Jef Akst

DIY Medicine

Mindshift: A Book Review

A good read if you’re considering a career change, or even if you’re not

Posted Apr 14, 2017

Source: Publisher: TarcherPerigee

On page 5 of Mindshift, scheduled to be released next week (April 18), Barbara Oakley lists some reasons a reader might be interested in knowing how to embrace a career change. You’ve been laid off; you hate your boss; you never really found your passion; you want to make more money. I fit none of these categories. I had already been through my mindshift (which Oakley defines as “a deep change in life that occurs thanks to learning), I thought—eight years ago when I transitioned from academic scientific research to science journalism. At this point, this book clearly wasn’t meant for me. I love my job and have no plans to leave it. She almost lost me.

Then she provided one last category of potential reader: “Maybe you love your work, but you just feel there’s something more.” OK, I might feel that way sometimes. And if I’m being honest, I don’t see myself in my current position until retirement, so at some point, I will be looking for a change of scenery. I decided to keep reading, and I’m so glad I did.

Mindshift is full of heartwarming stories told in effortless, page-turning prose. They are the stories of people who, for various reasons, underwent major shifts in their lives and had to learn new skills to succeed. These stories held my attention, and before long, I was fantasizing about my next move, and thinking about the steps I might take now to make the transition easier when the time comes.

In addition to the wonderfully entertaining stories that fill the pages of Mindshift, Oakley provides practical advice that she learned from her sources, as well as exercises for readers to try on their own time. I have to admit, I initially judged it as just another self-help book when I first came across the elements. But Oakley warns against that early in the book, and given my own shift from thinking that this book wasn’t for me to really taking the stories and lessons to heart, I have to agree. We can all use a little help sometimes, and when it comes packaged in a fun read like Mindshift, it’s actually a wonderful resource. Even if the bullet pointed tips and the boxed exercises aren’t for you, the format of Mindshift is such that you can easily skip over those to the next personal story; you can take what you want, leave what you don’t.

In short, Mindshift not only got me thinking about when and how I might make the next major change in my life—and what that change might be—it taught me to be open to learning new life skills even when I don’t think I’m in a position to need them, and open to learning how I might become a better learner. So, my advice to you: Wherever you are in your personal and professional life, give Mindshift—and mindshifts—a shot. You might just find some inspiration, whether you’re looking for it or not.

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