Title: The Anti 9 to 5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube
Author: Michelle Goodman
Release Date: January 2007
Publisher: Seal Press
Source: Personal collection
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Michelle Goodman offers solid advice geared to women who want to work in nontraditional jobs but don’t know where to begin. Drawing from her years as a freelancer, Goodman suggests practical, step-by-step changes one can make over time so that a transition to the entrepreneurial life doesn’t lead you back to your parents’ couch. Particularly salient in our troubled economy, The Anti 9 to 5 Guide should be consulted by anyone contemplating “life outside the cube.”
Goodman begins by relating how she began freelancing. She was tired of the hours she spent in a cubicle, staring at a computer, doing work that gave her no satisfaction. So she quit. However, bills still come to those pursuing their dreams, and Goodman acquired a nice chunk of credit card debt as she built her now-successful freelancing career. The advice that she offers in her book is meant for like-minded women to experience similar success without the pitfalls Goodman discovered.
Goodman advises getting your feet wet in your hobby-job before diving in headfirst—particularly if you have a mate, children, or pets that depend on you for food and shelter. She approaches broad topics such as figuring out what exactly you want to do; breaking into that industry; and making the time in your daily life to do so. She then explains the finer nuances of moving toward your dream: asking for a flexible work schedule at your 9-to-5; working from home; running your own business; pursuing activities that are meaningful both professionally and personally; and pursuing an unconventional or male-dominated career.
At every step of the way, Goodman offers practical tips to maneuvering the technical details of launching an unconventional career (taxes, legal matters, wages—you know, the little things). At the end of each chapter, she also presents you with a checklist for conquering that lesson in small steps. Rather than trying to impose her own idea of a timeline, she suggests that you set goals that are achievable and comfortable for you. Plunging into the world of an alternative career is hard enough, and you need to do it at your own pace.
The book offers easy, step-by-step advice for stepping out of your daily routine to try out new careers that may make you happy without making you go broke. Goodman advises that you establish your new business on the side first. Though that eats into your personal time, it also allows you to keep a paying gig—and if this is a job that you truly love, the sacrifice will not seem so great. If, after several months, your new career makes you happy and begins to pay the bills, then you are free to take the next step, whatever that may be.
One of the most valuable aspects of the book is that it takes seriously the idea that not all were built for performance reviews and public transportation, and it acknowledges that everyone’s dream—and how they attain it—will be different. Goodman offers advice as varied as the careers that women dream of while staying relevant. Though she discusses potential pitfalls of many unconventional careers, such as what to do at about harassment at your male-centric job, her advice to do research first and to keep a cool head is applicable in any career path. Short and sweet appendices include guides to negotiating pay; temping; setting up a business; and an exhaustive list to resources on nearly any obstacle you will face.
I would recommend this book to anyone (not just women) contemplating a career outside of the norm. After reading this book, I realized that though the freelance work I was doing was bringing in good money, it was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was putting my true dream on the shelf by filling my time with freelance work I thought liked because it paid well, not because I enjoyed it. Goodman’s advice to take slow steps that will have a minimal impact on your income was particularly relevant to me; if I’d quit my job immediately to pursue that freelance work, I would have found myself stuck in another unhappy career. However, by taking it slow and looking at all the angles of your dream, you will reduce your risk and maximize your returns—a solid business model no matter which career you choose!
Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Seattle. She attended the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. For more by Michelle, check out her website, also titled The Anti 9 to 5 Guide.
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