The Pathless Path by Paul Millerd
The book in a few sentences
This book is about the following the pathless path which is an alternative to the default mindset of climbing the corporate ladder or job hopping. It's filled with inspirational stories (including the author's) about what it's like to define work and tailor it fit your life and personality.
I really liked this book, a lot of arguments for why we should be following the pathless path really resonated with me and it inspired me to reflect and think deeper about my own relationship with my work. In fact, I think a lot of it is what led me to start this website.
But Part 2, even though I liked the stories and it helped with my uncertainty, I wish it was more practical. Because a lot of the advice follows traditional start up advice.
Who Should Read It ?
It's for anyone who think that there should be more to work than their current 9-5 job.
How the Book Changed Me
It made me think about conducting more life experiments and that some times it's alright to just follow work that feels fun even though it may not feel productive.
Summary + Notes
A pathless path is a paradox: “we cannot even see it is there, and we do not recognize it.”
The pathless path is an alternative to the default path which is just to climb the corporate ladder or hop from one job to another. We keep moving from job to job or position to position to escape feeling stuck.
The default path works quite well which is why it's so hard to leave. but it might also mean you are not living the best life you can
The modern version of the default path was born after World War II, in a period of unprecedented economic growth.
This meant that people clung onto the default path because it worked to well in that era. They have this hope that doing the same thing again would mean they return to the former glory but worked then, won't work forever.
When I tried to talk about the incredible amount of time I was wasting on this project, people quickly redirected my inquiry, saying, “It may suck, but you’re getting something to put on your resume!” or “Everyone has to work, what are you supposed to do?” or “You should be grateful for being paid.” No one wanted to grapple with this fundamental question: “Why the hell are so many grown adults spending their time on obviously pointless tasks?”
I liked this quote a lot because it's hard for me to talk to my parents about work, when they just think I am lazy and should just work harder
Quitting your full time job should not be a single bold decision, it should be a slow awakening that you are not on the right path. That there must be something else, something better.
It's tempting to tell a simpler story but often journeys are not straight forward and people who see your own journey are tempted to be biased.
Like "Of course you were going to leave, you were always too smart for us" but in reality nothing is ever a sure thing.
Khe Hy, mentioned that the decision to leave your job is like a pebble in your shoe. It's just annoying enough to bother you but you might not do anything with it. Promotions and new positions will make that discomfort subside, but it comes back.
I liked feeling like a fool and the excitement that comes with learning something new. The only problem? I was miserable at my job.
I feel the same way too, but well I am not miserable at my job, I don't enjoy the corporate structure is imposed on my position.
Freudenberger asks two provocative questions: What if the value system of the institution is diametrically opposed to the values, ethics, and competencies of the individual professional?
What if the individual professional seeks to live up to the external, organizationally imposed criteria of what constitutes success and achievement, but is unable to do so?
Burnout is not only felt by those who work long hours but they can come from multiple forms, especially if you are spending the time and energy in a place you don't want to.
Our tendency to glorify and simplify stories of people quitting their jobs convinces far too many people that this move is only possible for uniquely courageous people.
It's important that quitting your job is to be done with a series of safe experiments and not with a single courageous decision. This actually scares me a lot about leaving work
Many people dislike some parts of their jobs. But they stay in their jobs because their suffering is familiar. To change would be to trade the known for the unknown and change brings discomfort in hard to predict forms.
Callard defines aspiration as the slow process of “trying on the values that we hope one day to possess.” This is in contrast to an ambitious journey where we already know what we value.
I feel this way a lot too, I am not sure what I would do if I were to leave, how would I earn the money I need to survive ?
It's important to surround yourself with like minded people, because you can learn a lot from them about their own path and how you might make yours. They may not be "friends" per say, but they could be people you look up to on social media