Do What You Want: The book that shows you how to create a career you’ll love by Nicholas Bate

Added this book to my Safari Books Online shelf, thought it might give me some ideas to help with figuring out what I want to do.

Read It or Leave It

Worth a breeze through, won’t change your life but has some good ideas and tools that are easily digestible.

Initial impressions

  • The title is a bit excessively wordy.
  • The book starts out with a nice overview and summary of what will be covered
  • The style is easy to read, not over complicated to seem more important
  • Some chapters have concise easy to reference summaries, this is really helpful
  • Each chapter has a section “May I ask a question” where the author poses and answers questions, I found these very annoying. Apparently the author thinks I’m pretty simplistic, maybe even a little dimwitted.


Much of the book wasn’t new or phrased in a new way, to get to people that haven’t seen this message already
The examples of people ‘getting things right’ seem to mostly involve these people investing a lot of time and energy, which isn’t, in my opinion, particularly good advice, rather I’d have focused more on the lateral thinking, and experimentation these example people employed, regardless of success or failure.

The later half of the book falls into a bit of a well of cliche. The examples given for these concepts are good, but the cliche distracts from the message, we don’t need a tag line or a sound bite, these should have just been omitted.

Core Concepts

Mindset, basically perception is reality, but you can influence your perception. And that influence can led you to better opportunities, more flexibility and more of what you want. Incidentally this is true in life, not just at work. Regularly review your mindset, your inner dialogue, is it helping you or holding you back?

Mechanics, what you do to apply your mindset to the world around you. Your strategies good and bad. Good advice here about looking around you, who is successful, why do you think that is. Observe and think about the world, figure out how you can fit in, mould what you want.


Money doesn’t satisfy it compensates, find out what types of work turn your crank, these are things to gravitate toward and you’ll be fulfilled regardless of the pay (to some degree)

Don’t multitask, this is a great point that I don’t see made enough. We really can’t multitask, focus on one thing for a specific period of time (or until a particular goal is met) then move to the next thing. Giving your full attention to what you are actually doing will mean you get it done faster and better.

There is a really good section on work-life balance in this book, what it really is and how to frame and create it.

Chapter 9 is a great coverage of how to figure out what you really want, and makes a great case for focusing on the journey instead of the job. Focus on living rather than getting closer to death. Use the principles of mindfulness to increase your enjoyment of all aspects of your life, and appreciation of what you have and are doing. Excellent tool in this section using a compass to help visualize and organize your current state/status

Understand how you are measured.


“There was a reason Personnel became Human Resources.” I’d never really put this together, in all the old-timer tv shows they did call it Personnel and now it’s Human Resources, interesting

“We are not here to judge whether that is good or bad; we are here to acknowledge the fact” this is very refreshing to see in this type of book, often the books and folks talking about this topic get lost in woe-is-me and hand wringing about how things used to be, how they really should be, none of which helps anyone.

Be your own business. I like this concept and it’s pretty well presented in this book. Think of yourself as a set of skills and attributes that you want someone to buy, what sets you apart from the folks that look just like you, what’s on your packaging to catch someone’s attention.

Think of ways to turn the chaos (seeming chaos) to your advantage. Globalization means you can look anywhere for work, participate and collaborate with people around the world. Look for the opportunities rather than dwelling on the scary and unknown.


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