Transition into Tech
Big magic book

Big magic: creative living beyond fear (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Today’s review covers a slightly different kind of read. ‘Big magic’, by Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, the very one – the bestselling author of ‘Eat. Pray. Love’), is a page turner. I can’t quite put my finger on it: is it fiction? Non fiction? A memoir? I think bookstores would carry it under Fiction, though, and I know what you’re thinking (I actually thought it too): non fiction book called ‘Big magic’? Please!! But bear with me.

The book is about the creative process, and, as such, you’re probably wondering if I went mental. Why else would I include a read on Big magic, of all things, on a site about transitioning into tech, right?


HOW is ‘Big magic’ relevant to career transitions?

Yes, it is all about the creative process – and I submit to you that it applies to the process of reinventing yourself, and to the actual work you might end up doing. Tech is… well, techy, but there’s so much room – need, even – for creativity in most tech jobs, that I feel super comfortable including it here. Think Steve Jobs, and that should do.

You see, the old saying about ‘all work, no play’ applies here. All tech, no play… We must make time for a read for the soul, especially when it turns out to deliver sound professional advice too! The books is particularly relevant when it comes to tech work, because tech is a problem-solving field. And boy, with the problems we face today, do we need creativity to deploy solutions!!

So here’s the lens I want you to put on when reading it. Think of your career transition as your creative process. One of self discovery, of transformation. And then let the book work its Big magic on you.

Key takeaway – rein your fear in

The part that spoke the most to me – and I think it would speak to you too – discussed the big role FEAR plays in our lives, in our decision-making, in our career-choices. In our career transitions. She explains how feat is a feature, not a bug; it’s there to keep the species going, so you’re stuck with it.

Big magic quote

So what to do in the face of fear? Understand it’s there for the long haul; welcome it, acknowledge its presence, but don’t empower it. Make place for it, but put it in its place. Don’t allow it anywhere near your life control centre, especially don’t let it take the reins. Or as Gilbert says, allow it a seat at the table, a voice, but not a vote.

It isn’t always comfortable or easy—carrying your fear around with you on your great and ambitious road trip—but it’s always worth it, because if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting. And that would be a pity, because your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.

Elizabeth Gilbert

The opposite of fear, she says, is not fearlessness, but courage. Courage to do it anyway, in spite of. Courage to hang in there, through rejection, criticism and even self doubt. And the way you do that is by ensuring your passion, your drive, your curiosity greater than your fear.

The remaining parts of the book are equally inspiring, and if you keep on the lens of your own transformation as a creative process, you’ll realise the wisdom in her words. She talks about the value of humility and gratitude, life-long learning, risk taking, passion, persistence, the perils of perfectionism, working at your passion in your spare time, the value of giving yourself a permission slip 🙂 and so much more. These can all be read in key of a career transition.

Over the years, I found that if I just stayed with the process and didn’t panic, I could pass safely through each stage of anxiety and on to the next level.

Elizabeth Gilbert

This is likely to help you out a lot. As you embark on a learning journey that you know nothing to very little about – chances are there will be moments of doubts, moments ridden by anxiety. Remembering that if you just hang in there you’ll come out stronger the other side will definitely come in handy.

So be sure to read ‘Big magic’. You’ll find it not just a thoroughly enjoyable read, but also solid food for thought, where your career transition is concerned but also beyond. The whole in an empathetic, caring and generous voice. And if you wish to step up the enjoyment, watch her speech I post below here – it’ll help you hear her voice and her quirky humour as you read.

Book contents

1. Courage
2. Enchantment
3. Permission
4. Persistence
5. Trust
6. Divinity

So, before you go – here’s her Ted Talk. It dates back to…. forever, but it’s still as good today as it was when she delivered it, as confirmed by the 4+ million views:

I’d love to hear what you think if you decide to read it. I’m pretty sure you can find Big Magic in your local independent bookstore. It’s also available on Amazon, of course. Or you can read it, like I did, on Scribd.

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