Finding Square Holes

Discover who you really are and find the perfect career

By: Anita Houghton


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 256
ISBN : 9781904424840
Format: Paperback
Published: May 2005

Finding Square Holes is unique in taking a predominantly self-reflective approach to career development, combining techniques from personal development theory, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and the Myers-Briggs model of personality.

This book works on the premise that only you are the best judge of what is good for you. It is a real confidence booster and fear killer. Get it!!

  • Highly practical and easy to read
  • Unique combination of NLP, the Myers-Briggs model and other practical tools for turning ideas into reality

Picture for author Anita Houghton

Anita Houghton

A senior public health doctor by background, Anita has been a careers and executive coach for more than ten years. She is a master practitioner of NLP, an experienced practitioner in psychological type, has a post graduate diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and writes regularly on coaching-related topics in journals and magazines. Every fortnight she sends out a free coaching tip on a range of topics, both work-related and personal, and these can be viewed and signed up for.

Anita regularly writes articles on career and personal development and often speaks at conferences and training seminars.

Click here to visit Anita Houghton's Reflections and Tips Archives.


  1. With the possible exception of concert pianists, stand-up comedians and Premier League footballers, work, for most of us, is a tedious, barely tolerable slog. Resigned to the daily grind of everyday life, we just about survive the working week by looking forward to the weekend; only to do it all over again when Monday rolls by.

    But think again, argues Anita Houghton in her incisive and remarkably enjoyable self-help guide - Finding Square Holes: Discover Who You Really Are and Find the Perfect Career . Work, she says, -˜is to be enjoyed not endured'. And in just over 230 pages, Houghton lays a convincing case.

    Unlike other self-help gurus, her frame of reference is personal rather than theoretical. The motivation to write this book, she confesses in her introduction, was to share her own difficulties in the workplace and to discuss her solutions to the -˜odd problems' that she endured in seeking the perfect career.

    Drawing extensively from her medical background, Houghton provides a compassionate, almost diagnostic approach to careers advice. Through a series of case-studies, exercises and far-reaching philosophical arguments, her simple yet effective approach is based on first principles: Know yourself review your career make adjustments. In other words, -˜discover what shape you are, and then create a career around that shape' (hence the title Finding Square Holes).

    But hang on a minute! How does one actually go about discovering one's self? With her sincere and pragmatic approach, Houghton is not one for meaningless sound bites and clichéd  rhetoric. She gets to the heart of the matter with an easy-to-read narrative style that seems to walk the line between self-help guide and informal GP consultation.

    Chapter titles are posed as personal questions - what sort of person are you? What's important to you? What's important about you? Then, within each chapter, there are a number of exercises (yes, you will need pencil and paper to carry out the exercises) that aim to steer you, the reader, into a realisation of your own values, preferences and philosophies.

    Finding Square Holes of course reflects our approach to careers advice here at Position Ignition where particular emphasis is placed on finding patterns in previous roles and interests and using this knowledge to find the right career options for you.

    Like our experts at Position Ignition, Houghton takes care to guide you through exploring these options and getting past what she calls -˜limiting beliefs', the inner voice that says -˜No you can't'.

    And whilst Finding Square Holes suffers to some extent from repetition, Anita Houghton has pulled off a rare feat that few self-help gurus are able to achieve. She has written a book that asks many questions, gives few answers, and yet is full of wisdom.
  2. The Alternative Career Planner

    IN A NUTSHELL - there are three sections: getting started, groundwork and getting practical; plus exercises that make you look at what you did and didn`t like about you rob roles. Activities such as working out where your money goes and listing you priorities helped me find out what`s important to me. There are explanations of how to get into different careers, too.

    I LOVED IT BECAUSE - it helped me to see the bigger picture. The author warns that you might even find out you`re already doing the right job. What`s great is that it gets you looking at things from a different angle, and makes the point that you don`t have to wake up on a Monday morning and skip into work with joy in your heart, your career`s just one part of your life, not the be all and end all. By the end, I was thinking that maybe construction isn`t really such a bad career after all.

    I STRUGGLED WITH - Completing all the self-assessments - but only because they made me feel slightly uncomfortable as I had to admit my own weaknesses!

    BEST FOR - Anyone who`s reached a milestone, looked back and thought `maybe I didn`t mean to do that`. It`s like having a life coach and career adviser on a budget.

