I’m a big fan of author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields, and I doubt this blog would even exist if I hadn’t discovered his book Career Renegade a few years ago.
After reading and massively identifying with the aforementioned Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People, I started looking for more, similar information. I can’t remember the exact path that led me to his blog and to downloading his free PDF The Firefly Manifesto, but I do know that I was blown away by the content and immediately pre-ordered Career Renegade (which at that point hadn’t yet been released).
By pre-ordering I also got access to something called Career Renegade Flight School which was a series of videos recorded by Fields to further illuminate the topics covered in the book, and made me feel a connection with him that the book wouldn’t have achieved alone. I also listened to his brilliant Renegade Profiles podcast series, which was my first introduction to people like Chris Guillebeau and other inspiring bloggers and creative entrepreneurs.
So, what’s so good about the manifesto/book?
Career Renegade came out at the height of the economic downturn. In the Firefly Manifesto however, Fields had a slightly different angle on things to the usual doom and gloom.
He proposed that being made redundant, whilst a painful and difficult process to go through, could have within it the seeds of opportunity. What better time to rebuild your career from the ground up, and make a living from doing something you enjoy?
Now I hadn’t been made redundant at the time, but after over a decade of jobs that had the opposite effect of making me want to leap out of bed in the morning, I was equally ready to try a different approach.
And what Career Renegade does is help you look at your creative talents/interests in a whole new way. It asks: how best can you use your talents to provide value to others? This is the key to making your creativity sought after, and rewarded financially, instead of ignored and keeping you poor. Here’s what Fields says:
The simple truth is that you can turn nearly any passion into a big, fat heap of money. However, it often requires mining aspects of those passions you never knew existed or bringing them to life in markets and ways that defy the mainstream.
At the time I was putting a lot of time outside of work into writing about local music and recording a podcast. But I wasn’t the only one – the number of people doing similar things was increasing all the time and soon I didn’t even feel that I was adding anything new to proceedings.
Not only was there a lot of competition, there was nobody there waving a cheque book and offering to pay me, and putting on gigs and running a record label felt too daunting a step to take.
I had never, ever been in it for the money, but as much as I enjoyed the camaraderie and community of what I was doing, it was taking up all of my time outside of work, and didn’t seem like it could lead to me leaving the job I was doing for something more suited to my talents and interests.
Basically, I needed this book.
How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love
Fields’ own story of going from high strung lawyer to yoga teacher and health club owner following a health scare has been well documented elsewhere, and is also outlined in the book. He also highlights several other real life examples of people who have found a lucrative outlet for their passions.
Fields argues that we all need a good standard of living, and being creative doesn’t mean we have to be completely broke all the time. Which was good news for me, as I have a mortgage to pay and shiny gadgets to buy…
The first step is to identify what you love to do. Here, he brings the concept of Flow into play, from the now much quoted book by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. To summarise this concept crudely, ask yourself what makes you lose track of time and lose yourself in the sheer enjoyment of it, because that’s probably what you were put on the earth to do. There is much more to it than that though, and he goes into further details in the book.
Secondly think about the people you want to have around you. This has a much bigger impact than most of us imagine on how much we enjoy our work/lives.
In the next stage, he talks about a variety of ways we can “move beyond the mainstream” and create a path for ourselves that will lead to us making a living doing what we love.
One of the best examples of this is how to “redeploy your passion in a market that places a higher value on it” – Fields shares the example of an artist who paints vineyards and sells them to the customers of the vineyard, thus targeting her paintings at an audience who are keen to buy them and have the means to do so, rather than letting them languish in her studio forevermore.
Now some might see this as selling out, and prefer to go down in history as the unappreciated genius who never sold a painting. Whilst that may not be as romantic, it does require a lifetime without recognition or reward, which doesn’t really sound that attractive to me – but whatever floats your boat.
The other topics covered are a lot to do with leveraging technology to both identify a market for what you do and to package your existing expertise in a way that’s desirable to other people. It’s a treasure trove of tips and insights and for me was a window into a whole other world of online opportunities and resources.
Almost singlehandedly, this book inspired me to completely change the way I thought about my writing and my work. For over a year I went heavily into R&D (research and development) mode and read a huge number of blog posts, books and info products, all of which provided more proof that making a living doing what you love is possible. Now I just had to take some action – not always my strong point.
Eventually however I have taken slow steps towards creating a more rewarding career. Of course I wouldn’t claim that it’s been an easy process or that I’m all the way there – as Fields himself puts it:
Creating your life and livelihood to deliver maximum passion and prosperity is a gargantuan challenge.
But since starting out on this path I’ve been promoted to a job where I work with the web and digital communications, started working as a freelance copywriter and have started this blog, so I have a lot to be thankful to Jonathan Fields for.
As do a lot of other bloggers and creative types – I’ve seen his book mentioned many times by other people I admire as being a key inspiration to them also. Of course that just means that the competition out there is even greater than ever. So what are you waiting for?
Do you feel it’s possible to earn a decent living doing something you love? Have you read the book or do you intend to? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Download the free Firefly Manifesto (updated version)
Buy Career Renegade at Amazon.com: paperback | Kindle edition
or Amazon.co.uk: paperback | Kindle edition
And look out for the next book from this author on the topic of turning uncertainty into creative success which is due out later this year.
Disclaimer: This page is littered with affiliate links, which means when you buy the book I get a small percentage of the profit. And by small, I mean miniscule, e.g. if 100,000 people were to buy a book via one of my affiliate links, I might be able to buy an iPad (this is not based on any actual calculation).
4 replies on “Clear-Minded Classic #5: Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields”
Milo – always get excited seeing a book review of a book I haven’t read but heard a lot about. I’m thinking – great – don’t have to read that book. But ultimately, no matter how good the review, ‘ugh, I have to go buy that book!?!’ WHich I will now since it made such an impact on you.
A critical thing about doing what we love is getting paid for it. We just have to think about it strategically as we are pursuing our passions. People get confused about hobbies and businesses, right? They key to the second is seeing real currency:)
Hi Vishnu, thanks for the comment! Yes the blog post would have been a lot longer if I’d tried to summarise everything in the book, but it is a nice easy read, not a huge volume if that helps..
Quite right about the currency thing. It means being brutally realistic about what works and what doesn’t I guess, until you do see some money coming in… (if that’s what you want)
It’s interesting to read these book reviews, not least because normally I would see such a thing in the shops and think “yeah, yeah”. I tend to get a bit cynical about books that seem to promise the Earth, so I really appreciate you sharing your experience and what you’ve learnt from them.
I’ve always thought you shouldn’t need people to tell you how to do things in the mistaken belief that God-given natural creative talent will always win through, but I can’t help but notice that I really feel I’ve started to achieve something since listening to the advice and experiences of others!
Hi Paul I can understand your cynicism. That’s why I like finding such things via the internet so much – you can read someone’s blog and get an idea whether they’re genuine or not, and have anything to offer. In the case of Jonathan Fields he is definitely the real deal and this was a great way to find out about how other creative people were making money with their talents.
Glad you are moving ahead yourself with the advice of others, I think it can save a massive amount of time to learn from people who’ve already been successful. Though I find it is definitely a cyclical process – one minute I feel like I’ve got somewhere, the next minute i feel like I’m back to square one. But usually, there has been a progression and I need to remind myself of that!