Quick Summary: How will you measure your life by Clayton M. Christensen focuses on how one can live a fulfilled life and achieve happiness in both their professional and personal lives. It also discusses various theories and traps that people fall into and suffer a significant loss.
Who Should You Read ‘How Will You Measure Your Life Summary,’ And Why?
Why do you think this happens? There are various factors behind this like economy, competition, etc.
But most of the time, this happens because people don’t set the right strategy for their career. Again, this happens due to a lack of proper mindset.
People either give their 100 percent in their professional lives and fail terribly at relationships.
Or they become good at relationships and keep struggling in building a sustainable career.
In this book, the author has discussed why balancing both the professional and the personal aspects of life is essential.
Who would I recommend this summary?
How Will You Measure Your Life Summary (PDF)
In this summary, I’ll share all the lessons that I learned.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Define Your Career Strategy
Most people navigate their lives without any plan. And no doubt, most people start building a career without any solid strategy in place.
Why having a strategy is important? A strategy helps you in clearing your head. And a clear head helps in accomplishing your goals smoothly.
The author has talked about so many theories in this book.
But if I narrow them down, he mainly talks about Deliberate and Emergent strategies.
A deliberate strategy includes all those plans that you are fixated on.
For example, suppose you’re building a career in journalism. In that case, you must have a strategy in place about how will achieve the milestones.
Or suppose you’re planning to wander in the realm of entrepreneurship.
In that case, you must have a strategy about how you will perform ideation and execute those ideas.
But the reality is that things in the outer world don’t happen according to your plan.
For instance, if you are going from Point A to Point B in your life, there will be so many unpredictable factors that will force you to change your strategy.
At that time, you’ll require an emergent strategy.
Well, most of the time, while building an emergent strategy, you’ll be trying to predict uncommon factors and have a different plan in your mind.
What will you do if things don’t work out your way? What if another threat emerges? What if some technology gets outdated? What if AI eats up your share of job?
An emergent strategy allows some room for change in your deliberate strategy.
Some people never build a strategy.
There is no rule that you should make these strategies, though.
Most people still do fine in their careers without any strategy at all.
But still, I believe that it’s better to have a strategy than not having it at all.
Especially when you’re doing some kind of business, it becomes vital to have a strategy.
Find Your Motivation
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
What are you passionate about?
What makes you happy?
What are those tasks that put you in the state of flow?
Many such questions can help you find what makes you happy.
The author stresses upon finding those things that make you blissful. Doing this would also save you from future regrets.
Would a person be happy if he pursues a career that he deep down doesn’t give a shit about? Obviously, not.
Imagine if Elon Musk didn’t know about his motivations. Do you think he would be as successful as he is now? I don’t think so.
Knowing your motivations helps you make proper career decisions. And you make sure that you don’t enter into a race that isn’t worth taking part in.
Use Opportunities As They Appear But Prioritize And Align Them With Your Goals
Catch opportunities when they arise. Even a kid knows that. But do you really know how to do that correctly?
Blindly following a piece of advice can be terrible at times.
For example, people hop onto an opportunity thinking that opportunity would bring them happiness and prosperity. And yes, they sometimes do.
But the question is:
Do those opportunities align with your goals?
If an opportunity doesn’t add value to your goals, it’s better to look for another.
For instance, if there is an opportunity for you to increase your income. But your goals are different, let’s say you want to be a minimalist and are satisfied with your current income.
In that case, you shouldn’t go for that opportunity.
Instead, you should seek those opportunities that could help you become more minimalist.
Choosing the right opportunities is a matter of getting your priorities straight. Once you set the right priorities, you naturally tend to select the right options for yourself.
Your Life Is Your Business
The author thinks of life as a business. And I think you should too.
Any business exists for the sole purpose of making profits by providing value to their target audience by satisfying a need of some sort.
Similarly, you have some needs in your life that you must satisfy.
For instance, you need a sustainable career to make sure you’ve money rolling in.
Also, you hate to suffer a loss of any sort in your life. Just as the owners of any business do.
But not all businesses thrive. Likewise, not all people live a life they love or do a job that gives meaning to their lives.
Just as you need to learn the fundamentals of running a business, you must understand how to live a meaningful life.
Let’s talk more about managing the resources in your business aka life.
Manage Your Resources Properly
The quality of your life depends on how you manage a few crucial resources.
Mainly, these resources are:
How you use your time decides how efficient you become. And I don’t need to tell how important managing your time is, do I?
The same is the case with managing energy. You only have a limited amount of energy during a day. You could only do so much.
And that’s why you must use your energy wisely in doing those things that matter the most.
A business can’t survive unless it makes enough money to pay for its expenditures. And most of the time, it requires some initial investment.
Similarly, some things in your life, like career, require an initial investment. It might be the investment of money or time.
Time is also money. So either way, you are paying the price.
Putting simply, if you fail to use these resources wisely, your life crashes down like a business in the loss.