    READER RATED: Four Star

  3. This book is different. Anita focuses not on the -˜job' itself or the -˜perfect' career but on the person -˜doing' that job - you! By doing that, by focusing on your purpose, assets and strengths, her excellent and positive advice helps you to see your potential new career in a different light. It's a must-read for anyone not convinced they're in the right job or advising others on finding their perfect fit in this world - brilliant!
  4. Combining techniques from personal development theory, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Myers-Briggs theory of personality, this book's approach to career development is based on self-awareness. Using selfknowledge to guide the reader in a practical and self-motivating process of research, networking and goalsetting, it may encourage a lot of people who are -˜stuck! to think again.
  5. When you know who you are, and how to excel, and what inspires, fascinates and drives you, you can review and plan your career with confidence. The book is divided into three parts:

    1. Getting started

    2. The groundwork

    3. Getting practical

    Getting started provides a detailed overview of the factors that influence our career development. It addresses the need to be aware that career problems will occur for most of us some time. Problems might relate to life stages, a job that feels right in our twenties may pall fifteen or more years later. Alternatively, external factors such a new and unsympathetic boss or organisational reorganisation may trigger the need for a new job. The main message contained in this section is that a career crisis faced openly can become an opportunity.

    The reader then has an opportunity to reflect on past achievements. This can have many benefits in raising the morale of anyone feeling negative as the result of work trauma and also in providing material which will help in deciding what to do next. This is balanced by a section that looks at “what went less well”. The intention here is to ensure that disappointments are “dealt with and despatched” and the chapter provides good advice to this end.

    The groundwork examines the importance of money in career choice and our attitudes towards money, what it means to us, why we need it and how much we judge to be enough. The chapter then moves on to examine the link between our need for money and our career choice. Other aspects of work are addressed including the need for balance between freedom and obligation, the provision of structure, identity and self-esteem and fun.

    The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is introduced in this section in a chapter headed What sort of person are you? As ever it is a challenge to fit this vast subject into a wider framework and cover all aspects of Myers Briggs into one chapter. I tried to put myself into the shoes of someone unfamiliar with type theory when reading this. The design and explanation of this chapter reflects Anita's familiarity with her task and her easy conversational style makes the subject less threatening. I would have liked more tables and less text and a constant reminder of what the words and letters mean. I might have been confused by inclusion of such phrases as “an extraverted feeling type' without more explanation. From my professional perspective I felt it did cover all the bases very well. The illustrative examples are particularly good.

    Reading the section entitles “How to check the suitability of a job' is particularly useful in that it provides a means to use the knowledge of type theory to examine the components of a job and check on the fit. I have always been a little concerned about using Myers Briggs to choose a career since, as an ENTP, I might have undertaken nurse training (only 6% of nurses had NT preferences in my day!) Looked at this way I could have seen those aspects of nursing that I might easy and those that might be a stretch.

    This section goes on to examine the importance of values and provides a comprehensive framework for readers to examine this topic in depth. It also addresses the questions What's important about you? and What are your assets? Working on these chapters provides both personal insights and important information for job applications. The last chapter What lies between you and your ideal career? Is more philosophical and reflects on the ways in which our beliefs about ourselves can put limit on our ambitions.

    Getting practical starts by recapping the topics covered and provides information about career options. As with the earlier parts of the book this part combines practical data with helpful references to the individual personal experience of seeking a new career. The practical includes the importance of networking, time management and goal setting while the personal refers back to the importance of beliefs. Finally, Anita lists ten useful beliefs which summarise her approach to career planning.

    As may be evident, I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a change in career focus. More than that I feel it has value as a guide to examining one's point in life overall.
  6. Anita has managed to put together a practical and logical guide to help in career choice and career change - a great help to anyone planning such a move.
  7. Finding Square Holes considers the real consequences of making different career decisions, and will interest people at various stages of development of their working life. There is an excellent mixture of thought provoking, practical and engaging NLP tools and techniques, combined with the more reflective and equally useful Myers-Briggs framework on personal styles. Anita keeps momentum going from basic enquiry and preparation all the way through to networking and making contacts. This book is easy to follow, and if you persist through all its stages you will complete a real process of enquiry and come out with a clear plan of action to create work you love.
  8. This guide is honest in its treatment of people's real concerns and difficulties, it is well-written and is easy to understand. Unlike many other career advice books, it reminds anxious career changers that while work is important to us, it is only one aspect of life and has to take its place amongst other key concerns (eg time for relationships, time for oneself, etc). I particularly liked the analysis of “useful” and “not useful beliefs - readers will feel encouraged to adopt the types of behaviour leading to successful career change while being protected against the kind of “airy-fairy” positivism that eventually demoralises.
  9. I have to admit to some initial scepticism at the prospect of yet another career development book. As a self help addict, my shelves are already bulging with manuals involving everything from parachutes and springboards to adventures, dreams and giants. Surely these others have said all there is to say about boosting our self confidence and taking control of our lives? But how wrong you can be ...

