being distracting during writing sessions. If you do not follow the rules, you will be removed from the group. This is to maintain a professional and productive group.

Front cover of Jennifer Turliuk's How to Figure Out What to Do with your Life (next) book.

Q. Why did you decide on the format that you have chosen? What is the benefit of writing it this way? Was there a lot of changes from book pitched to the book we see in our hands today?

A. Hundreds of people emailed me after my Forbes article asking for more information about my process. So, I wanted to put it in the book. It’s a non-fiction and contains personal stories, which is useful because the reader can see examples. There were not many changes from the first draft to the final – a few chapters disappeared in editing, and of course a lot of spelling and grammar – but overall, not a huge amount.

Q. What was the main purpose of this book? How will it help people figure out what they should do with their lives?

A. The main purpose of this book was to show people that if they were feeling like they made a mistake with their career choice, there was no such thing. Making what felt like a mistake actually helped or will help them find what they were meant to do. It’s like the analogy when one door closes, another opens. Sometimes the door closes on its own or sometimes you have to close it yourself. Whatever the case, it’s a good thing.

I hope my book will help people figure out what they want to do with their lives by giving them valuable information about how to find that new career. I also want to reassure them that if you feel lost, there’s always another route home. You just have to take the time to find it.

Q. In the introduction of your book, you mention that 75 per cent of Canadians are dissatisfied with their jobs. Why do you think that number is so high? Why is it important for people themselves to find happiness in their jobs? Why is it important for employers to have happy employees?

A. It’s hard to say why so many Canadians are dissatisfied. Everyone has their reasons. But some may have followed a path that someone else carved out for them instead of choosing the one they should have carved for themselves. Others may have thought it was the best job for them and realized it wasn’t once they actually started doing it. They may not have researched it enough or observed it enough.

I think it’s important for people to find happiness in their jobs because if they’re not happy at work, they’re not going to be happy at home or during any other aspects of their lives. Everything goes hand in hand. When one piece doesn’t fit, you can’t complete the puzzle.

Also, life is too short to be stuck in a job you absolutely hate.
You deserve to be happy at work. This way it may
also not feel like work as much.

Jennifer Turliuk

Employers need to have happy employees because they will be more productive, which will be better for the business. When people are unhappy, their productivity is low. They don’t want to contribute because they don’t even want to be at work.

Q. You offer suggestions on how people can figure out the job that is right for them, including informational interviews and shadowing people whose jobs you would like. Many of the suggestions you offer are things you tried yourself. In researching the book,  did you find other solutions that you wish you had of tried yourself?

A. I heard about Sean Aiken who tried 52 jobs in 52 weeks for a week each. That sounded cool!

Q. What advice would you give to people who may be at a different stage in their life in regard to some of the tips you offer?

A. I would say that you don’t need to make the change overnight. Change takes time. Do your best. Maybe you can find a way to make your new career a side hustle for now until you can make it be your main source of income. Maybe you can intern or job shadow to get experience so that making the transition is more profitable. There are many ways to do it if you have the drive and the passion. You have to take the initiative because no one is going to do it for you.

Q. If you could give career seekers one piece of advice what would it be?

A. Find your passion because there lies your best career choice.

Jennifer Turliuk

Q. Why should people buy your book?

A. People should buy my book if they want real career advice from someone who has been right where they are. I also provide a good roadmap to help them get to where they want and need to be.

Q. What does this career book have that other books do not?

A. This career book tells it like it is, no sugarcoating. While I want people to feel like they have support, I also want them to know that they need to do some work if they want to find their true calling. It applies principles from quantified self, design thinking and lean methodology to career selection for a semi-scientific approach that helps optimize and speed up the process of finding a career you love.

Q. At the end of reading this book, what do you think and/or hope readers will learn?

A. I hope readers will learn that they don’t need to be stuck in a job they hate for their whole lives. They have options. They just need to look for them and be open to working for them.

Q. What is the one takeaway from this book?

A. The one takeaway from this book is to be open to new careers, even ones that you may have brushed off before. Sometimes, it’s the one you think may not fit, that ends up being the best.

Q. In addition to being a writer, entrepreneur and speaker, you are also the CEO of MakerKids, the first and largest maker space for kids, among other things. You have two other books: The Maker Kid and Every Child a Maker. Did you write Every Child a Maker? s

A. I wrote parts of it, and my amazing colleague Kristina Cappetta wrote a lot of it.

Q. You have had a varied career and you seem to be doing the things you love. In your book you talk about the importance of loving your job (and not feeling the need to change it simply because you are loving it and it’s easy. I loved that part). What would make you want to make changes in your professional life?

A. If I woke up one day and realized that I hated my job. I’ve been down that road before and I know it isn’t fun. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation again.

Q. Is there something you haven’t yet done that you want to do? Explain?
A. Travel to India.

Q. Anything else you would like to say?

A. Just that I hope that my book can at least touch one person and impact their lives for the better. If I can help more people, even better. But, knowing that I had a positive influence on someone is extremely gratifying.

Jennifer Turliuk