Bronson begins the book with people who have mostly been unsuccessful in answering their question, progesses to people who have answered the question somewhat but are still in a fairly ambiguous state, ending with people who appear to have answered the question as well as is possible. From the beginning character sketches he points out that people are rarely successful in making lots of money first and pursuing their dream second (they begin to like making money more than their dream), that fear or need to prove themselves of significantly hinders their pursuit, that stimulation is not necessarily satisfying, and that you need to follow your passions.
The second half of the book is mostly about people who, to some extant, have discovered who they are. Some discovered this in foreign countries, where the culture gave them opportunities or filled a need. Some identified their interest and took a risk, with enough perseverance to make it happen. Some took rather long detours before figuring it out. Some, including the author, needed to confront particular weaknesses in order to make it work. And some discovered that being a parent was really their calling.
What Should I Do With My Life? is a story of people’s search for meaning and happiness. It is a story that admits that this is a hard task, that probably we will make serious mistakes. Yet Bronson does give some directions, most notably that fear is our largest hinderance and that if we pursue a goal, we can usually make it happen. This is a book that challenges our lives, challenges us to live up to our potential, challenges us to dream our dreams. And it is a book that can give us the courage to become our dreams.
The choice of stories is very good and Bronson’s commentaries are well worth reading. Unfortunately it is a little hard to remember the principles through all the stories. Also, as a Christian, it was disturbing not to find our Creator anywhere in the book. If we were created by God, surely he would have something to say about our choices and dreams. Yet the book is silent on that point and, to my thinking, it leaft a disturbing void in me as I read it. Irregardless, it is definitely worth the time spent and I would recommend it to anyone who is unsure about their direction in life.