A Proven Path to Discovering Your Calling?
In two months, I will be graduating from college. I am excited, but I am also a little nervous. You see, I know what I want to do with my life, but, at the same time, I have no clue what I'm actually going to do. Does that make sense? I have lots of different creative interests and skills (writing, photography, design, etc), but I'm not sure what direction to head when I graduate.
A few months ago, Jeff Goins tweeted about needing some people to read his new book, The Art of Work, before it comes out in March. I follow Jeff's blog and have read a few of his previous books, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of his new book's launch. The Art of Work claimed to be "a proven path to discovering what you were meant to do", so I thought it could help me as I look towards my graduation in May.
The book arrived in December, and I immediately started to read it, marking up its pages with notes and underlining quotes. It's been a few weeks since I finished it, and I've had time to digest the wisdom that Jeff shares. As I reflect back on his book, I have to ask myself: did Jeff's book really offer "a proven path" to finding one's calling?
I Approached My Calling in the Wrong Way
Figuring out what you're meant to do with your life isn't an easy task. With that in mind, I approached Jeff's new book with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially because he claimed to have a "proven" path to discovering what you were meant to do. I was thinking: "Proven path, huh? Let's see if it works for me..."
As it turns out, I was approaching the idea of a "calling" all wrong; I thought that a calling was an epiphany moment where I knew exactly what I should do with my life. I came into The Art of Work with this false mindset. Because of this, the book's message had an even greater impact on me. As Jeff explains in chapter 1, "we all want to 'just know' what we're supposed to do with our lives... for our purpose to be spelled out for us, but that's not how a calling works."
Jeff had my attention. For the longest time, I expected my "calling" to be extremely clear and obvious. Now he's telling me that it isn't?
Clarity Comes with Action
The central lesson to this book is that you have to act, even if you're not sure what to do. I like how Jeff explains this concept: "Clarity comes with action." Usually, we think that we'll find our calling and then begin to act upon it, but this isn't how it works at all. Rather, in order to find our calling, we have to start acting.
"Those 'lucky' few who find their callings testify to this. They knew there was a purpose out there, and they were determined to find it. The way that they did this was by taking the first step, by overcoming the myth that 'you just know' and deciding to act anyway."
As humans, we hate uncertainty; we hate it so much that it can cripple us at times. We buy into the lie that one day we'll have a sense of peace, and then (and only then) we will be able step out without fear. In reality, that's the quickest way to lose sight of doing the work you love.
The Art of Work unravels the powerful truth of "clarity comes with action" and explains how to apply it to your life. Jeff breaks the process down into seven steps: 1) listening to your life, 2) accidental apprenticeships, 3) painful practice, 4) building bridges, 5) pivot points, 6) the portfolio life, and 7) your magnum opus.
One of the main reasons why I loved The Art of Work was because Jeff moved beyond the theoretical and lived in real-world examples. He didn't simply explain how to find your calling, he showed people who had already done it.
So, Did the Book Offer a Proven Path?
The Art of Work will challenge how you approach your calling, and it will free you from the mentality that you have to wait for certainty before you can get started. Jeff gives you the "okay" to start doing, and then he guides you through the process all along the way.
In that sense, I would say that this book did indeed put forth a "proven path" to discovering your calling. With that being said, it's a very nuanced plan. Notice that Jeff doesn't call it "the" proven plan, rather "a" proven plan. He stresses throughout the entire book that the actual results are going to look different for different people.
I recommend this book to two groups of people: 1) young people, like me, who are uncertain about what they should do with their lives, and 2) older people who feel stuck and want a more meaningful life. I truly believe this book can inspire and guide people to a life of meaningful work. It's not a book of hard and fast rules, but it does contain a lot of wisdom and guidance. It has lots of inspiration too, and we all need a little more inspiration in our lives.
One word of caution: The Art of Work will only benefit you if you are willing to read it and act upon it. Just reading this book will not tell you what you should do with your life. Remember, this book offers a path to discovering what you were meant to do. A path is useless unless you step outside of your comfort zone and begin the journey down that path.
Will you take the first step?
Like the sound of The Art of Work? The book launches in March, but you can pre-order it today! Check it out here.
[zilla_alert style="grey"] Note: I received Jeff's book The Art of Work for free in exchange for an honest review. [/zilla_alert]