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Stuti's Review of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough by Adam Smiley Poswolsky


The questions about whether you're wasting your days. The guilt when you check your phone for an hour or two after coming home from your tiring job. What about all the creative projects you had in mind? Do you join the majority of adults and retire your imagination? When I worked at a library, these were the questions haunting my mind during my entire shift when I stumbled on this book in the "New Releases" shelves.


Adam Smiley Poswolky quit his administrative job at the Peace Corps to pursue freelance writing and other passions, like not-for-profit work, that had taken the backseat while he climbed the corporate ladder.

As a writer, knitter, photographer, musician, and college student who postponed everything, including school, in order to work two jobs, this resonated with me. Whatever your situation is career-wise, this book is worth a read. At a mere 192 pages, it goes by fast, but the lessons stay with you. Every morning, I picked it up to read a few pages to start my day by reminding myself of the choices that I needed to make.

The most important part of this book is that it never offers starry-eyed, "regret finances and pursue what you want to do!" advice, and it doesn't assume that you have a life passion. So many of us know that we can be passionate, but we're not sure what about. This book tackles that problem head on. Poswolky writes that life does not pave the same path for everyone; it's up to you to shape it.

Here is a summary of the book's main framework.

1. Invent Your Path

Poswolky writes of the differences between a career ladder mind-set and a lily pad mindset. One is about getting higher and higher, aiming for an arbitrary goal that might not even be in sight, while the other is about being dynamic and moving constantly, making each move in your career or life a goal.

2. Find Meaningful Work

I have been happiest when employed at not-for-profit organizations, like libraries or museums. The author says that we define meaning in our work and he give examples of both people who quit their jobs to pursue what they wanted to do all along and of people who kept their jobs but made time for their passions. Hearing both sides of that was convincing enough that we need to be active about these decisions.

3. Build a Life That Matters

We have to hustle persistently. Set goals and achieve them. The passion comes intermittently, but persistence shows up when you do. Also, you are not alone in your goals, whatever they are. There are people who are talented and will help you, whether that means partnering with you or talking to you. It's ridiculous how easy it is to communicate with professionals in your chosen field.

This book came to me at a time when I was (and still am) questioning all my choices and their long term repercussions. There's the fear of missing out and the guilt of wasted time. It's possible to say "It's just work." We just shut down the computer, lock the office doors, drive home, and forget about work and all the people we don't like at work. However, we spend at least half, if not most, of our waking ours making a living. It's dishonest to think we can ultimately detach the two spheres' influences on each other. This book helped me realize that it is okay and normal to worry about your life goals as long as the strife drives you do productive action.

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