Where Will Your Roadmap Take You?

Image: Chronicle Books
Image: Chronicle Books.

What is it that makes you happy?

I came into my own during the What Color Is Your Parachute? generation, or at least at the tail end of it. When I wasn’t sure what to do with my life, career-wise, I got a copy of that book and worked my way through it. It wasn’t much help. See, I didn’t know what made me tick yet. I didn’t know what I was passionate about. I couldn’t even identify my hobbies. One of the hazards about being a Jane of All Trades, Mistress of None, is that your interests and talents aren’t always clearly identified. It is often only clear in hindsight.

I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was in my thirties. Like, my mid-thirties. Now that I’m in my early forties, I know what my short- and long-term life goals are, so I’m pretty well set there. A lot of experimenting and thinking helped me figure it out. But what about my kids? One of them has very clearly defined interests. The other one, definitely not. But both of them can benefit from some direction, some help along the way, and some encouragement to realize that life’s a journey. Everything you do along the way counts.

I recently learned about a book called Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do With Your Life, by the people who created the documentary series Roadtrip Nation. The book’s premise is that it exists to help people find their own road in life, find one that fits them and their needs, wants, and desires, and is decided upon by both their head and their heart.

The book begins by encouraging people to figure out if they are doing what they do because they want to be doing it, or because everyone else is doing it and it’s what is expected of them. Then it moves on to talk about the external “noises” in life, and helps readers decide which noises to listen to and which to ignore.

Later chapters have titles with clear purposes, such as “Build a Life, Not a Resume,” “Life Is Linear Only in the Rearview Mirror,” “Pursue Your Interests—Not an Occupation,” “Risk or Regret? You Choose,” and “When to Veer and When to U-Turn.” Each chapter includes really useful information about finding your own way in life that helps you create a personally fulfilling path. Dozens of people were interviewed for their stories, and URLs are given for reading more of those people’s experiences. Most chapters also include an exercise or two to help you hone your direction and make good decisions for yourself. Quotations and sidebars also help inspire, and give concrete examples of how you don’t need to have a cookie cutter life—unless that’s what you want, of course.

The back of the book contains seven projects that help you create your own path. The projects include things like blogging your interests, selling your goods and services online, traveling, and talking to someone who is already living your Roadmap. This pretty much describes the route I took to self-discovery, but I had to figure it all out the hard way. This book can be your guide.

This video gives a very small glimpse into the television show, and the idea behind it all.

The book also includes a limited membership to the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive, where you can watch video interviews with thousands of people who have built their lives around their interests. You access this archive with a special code printed in your book.

This is your life, after all. Not anyone else’s. Live your life for yourself. Don’t live someone else’s life. If you are living your passions and someone tells you that you’re doing it wrong, they obviously don’t know you very well.

Roadmap retails for $14.45 and comes out on April 7. I recommend this book to everyone. Seriously. Everyone. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your new graduate. Buy it for your high schooler. Buy it for your retiree parents. Finding your own path is that important, and it’s never too late. Our world needs a variety of thinkers and doers. Including you.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.