What do you want out of life? To make a lot of money—or work for justice? To run marathons—or sing in a choir? To have children—or travel the world? The things we care about in life—family, friendship, leisure activities, work, our moral ideals—often conflict, preventing us from doing what matters most to us. Even worse, we don’t always know what we really want, or how to define success. Blending personal stories, philosophy, and psychology, this insightful and entertaining book offers invaluable advice about living well by understanding your values and resolving the conflicts that frustrate their fulfillment.
Valerie Tiberius introduces you to a way of thinking about your goals that enables you to reflect on them effectively throughout your life. She illustrates her approach with vivid examples, many of which are drawn from her own life, ranging from the silly to the serious, from shopping to navigating prejudice. Throughout, the book emphasizes the importance of interconnectedness, reminding us of the profound influence other people have on our lives, our goals, and how we should pursue them. At the same time, the book offers strategies for coping with obstacles to realizing your goals, including gender bias and other kinds of discrimination.
Whether you are changing jobs, rethinking your priorities, or reconsidering your whole life path, What Do You Want Out of Life? is an essential guide to helping you understand what really matters to you and how you can thoughtfully pursue it.
Valerie Tiberius is the Paul W. Frenzel Chair in Liberal Arts and professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota. Her books include Well-Being as Value Fulfillment: How We Can Help Each Other to Live Well and The Reflective Life: Living Wisely with Our Limits. She lives in Minneapolis.
"Entertaining and smart, this is philosophy for people who don’t usually like philosophy."—Publishers Weekly
“A rich and wonderfully written guide to finding out what really matters and a deep exploration of how we can use our values as an effective North Star for living a better life.”—Laurie Santos, host of The Happiness Lab podcast
“We live in a time when we are free to do almost anything, and yet it is hard to figure out what matters most. What could be better than the guidance of a wise moral philosopher, written in language that we can all understand? What Do You Want Out of Life? does the job beautifully. Tiberius doesn’t tell us how to live and what to do, but she empowers us to figure this out for ourselves, by asking the right questions. Who could ask for more?”—Barry Schwartz, bestselling author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
“What Do You Want Out of Life? is an illuminating, personal, and accessible guidebook for anyone who wants more out of life. Offering a toolkit to help us figure out our values and goals, how to improve them, and how to deal with their conflicts, Valerie Tiberius reminds us that getting more out of life is not just about us and our desires but also requires other people, morality, and patience. A must-read.”—Myisha Cherry, author of The Case for Rage: Why Anger Is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle
“A good life involves satisfying our goals—but how do we figure out what our goals should be, and what do we do when they are in conflict? In this wonderfully sharp and engaging book, Valerie Tiberius blends philosophy with personal stories to provide practical answers to these foundational questions. The result is a delight to read—and it just might change your life.”—Paul Bloom, author of The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning
“In What Do You Want Out of Life?, Valerie Tiberius accomplishes a rare feat. She gives down-to-earth advice on how to keep one’s eye on what matters most. Practical philosophy at its best.”—Owen Flanagan, author of How to Do Things with Emotions: The Morality of Anger and Shame across Cultures
“A balanced life requires moving beyond self-help gimmicks and thinking about what’s really important: getting our priorities straight. Valerie Tiberius is in the vanguard of scholars showing how philosophy can be accessible and practical, and this wonderfully rich, wise little book brings philosophical insight down to earth on one of the most vital questions: how to live.”—Dan Haybron, author of Happiness: A Very Short Introduction
“This is a delightful book full of wisdom, sense, and humorous insights into the reality of our lives and the choices that we make, for better or for worse. Tiberius has written an enjoyable and practical guide for living in accordance with our values.”—Karen Stohr, author of Choosing Freedom: A Kantian Guide to Life
“Life has never been more complicated and confusing, but self-help books are often too simplistic while philosophy is too dense and abstract. In this engaging, accessible, and enjoyable book, Valerie Tiberius focuses on how we all negotiate among our goals and values as we go through our lives. This is a book which shows how ethical philosophy is philosophy to live by and can help us to live better.”—Julia Annas, author of The Morality of Happiness