Friday, February 1, 2013

"Don't Quit Your Day Job... Yet." Quitter by Jon Acuff


I finally finished my first book of 2013, Quitter by Jon Acuff. I actually purchased this book about a year ago, read ten pages, we decided to adopt again (losing all interest in the subject matter) and I set it aside. I finally picked it up again and I'm glad I did.

The concept of the book is simple.  It's a sort of guidebook to following your career dreams in a practical way. The subtitle states "closing the gap between your day job and your dream job." However, I actually think that the marketing sells the book a bit short. Although the purpose of the book is correctly stated, the value of it goes further.  Although I am beginning to work on my next career steps, I think I would have gotten value out of this book even if I had planned to stay at my existing job indefinitely. 

The book starts with a chapter entitled "Don't Quit Your Day Job." I love that the book started out this way. Acuff explains how quitting your day job too quickly can be extremely damaging to your dream, because you are trading one boss (at your job) for another (bills without a plan to pay them!).  This falls right in line with the advice of Acuff's current employer, Dave Ramsey. In following chapters he goes on to explain how to use your current job to further your dreams, encouraging you to find similarities between the two, even if they aren't obvious. He gives advice as to "Falling in Like with a Job You Don't Love" in Chapter 4:

"Bad employees make horrible dreamers. You can't loaf on your day job all week and then expect to magically throw the switch on the weekend and hustle on your dream. The things you do on  your day job tend to follow you home."

One of my favorite bits of advice was to "Remember why you work." When days are tough and you think you can't tolerate another day at x, y, z job, think on the reasons you work - even the minor ones. Being able to pay your dentist for that emergency filling. Feeding your family. To wear shoes. To donate to charity.  Everyone's list is different, but everyone can make a list. I know that it's easy for me to forget about those basic and essential points when I'm frustrated about something.  This task also may help keep you in the present, appreciating the here and now and not constantly looking ahead to when things will be "better."

There were some portions of the book I thought were helpful in other areas outside of career. For example, Acuff recommends that you define your "enough" in order to understand when you are successful. "The first taste of success, of winning, awakens the giant of enough. And if it's not already defined, it will grow out of control.... [D]efine what your enough will look like." This can be true with something like a health and fitness goal as well. If your goal is to just "run faster" than you can chase that goal your entire life. There is nothing wrong with continuing to improve your speed. However, but failing to define "success" at various points along the way, you don't get to enjoy your success  It's never enough! Maybe you start with a 4:30 marathon and your second is a 4:05, a huge PR. But if you have allowed your definition of "fast" to morph and change and never be defined, you might be disappointed with that time. Defining "enough" does not mean you are limiting your goal setting.  But it allows you to recognize success, enjoy it and reevaluate, rather than end up on a constantly searching battle for more. 

I enjoyed this book. It was a fairly quick and easy read and contained some good advice. Well worth the $10 price, although I suspect many libraries also carry it. Jon Acuff has an interesting blog as well.  He doesn't know me and I certainly didn't get anything to give this review.  I just enjoyed the book. :) 

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