    This book's 238 pages follow a three part structure. Part 1 describes some of the common career problems that people experience and a range of techniques for achieving the right mental state to start making changes. Part 2 takes you through a process of discovering who you are, what you have to offer and what barriers may be preventing you from making progress. Finally, Part 3 helps you to create an action plan for developing your career.

    Throughout the book Houghton shares her personal coaching process, so that you can work through it on your own, or with your personal coach, or with a group of friends. The style is personal, engaging, informative and inspiring.

    The underlying principle of the book is that, before you can identify the right career, you first have to get to know and understand yourself. This is why the bulk of the book deals with the “broad based groundwork': our reasons for working, our personality type, the things that are important to us and what we have to offer.

    If I have a criticism, it is that the book doesn't really go beyond the foundation. Once you have identified your ideal career, you are more or less left to your own devices. The short chapter on action planning covers only goal setting and time management, with little on implementing the plan or overcoming further obstacles. Perhaps we should be reminded that actually achieving the dream involves constantly reviewing the plan in the light of experience, never giving up, taking a positive view of failure and thinking ever more creatively about ways of reaching the identified goal.

    Anita Houghton mentions her own career difficulties and the significant career change she made from doctor to careers counsellor and coach. Maybe it's this experience, as well as her work with clients, that gives the book its special appeal. Yes, we have heard a lot of it before ” but Houghton's innovative and refreshing cocktail of elements makes this a valuable addition to anyone's library of self help manuals.

    • Innovation 3 stars

    • Content 4 stars

    • Clarity 5 stars

    • Overall recommendation 4 stars

    • Value for money 5 stars

  10. Sub-titles Discover who you really are and find the perfect career, this book works on the premise that you and only you are the best judge of what is good for you. The author, a trained doctor, careers councillor and personal development coach, seems to have provided a dream book - one that will help you really get what you want out of life.

    Split into three parts, Getting Started, the Groundwork and Getting Practical, each chapter within these sections starts with a bullet point guide of what you will gain, It's written in an easy reading style and pops in quotes for the reader to think about and some chapters have exercises to complete.
  11. A treasure trunk of no-nonsense work-life balance tips and career advice. It works like tossing a jigsaw box in the air - to have the pieces all float back down into picture-perfect formation. If you've ever wondered what on earth you're doing in the job you're in, this dip-in-and-out-of book is your new motivating, thought-provoking best friend. Prepare to be shaken up and re-focussed. Beware - this book changes lives!
  12. Anita Houghton is a careers counsellor and personal development coach. Her self-help book, Finding Square Holes, offers a comprehensive guide for anyone seeking a change in their career. Anita Houghton bases a major part of her thinking on the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). Before you enter the job market, you first need to know yourself, what you have to offer, so that you can take control of the process.

    She sets the frame: "One day you wake up and realise you'd rather be doing just about anything than going in to your current job." How do you go about changing your career? The answer is in the subtitle: Discover who you really are and find the perfect career. But only do this, she advises, when you are in the right frame of mind for exploring your passions " you don't get far if you are suffering from redundancy or in crisis. In other words, changing your career needs to be positive "towards' rather than an "away from'; "anything but this!" is not what it about. Clarify what you have to offer, understand what makes you happy, and you can take control of your own life and plan the career you want.

    This entertaining and insightful book covers all aspects of making this important change. You are asked to consider your attitude to money, values, personal assets, limiting beliefs, self-motivation, networking and goal setting. Finding Square Holes offers guidance not only for the career-changer, but also for coaches or careers counsellors working with people who want or need to change jobs.
  13. Favorite Quote:
    Work is to be enjoyed, not endured.

    While a good book can never be quite as interactive as a good friend, this one is the next best thing - a practical, thought-provoking, advice filled guide to creating a career that fits you both as you are and as you'd like to be.

    The sections on money, values, and useful beliefs are worth the price of admission on their own, as each one provides a framework for carving your own path and enjoying the outer success which flows naturally from inner happiness.

    This book is written with warmth and wisdom for anyone who wants to both do what they love and love what they do, and I highly recommend it.
    **** of a possible 5
  14. Practical and inspiring: a clearly written manual which is essential reading for careers advisers and coaches. I plan to give this book to special members of the family and friends as it covers more than career development.
  15. Many people feel like they have to scrunch, contort, cajole, or deny themselves to fit into their jobs. In Finding Square Holes, Anna Houghton shows you how to find your own place in the world of work. In this easy-to-read and well-organized book, will find the tools and advice you need to chart your own path to career success.

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