Relationships Are As Meaningful As Your Career
Again, most people never use their resources to build a healthy sustainable relationship. They focus too much on their profession, thinking that they’ll somehow manage their relationship.
But they hardly do.
Your life doesn’t end when you just walk out of your office. You need to put conscious effort into building your relationships.
Building relationships is another tricky game with lots of dos and don’ts.
In this book, the author suggests that you give enough time to nurture your relationships.
Why it’s important? Simple, you just have to live with the people you’re related to. You can’t just fire them, can you?
On the flip side, if you hate how your boss behaves with you, you can always hop on to another job and make peace with yourself.
But you can’t just marry another woman if you don’t like your wife’s behavior. Relationships are long-term thingy, which is more of a reason why you should nurture them.
To build a successful career, you must work on improving those relationships.
In fact, those who successfully balance their relationships and career tend to be happier and fulfilled in their lives.
There are so many things to talk about when it comes to relationships and careers. But let’s stick to the context of this book for now.
Avoid The Marginal-Thinking Paradox
Most businesses fall into this trap.
The author gives the example of Netflix and Blockbuster in this book:
Earlier, when Netflix was just a startup, Blockbuster ruled the market of video-content. The people who ran the Blockbuster had two choices then:
First, keep doing what they were doing.
Second, put additional money upfront and try to crush Netflix as it had just a small share of a vast market.
The catch was, Netflix was targeting a unique market segment.
And the CEO and co-founders of Blockbuster saw Netflix as a small potato back then.
Why do you think Blockbuster kept selling DVDs even though Netflix was slowly disrupting the market by signing deals with brands like Sony and Disney?
That’s because the Blockbuster fell into the trap of marginal thinking.
Let me explain marginal-thinking further in simple words.
Suppose you have an online website with thousands of visitors. Now, the situation demands that you invest in a reliable cloud hosting so that it becomes capable of handling more visitors. What would you do in that case?
You could do one of the two things:
You could invest more and become ready for the future, or you could just keep doing things the old way and pay the full cost in the future.
Also, sunk cost fallacy works behind the scenes. When you invest a significant amount of resources on something, you prefer to stick to that. You kind of develop a bond with that thing. And why shouldn’t you? You made an investment after all, right? Wrong.
The thing is:
Sometimes, you need to invest upfront regardless of the sunk cost. Blockbuster didn’t invest in the online streaming services, thinking it as a marginal cost. Eventually, they ended up paying the full price or lost everything they had.
If only Blockbuster had found a way to stay out of this trap, they would have easily ruled over the video content for years. But what’s done is done.
What can you learn from all this?
Don’t get stuck to your old ways of doing something. If you realize that you need to invest in something new like learning a new skill or buying another laptop for your work. Just do it.
Many people fail in their careers simply because they didn’t build that new skill to take their career to the next level. They stay stuck, avoiding that additional cost involved in learning that skill.
Consider the consequences of marginal thinking.
Remember that marginal thinking happens when you have sunk costs. For example, a new startup doesn’t need to care about their old products; they just build a new one according to the market need or demand.
The marginal thinking trap is one of the worst pitfalls. Because when you realize it, chances are you’ve already lost.
Additional reading: Netflix vs. Blockbuster case study
The Key Takeaways From ‘How Will You Measure Your Life’
Extra lessons you can learn on Blinkist book summary app:
How Will You Measure Your Life Quotes
Here are a few quotes that I liked in this book:
“There are no quick fixes for the fundamental problems of life.”
“It’s impossible to have a meaninfgul conversation about happiness without understanding what makes each of us tick.”
How Will You Measure Your Life Review
This book took me a significant time to finish.
I’d say that if you are reading for the first time, don’t read this book. Why am I saying this? Because this book isn’t for beginners.
The first part made me struggle a bit. I had to read the first half of this book 2-3 times to wrap my head around what the author was trying to say. Plus, the topic wasn’t getting clear.
In some areas, the author dives into stories leaving the reader in confusion.
To be honest, sometimes the quotes made more sense than the actual content of the book.
Once you drag through the first part, things become simple. The second half isn’t that hard when compared to the first one.
This book has mainly 3 sections:
The first part discusses why theories are powerful. Then later, the author talks about Motivation and Hygiene factors.
After that, the author talks about why relationships are as important as our careers.
And in the last or the third part, the author talks about the marginal-thinking trap. I enjoyed the section where the author talked about how Blockbuster destroyed its own business by falling into the marginal-thinking trap. I could feel the screams of Blockbuster guys.
I wished if Blockbuster were as successful as Netflix is today.
I would give this book a rating of 6.9/10.
It’s Your Turn Now
If you enjoyed reading How will you measure your life summary, then share this with those who could benefit from it.
Have your ever fallen into the marginal-thinking trap?
Do you struggle to keep balance between your job and relationship?
Or do you have any further advice to give?
Let me know in the comments below. I’ll read your thoughts.